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Exclusively for you, our Archivists have assembled a wealth of stories, photos, and artifacts that provide a true insider’s view of the Harley-Davidson legacy. Enjoy your visit, and thanks for being a valued Member of the Harley-Davidson Museum.

Club Sweater On Loan

From the Curator

Leo Hopkins began riding motorcycles in the 1940s, and in 1948 he bought a 1944 Harley-Davidson 74 with a flathead engine. He rode at the time with a club called the California Trailblazers, which later became the Berkeley Tigers. He held onto his club sweater for the next 60 years.

Stories of the African American riding experience have not been recorded in the same way that stories of other riders, or of Harley-Davidson’s own history, have been documented. The San Francisco Bay area in the 1940s and 1950s was a hotbed of African American clubs who sported uniforms and personalized bikes with a unique regional style. People like Leo are instrumental in helping us gather some of these stories and include it alongside what we already have in the Museum. He agreed, saying he was happy to help us put this together.

When it arrived here, it was in good shape for its age, but showed dirt and had moth holes. We sent it to a professional textile conservator to be cleaned, repaired, and made suitable for exhibition. Using a non-reactive water solution he cleaned the garment and patched all the holes with dyed-to-match linen patches, hand-sewn to the existing threads.

One of the special things about borrowing Leo’s sweater was that he also had photos to go along with it. One of them is him wearing it, which is a great addition. We love to see an artifact in its natural environment; it really helps to tell the story.

We installed the sweater into the club case, which is a display of 1930s-1950s uniforms in the Clubs & Competition gallery on the upper level of the Museum. It will remain there for the duration of his loan.


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May-September - Daily: 9am-6pm
(Thursday, 9am-8pm)
October-April - Daily: 10am-6pm
(Thursday, 10am-8pm)

Harley-Davidson Museum
400 W Canal Street
Milwaukee, WI 53201
1-877-HD-MUSEUM or 414-287-2789

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