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Encyclopedia Dubuque


"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.


From Encyclopedia Dubuque
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Photo of potential "investors." Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald

CHAIN LETTER "CLEARING HOUSE." Opened less than one hour before it was closed on May 16, 1935, Dubuque's first "clearing house" for notarizing $1 chain letters was located at 965 Main. The enterprise was closed by police after sixty-four Dubuque residents had enrolled by contributing one dollars to be sent to the person whose name appeared first on the list and adding twenty-five cents for the cost of the notary seal, signature and other expenses. The business was called the "Dubuque Prosperity Club."

A second attempt was made the following day only to be closed by the chief of police. Unfazed, the operators reopened a few hours later using the name "Key City Prosperity Club" for their scheme. This time the police chief and officers arrived threatening arrests if the enterprise reopened.



"Chain Letter 'Clearing House' Here Closed," Telegraph-Herald, May 19, 1935, p. 13