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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

Wage Book

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 45, Folder 1
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1920 - 1924
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-ref331

Wage Book

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 45, Folder 2
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1925 - 1928
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-ref332

Wage Book

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 45, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1929 - 1930
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-ref333

Wage Book

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 45, Folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1930 - 1933
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-ref334

Wage Book

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 45, Folder 5
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1933 - 1935
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-ref335

Wage Rate Data

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 16, Folder 21
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1945 - 1945
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-ref147

Wage Rate Data

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 16, Folder 22
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1948 - 1955
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-ref148

Wage Rate Data

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 16, Folder 23
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1976 - 1979
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-ref149

Wage Rate Data

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 16, Folder 24
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-ref150

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  • American Pearl Button Company.
  • Automatic Button Company.
  • Barry Manufacturing Company.
  • Claus Schmarje Button Company.
  • Hahn, Bernard
  • Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.
  • Iowa Button Company.
  • J & K Button Company
  • McKee Button Company.
  • Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.
  • American Pearl Button Company.
  • Automatic Button Company.
  • Barry Manufacturing Company.
  • Claus Schmarje Button Company.
  • Hahn, Bernard
  • Hawkeye Pearl Button Company.
  • Iowa Button Company.
  • J & K Button Company
  • McKee Button Company.
  • Perkins Freshwater Pearl Products, Inc.
  • Archives Center, National Museum of American History