Today’s moon landing artifact is a hand-knitted sweater (H 63071). This bright blue sweater is ribbed at the waist, neck, and cuffs. The body of the sweater is purled with an image of a white rocket and yellow moon and stars on the chest. The words “Apollo 11” and “USA” have been sewn onto the rocket in grey yarn.
Guinness World Record Holder Gwen Matthewman of Featherstone, Yorkshire, England, knitted this sweater in July 1969, for Neil Armstrong. Her own original design, Matthewman produced this rocket sweater from 40 ounces of wool in six hours. Read more about her and the creation of this sweater in the August 13, 1969, edition of The Australian Women’s Weekly here.
Matthewman sent the sweater to NASA at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, TX (now the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center). Dr. Robert Gilruth, Director of the Manned Spacecraft Center, forwarded the sweater on to Janet Armstrong to give to her husband, Neil. NASA officials thanked Matthewman for her gift and promised that Armstrong would wear the rocket sweater for pictures.
Strangely enough, this is not the only sweater in the Ohio History Connection created to commemorate the moon landing. H 63214 is a white child’s sweater knitted with Armstrong’s famous words, “One small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” The creation of these sweaters indicates the cultural extent the moon landing had on the public internationally.
Check back next week for the fifth moon landing artifact as we get closer to the 45th Anniversary of the First Moon Landing, happening on July 20th.
Caitlin Smith, History Collections Intern