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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:
Collection descriptions
Archival materials
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.
Related Materials:
Materials at the Archives Center, National Museum of American History

Industry on Parade (NMAH.AC.0507)

Reel #215, Procesing shell into button blanks, 1954. B. Schwanda and Sons, Denton, Maryland.
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, Iowa (general information about

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 4
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1953 - 1990
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
Iowa Button Industry Collection / Series 1: Historical and Background Material
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0504-ref233

Vertical cutting machine (John Weber Jr. and Associates, Muscatine, Iowa)

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:
9 Blueprints
Container:
Map-folder 4
Type:
Archival materials
Blueprints
Date:
1950
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
Iowa Button Industry Collection / Series 14: Weber and Sons Button Company
Archival Repository:
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nmah-ac-0504-ref399

Elliptio dilatata

Collector:
B. Shimek  Search this
River Basin:
Mississippi River  Search this
Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Mississippi River, Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Collection Date:
1 Sep 1922
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Elliptio dilatata (Rafinesque, 1820)
Other Numbers:
Sort Order : SL-R26-C052-164
USNM Number:
540036
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Shimek Collection
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/35f353a45-383e-4917-a5f2-a76b4ecbd2b5
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_13809858

Fusconaia undata

Collector:
B. Shimek  Search this
River Basin:
Mississippi River  Search this
Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Mississippi River, Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Collection Date:
1 Sep 1922
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Fusconaia undata (Barnes, 1823)
USNM Number:
540039
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/378b927ac-7c38-4247-974e-3f7a0e305260
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_417690

Jannus, Rodger W.

Collection Creator:
Morehouse, Harold E., 1894-1973  Search this
Container:
Box 7, Folder 3
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies Collection, Acc. XXXX-0450, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies collection
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies collection / Series 1.1: Biographies of Flying Pioneers 1.1
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-xxxx-0450-ref184
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Beachey, Lincoln

Collection Creator:
Morehouse, Harold E., 1894-1973  Search this
Container:
Box 1, Folder 20
Type:
Archival materials
Text
Collection Restrictions:
No restrictions on access
Collection Rights:
Permissions Requests
Collection Citation:
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies Collection, Acc. XXXX-0450, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
See more items in:
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies collection
Harold E. Morehouse Flying Pioneers Biographies collection / Series 1.1: Biographies of Flying Pioneers 1.1
Archival Repository:
National Air and Space Museum Archives
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-nasm-xxxx-0450-ref33
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George Grey Barnard selected papers, 1895-1941

Creator:
Barnard, George Grey, 1863-1938  Search this
Barnard, George Grey, 1863-1938  Search this
Subject:
Rockefeller, John D., Jr. (John Davison)  Search this
Roosevelt, Theodore  Search this
Topic:
Sculpture, American  Search this
Theme:
Art Market  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Government Sponsorship of the Arts  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)9736
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)212036
AAA_collcode_barngeos
Theme:
Art Market
Lives of American Artists
Government Sponsorship of the Arts
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_212036

Contest Letters #4255-4288

Collection Creator:
W. Atlee Burpee Company  Search this
Burpee, W. Atlee (Washington Atlee), 1858-1915  Search this
Burpee, David, 1893-1980  Search this
James Vick's Sons (Rochester, N.Y.).  Search this
Wm. Henry Maule (Firm)  Search this
Extent:
1 Folder
Container:
Box 271, Folder 15
Type:
Archival materials
Date:
1924
Collection Restrictions:
Access to original images by appointment only. Researcher must submit request for appointment in writing. Certain items may be restricted and not available to researchers. Please direct reference inquiries to the Archives of American Gardens: aag@si.edu.
Collection Rights:
Archives of American Gardens encourages the use of its archival materials for non-commercial, educational and personal use under the fair use provision of U.S. copyright law. Use or copyright restrictions may exist. It is incumbent upon the researcher to ascertain copyright status and assume responsibility for usage. All requests for duplication and use must be submitted in writing and approved by Archives of American Gardens.
Collection Citation:
Smithsonian Institution, Archives of American Gardens, W. Atlee Burpee & Company Records.
See more items in:
W. Atlee Burpee & Company records
W. Atlee Burpee & Company records / Series 2: Business Records / 2.3: Advertising and Promotions / 2.3.C: Customer Testimonials and Contest Letters / What Burpee Seeds Have Done for Me Contest
Archival Repository:
Archives of American Gardens
EDAN-URL:
ead_component:sova-aag-bur-ref1286
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  • View Contest Letters #4255-4288 digital asset number 1
  • View Contest Letters #4255-4288 digital asset number 2

William E.L. Bunn painting a mural for a post office in Minden, Neb.

