Saturday, May 30, 2020

Des Moines Boosters Club - Button Day 1907

(from The Des Moines Register. January 19, 1907)
Here's an idea we could use today.

Back around the turn of the century, cities big and small had booster clubs, the purpose of which was to arouse people's interest in the town.

Des Moines sold shiny blue buttons its citizens were expected to wear to show their enthusiasm. A normal button cost 50 cents, and a plated one, $1.00. The button had an ear of corn emblazoned on it along with the words, "Des Moines Does Things."

At 11:00 a.m. on Button Day, everything came to a stop for ten minutes so that everyone could "concentrate his deepest thoughts on how to make it bigger and better," explained the Cedar Rapids Gazette.

"It was assumed that everybody who wore a button would feel in a way committed to the cause," reported The Des Moines Register. "The vital factor in the campaign is loyalty to Des Moines. The loyal booster is expected to quit knocking the town. He is required to believe that it is the best town of its size on earth, and is going to be better. He is expected to place the interests of the community above selfish individual considerations. He is expected to patronize home industries, spending his money in such a way that it will remain in circulation in Des Moines."

The Des Moines Register seemed to agree with
the Gazette's idea to rid the city of half its politicians.
(The Des Moines Register. January 27, 1907)
The paper reported there was only one small flaw in the campaign. The button was not made in Des Moines, and because of that - Union workers started their own button campaign. Their button read, "Des Moines Does Funny Things."

Overall, the campaign proved a big success. But the Cedar Rapids Gazette while praising the Button Day Campaign offered their own prescription for making Des Moines a better place.

Later that year, the city of Davenport started its own Button Campaign to bring "New Factory 201" to town. The boosters distributed the buttons on May 7, 1907. They charged 50 cents per button with all the proceeds from the campaign going to bring a new factory and more jobs to the city.

"Tell everyone what a great thing it is to be a Davenporter," proclaimed the boosters. "Especially traveling men."

"Let the whole world know what the city is striving for. Everyone who comes in will know, let everyone who goes out spread the glad tidings."

In June, it was reported that the Davenport Boosters had raised $1049 from the sale of their buttons.

(from The Daily Times. June 19, 1907)

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