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Iowa Button Industry Collection

Creator:
Automatic Button Company.  Search this
American Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Claus Schmarje Button Company.  Search this
Barry Manufacturing Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Claus  Search this
Sessler, Mary Alice  Search this
U.S. Button Company.  Search this
Weber and Sons Button Company.  Search this
Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.  Search this
McKee Button Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Clarence  Search this
Ronda Button Company.  Search this
Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Hahn, Bernard  Search this
J & K Button Company  Search this
Iowa Button Company.  Search this
Extent:
13 Cubic feet (55 boxes, 4 map folders)
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Trade literature
Videotapes
Commercial catalogs
Correspondence
Clippings
Photographs
Price lists
Account books
Audiotapes
Place:
Muscatine (Iowa)
Iowa -- Button industry
Date:
1898 - 1993
Summary:
Collection documents the manufacture of both freshwater pearl and plastic buttons in Muscatine, Iowa, including at least 12 different companies from primarily 1925 to the 1960s.
Scope and Contents:
Collection documents the manufacture of both freshwater pearl and plastic buttons in Muscatine, Iowa, including at least 12 different companies. The records, primarily 1925-1960s, with a few items from 1993 production, include corporate financial records, wage and employment statistics, sales and purchase data, photographs, correspondence, catalogs, and publications. Some records document the Barry Manufacturing Company, a machine tool company which specialized in designing and producing the unique machinery needed for this industry; also background material that places the corporate records into the historical context of the button industry in Muscatine.
Arrangement:
The collection is arranged into 14 series.

Series 1: Historical and Background Materials, 1898-1990

Series 2: American Pearl Button Company, undated

Series 3: Automatic Button Company, 1937, 1965

Series 4: Barry Manufacturing Company/The Barry Company, 1890-1980

Series 5: Hawkeye Pearl Button Company, 1914-1968

Series 6: Iowa Pearl Button Company, 1955

Series 7: J & K Button Company, 1993

Series 8: McKee Button Company, 1988

Series 9: Muscatine Pearl Works, 1944-1947

Series 10: Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, 1944-1966

Series 11: =Rhonda Button Company, 1946-1968

Series 12: Claus Schmarje Button Works, 1914-1941

Series 13: US Button Company, 1915

Series 14: Weber and Sons Button Company, 1900-1976
Biographical / Historical:
Muscatine, Iowa was the primary American manufacturing source for mother-of-pearl buttons made from Mississippi River shellfish, 1890s-1960s. During the industry's peak, there were some 53 small firms making pearl buttons in the area. In the 1930s some of these firms began experimenting with plastics as a substitute for the dwindling supply of shellfish. Several firms successfully converted to plastics and the city remains a center for plastic button manufacture today.

This unique industry drew upon natural resources to provide employment for almost an entire city (Muscatine is still known as the "Pearl City"). The mass production of low-cost buttons was crucial to the success of ready-made clothing and the development of the modern clothing trade. The industry was also involved in early work by American manufacturers to develop synthetic materials to replace increasingly scarce natural resources.
Provenance:
The collection was donated by Mary Alice Sessler, Weber and Sons Button Company, Bernard Hahn.,J & K Button Company (November 19, 1993); and Clarence Schmarje (November 19, 1993).
Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Topic:
Wages -- Button industry  Search this
Buttons  Search this
Mollusks  Search this
Mother-of-pearl  Search this
Crustacea  Search this
Pearl button industry -- Iowa  Search this
Plastics  Search this
Button industry workers  Search this
Button industry -- Iowa  Search this
Genre/Form:
Trade literature -- 1920-2000
Videotapes
Commercial catalogs -- 1920-2000
Correspondence -- 20th century
Clippings -- 20th century
Photographs -- 20th century
Price lists
Account books -- 20th century
Audiotapes
Citation:
Iowa Button Industry Collection, ca. 1920s-1993, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Identifier:
NMAH.AC.0504
See more items in:
Iowa Button Industry Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-nmah-ac-0504

Muscatine Arts Center (guide to the Muscatine pearl button industry)

Collection Creator:
Automatic Button Company.  Search this
American Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Claus Schmarje Button Company.  Search this
Barry Manufacturing Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Claus  Search this
Sessler, Mary Alice  Search this
U.S. Button Company.  Search this
Weber and Sons Button Company.  Search this
Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.  Search this
McKee Button Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Clarence  Search this
Ronda Button Company.  Search this
Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Hahn, Bernard  Search this
J & K Button Company  Search this
Iowa Button Company.  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 6
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
undated
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Iowa Button Industry Collection, ca. 1920s-1993, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Iowa Button Industry Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0504-ref235

Newspaper clippings, articles and typescript reminiscences of the pearl button industry

Collection Creator:
Automatic Button Company.  Search this
American Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Claus Schmarje Button Company.  Search this
Barry Manufacturing Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Claus  Search this
Sessler, Mary Alice  Search this
U.S. Button Company.  Search this
Weber and Sons Button Company.  Search this
Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.  Search this
McKee Button Company.  Search this
Schmarje, Clarence  Search this
Ronda Button Company.  Search this
Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.  Search this
Hahn, Bernard  Search this
J & K Button Company  Search this
Iowa Button Company.  Search this
Container:
Box 2, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1898
1911 - 1975
Collection Restrictions:
Collection is open for research.
Collection Rights:
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Collection Citation:
Iowa Button Industry Collection, ca. 1920s-1993, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
See more items in:
Iowa Button Industry Collection
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0504-ref238

