"SHSI Certificate of Recognition"
"Best on the Web"


Encyclopedia Dubuque

www.encyclopediadubuque.org

"Encyclopedia Dubuque is the online authority for all things Dubuque, written by the people who know the city best.”
Marshall Cohen—researcher and producer, CNN

Affiliated with the Local History Network of the State Historical Society of Iowa, and the Iowa Museum Association.




IROQUOIS PEARL BUTTON COMPANY

From Encyclopedia Dubuque
Jump to navigationJump to search
Mussel boats docked along the river bank with the shells it and other boats have harvested piled on the shore. Courtesy of Bartsch Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City
Stages of button production from shell to blanks ready for polishing. Courtesy of Bartsch Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City

IROQUOIS PEARL BUTTON COMPANY. The major competitor in Dubuque of the STANDARD PEARL BUTTON COMPANY was HARVEY CHALMERS AND SONS which established its blank-cutting operation in Dubuque in 1901. This business, called the Iroquois Pearl Button Company, offered on-the-job training. Its four hundred workers were paid reduced wages until they mastered their job. This was in comparison to other similar businesses which paid no wages until the job was learned. After they had mastered their job, workers could earn up to $20.00 weekly. The work was year-round and the plant had to be expanded in 1902.

A pile of processed shell. Courtesy of Bartsch Collection, State Historical Society of Iowa, Iowa City

A temporary collapse in the industry occurred in 190 and 1903, but Iroquois held as much as $45,000 worth of shells for winter processing. Other businesses had to close.

The Mississippi River clamshell button industry surpassed ocean buttons for decades because of their lower cost of harvesting.

The 1904-1905 Dubuque City Directory located this business at 1 Levee.

The 1913 Dubuque and Dubuque County Directory stated that this business was located at 345 7th.

See: BUTTON INDUSTRY

Jeremiah M. TURNER

---

Source:

1. Tigges, John," Button, Button, Who's Got..." Telegraph Herald, February 20, 2007, p. 1