Subject:
Bunn, William E. L. (Edward Lewis)  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Place:
Minden, Neb.
Date:
not after 1939
Topic:
Murals  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA)9801
See more items in:
William E. L. Bunn papers, 1863-2009
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_item_9801
Online Media:

William E. L. Bunn papers, 1863-2009

Creator:
Bunn, William E. L. (Edward Lewis), 1910-2009  Search this
Bunn, William E. L. (Edward Lewis), 1910-2009  Search this
Subject:
Wood, Grant  Search this
Allen, Lee  Search this
United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Painting and Sculpture  Search this
United States. General Services Administration  Search this
W.A. Sheaffer Pen Company  Search this
United States. Dept. of the Treasury. Section of Fine Arts  Search this
Type:
Photographs
Blueprints
Sketchbooks
Drawings
Transcriptions
Watercolors
Sketches
Interviews
Designs
Diaries
Topic:
Designers -- Iowa  Search this
Federal aid to the arts  Search this
Muralists -- Iowa  Search this
Mural painting and decoration -- Middle West  Search this
New Deal, 1933-1939  Search this
Theme:
Sketches & Sketchbooks  Search this
Lives of American Artists  Search this
Government Sponsorship of the Arts  Search this
Record number:
(DSI-AAA_CollID)7067
(DSI-AAA_SIRISBib)209200
AAA_collcode_bunnwill
Theme:
Sketches & Sketchbooks
Lives of American Artists
Government Sponsorship of the Arts
Data Source:
Archives of American Art
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:AAADCD_coll_209200
Online Media:

Statue of Liberty, Muscatine, Iowa, from the portfolio Statues of Liberty

Artist:
Arthur Taussig, born Los Angeles, CA 1941  Search this
Medium:
silver dye bleach print
Dimensions:
sheet: 8 x 16 in. (20.3 x 40.6 cm.)
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
1987
Topic:
Still life\other\flag  Search this
Monument\statue\Statue of Liberty  Search this
Cityscape\Iowa\Muscatine  Search this
Architecture Exterior\civic\tower  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist
Copyright:
©, H. Arthur Taussig
Object number:
1988.13.61
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk74485218b-6fda-43d0-8ea3-99bad79ca889
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1988.13.61

Statue of Liberty, Muscatine, Iowa, from the portfolio Statues of Liberty

Artist:
Arthur Taussig, born Los Angeles, CA 1941  Search this
Medium:
silver dye bleach print
Dimensions:
sheet: 8 x 16 in. (20.3 x 40.6 cm.)
Type:
Photography-Photoprint
Date:
1987
Topic:
Monument\statue\Statue of Liberty  Search this
Cityscape\Iowa\Muscatine  Search this
Architecture Exterior\civic\town hall  Search this
Credit Line:
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the artist
Copyright:
©, H. Arthur Taussig
Object number:
1988.13.62
Restrictions & Rights:
Usage conditions apply
See more items in:
Smithsonian American Art Museum Collection
Department:
Graphic Arts
Data Source:
Smithsonian American Art Museum
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/vk7e2d3813a-b906-41d2-b330-55c57eeddda6
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:saam_1988.13.62

Proof sheet for $50-100 of the Merchants Exchange NB of Muscatine, Iowa

Maker:
Bureau of Engraving and Printing  Search this
Measurements:
overall: 18.2 cm x 20.4 cm; 7 3/16 in x 8 1/16 in
Object Name:
Proof sheet
Date made:
1885
ID Number:
NNC.297219.00558
Accession number:
297219
See more items in:
Work and Industry: National Numismatic Collection
Coins, Currency and Medals
Data Source:
National Museum of American History
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/ng49ca746ac-cfb3-704b-e053-15f76fa0b4fa
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmah_1362638

Fusconaia ebena

Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Collection Date:
1886
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Fusconaia ebena (Lea, 1831)
Other Numbers:
Sort Order : MK-R27-C050-029
USNM Number:
528821
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Shimek Collection
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/335b4f3b5-dd5b-4ed7-8c24-f5cb0b4786e5
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_13654929

Cyclonaias tuberculata

Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Collection Date:
1886
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Cyclonaias tuberculata (Rafinesque, 1820)
USNM Number:
528695
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Shimek collection
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/35473a3fb-f8ec-4980-9ddc-6c92e7837779
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_909989

Cyclonaias tuberculata

Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Mississippi River, Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Collection Date:
1886
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Cyclonaias tuberculata (Rafinesque, 1820)
USNM Number:
515063
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Shimek collection
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/3493fee70-aac3-4eb7-9df5-cff158e49c60
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_909992

Ellipsaria lineolata

Collector:
Boepple  Search this
Microhabitat Description:
Freshwater  Search this
Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Ellipsaria lineolata (Rafinesque, 1820)
Unio securis
USNM Number:
152981
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/33132c00f-7655-44c1-82db-73717cb77475
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_377885

Actinonaias carinata carinata

Collector:
Boepple  Search this
Microhabitat Description:
Freshwater  Search this
Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Actinonaias carinata carinata (Barnes, 1823)
Unio ligamentinus
USNM Number:
152983
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/35d522f06-dd6d-4bc7-bc20-2482ff1a0111
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_377887

Fusconaia ebena

River Basin:
Mississippi River  Search this
Preparation:
Dry
Place:
Mississippi River, Muscatine, Iowa, United States
Common name:
Freshwater Bivalves
Published Name:
Fusconaia ebena (Lea, 1831)
Other Numbers:
Sort Order : MK-R27-C050-020
USNM Number:
508612
See more items in:
Invertebrate Zoology
Mollusca
Shimek Collection
Data Source:
NMNH - Invertebrate Zoology Dept.
GUID:
http://n2t.net/ark:/65665/3a9c25882-a62f-433c-ae3f-7a75e8337b5d
EDAN-URL:
edanmdm:nmnhinvertebratezoology_13654920

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