Paul Bartsch Papers

Creator:
Bartsch, Paul, 1871-1960  Search this
Extent:
2.6 linear meters and oversize.
Type:
Archival materials
Collection descriptions
Photographs
Date:
1901-1963
Introduction:
This finding aid was digitized with funds generously provided by the Smithsonian Institution Women’s Committee.
Descriptive Entry:
These papers include a very small amount of general correspondence regarding membership in scientific organizations and actions taken by the Washington Council of Social Agencies (1930); field notes of bird investigations in Haiti, Florida, the Florida Keys, and the West Indies (1912-1927); research notes taken on the Albatross Philippine Expedition (1907-1909); field notes and specimen collections made on the Thomas Barrera expedition to Cuba (1914); field notes, manuscript, maps, supply inventories, financial accounts, correspondence and newspaper clippings regarding the expedition to the West Indies under the Walter Rathbone Bacon Travelling Scholarship (1928-1930); notes, balloon observations, log accounts on board the Caroline, sonic soundings, photographs, blueprints, newspaper clippings and correspondence describing the first Johnson-Smithsonian deep-sea expedition to the West Indies (1933); correspondence, manuscripts and photographs documenting the Bartsch process for the preservation of wood fibers (1914-1929); biographical material regarding Bartsch and Carlos de la Torre; mollusk notes unidentified; speeches; student theses, reports and examinations; photographs of Bartsch, Carlos de la Torre, mollusca, birds, and unidentified research activities and friends on Loggerhead Key, Tortugas, Bird Key, Margarita Island, Cuba, and other islands in the Caribbean; prints for Bartsch's publication on "Pirates of the Deep--Stories of the Squid and Octopus;" newspaper clippings regarding mussels and pearls for the pearl button industry (1907-1909), and Bartsch's activities in conservation (1933).

Correspondents include Charles G. Abbot, Fred Corry Bishopp, William H. Dall, Eldridge R. Fenimore Johnson, William B. Marshall, G. E. Rice, Carlos de la Torre y de la Huerta, Washington Council of Social Agencies, Alexander Wetmore, Francis White.
Historical Note:
Born in Tuntschendorf, Silesia, Paul Bartsch (1871-1960) received an early interest in nature from his father, who was an entrepreneur and amateur naturalist, and an interest in medicine probably from his mother, who had received a degree in obstetrics at the University of Breslau. As a result of a depression in the 1880s, the elder Bartsch went into financial bankruptcy. By utilizing the last savings of Bartsch's mother, the Bartsch family was able to emigrate to the United States, finally settling down in Burlington, Iowa.

Paul Bartsch was at first determined to become an ornithologist, but after talking to Professor Samuel Calvin, geologist at the State University of Iowa, he instead enrolled for course work which included a broad spectrum of the various sciences. Before completing his degree, Bartsch left for Washington, D.C., to accept a position as an aid with William H. Dall, honorary curator of the Division of Mollusks, United States National Museum.

After entering into research on mollusks, Bartsch expanded his activities, pursuing ornithological investigations and teaching biology and zoology to university students. Interested in medicine and the biological training of medical students, Bartsch began teaching histology at the Medical School of Howard University in 1899. This position lasted for thirty-seven years when he became director of the Histological and Physiological Laboratory. In 1900, Bartsch began teaching zoology at George Washington University, becoming professor emeritus in 1945.

Bartsch's work at the United States National Museum, meanwhile, led to his appointment as assistant curator of the Division of Mollusks in 1905, and then curator of that division in 1914. He retired from his duties at the Smithsonian Institution in 1946. Bartsch's work on explorations included positions as the Smithsonian representative on board the Albatross Philippine Expedition (1907-1909) and director of the Thomas Barrera expedition to Cuba (1914); he received the Walter Rathbone Bacon Travelling Scholarship to explore the West Indies (1928-1930) and was director of the first Johnson-Smithsonian deep-sea expedition to the West Indies (1933), all of which are documented to some extent in these papers. In his expedition to the West Indies Bartsch was aided by his friend Carlos de la Torre. This resulted in their collaboration on the publications regarding the Annulariidae of Cuba, the Bahamas, and Hispanola, and the Cyclophoridae of the Americas. Their monograph, "The Terrestrial Mollusks of the Family Urocoptidae in the Island of Cuba," is still unpublished.

This collection contains almost no private correspondence (for official correspondence see Museum of Natural History, Division of Mollusks, Record Unit 73).

Besides receiving his Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa in 1905, Bartsch was awarded an honorary Doctor of Science degree from George Washington University (1937). He was president of the Wild Flower Preservation Society (1920-1924), president of the Biological Society in Washington, D.C. (1913-1915), and vice-president of the Washington Academy (1913-1915), among other numerous memberships and offices which he held in scientific societies.
Topic:
Invertebrate zoology.  Search this
Ornithology.  Search this
Zoology  Search this
Genre/Form:
Photographs
Citation:
Smithsonian Institution Archives, Record Unit 7089, Bartsch, Paul, 1871-1960, Paul Bartsch Papers
Identifier:
Record Unit 7089
See more items in:
Paul Bartsch Papers
Archival Repository:
Smithsonian Institution Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_collection:sova-sia-faru7089

Muscatine's pearl button industry / Melanie K. Alexander

Author:
Alexander, Melanie K  Search this
Physical description:
127 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Type:
Books
History
Place:
Iowa
Muscatine
Muscatine (Iowa)
Date:
2007
©2007
Topic:
Pearl button industry  Search this
History  Search this
Data Source:
Smithsonian Libraries
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:siris_sil_1046056

Connecting objects with place: 5 stories of innovation from "Object Project"

Creator:
National Museum of American History  Search this
Type:
Blog posts
Smithsonian staff publications
Blog posts
Published Date:
Mon, 08 Jun 2015 16:02:27 +0000
Topic:
American History  Search this
See more posts:
Blog Feed
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:posts_c437d7886ef07755cad93aaf069e2a1d

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