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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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898 Iowa circa 1968 prior to URBAN RENEWAL. Photo courtesy: Telegraph Herald


Boys' Club membership card. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Reverse side. Photo courtesy: Jim Lang

In 1906 the Boys' Club was founded in the United States. By 1944 the organization had an estimated quarter of a million members ranging in age from 6 to 18. The first object of a Boys' Club was to mold character. During the hours after school, the doors of the organization were open to anyone without restriction on race, religion, or nationality. Fees were kept low to allow anyone to join. In 1944 the Dubuque Club with 710 members was one of 24 member clubs of the national organization. (1)

The Dubuque chapter was founded by Miss Kate Keith VAN DUZEE on January 15, 1900. Known originally as the Dubuque Boys' Welfare Association, the organization was incorporated as the Dubuque Boys' Club in 1915. Cornelius M. STEFFENS was the first president. (2) At the golden anniversary of the organization in 1950, David Armstrong, head of the national organization, noted that the Dubuque club was older than the national and praised the club's growth from thirteen members to nearly 1,200. (3) Miss Van Duzee was honored with the organization's silver award, the highest award presented to laymen in Boys' Club work, at the same event. Judson Keith DEMING received a bronze keystone award for his role as a member of the board of directors since 1908. (4)

Invitation to a meeting of the Boys' Club. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding.

The Club met in many locations throughout the community. The first meeting of thirteen boys occurred in Van Duzee's home on 14th and White STREETS. From there the Club moved to 9th and Main in rooms above a store. In 1908 the location changed again to 8th and Bluff over Kerper Electric. The following year, the Club's location was in a building in rooms over the Iowa Clothing Store on the southwest corner of 5th and Main. From 1911 until 1924 the Club occupied the G.A.R. rooms of the DUBUQUE CITY HALL. The Club then moved to the High School Annex Building on 12th and White. It was around this time that the Dubuque Boys' Club Band was formed under the direction of Vincent CHEWNING. (5) The Dubuque Boys' Club purchased the former DUBUQUE BREAD COMPANY at 9th and Iowa in 1934. (6)

In 1945 the club had 767 members, the highest in the organization's history to that time. Although many years had passed, many of the same activities dated back to the club's organization. There had been forty-one annual banquets, the garden club in 1945 was twenty-nine years old, and a May walk had been held for thirty-five years. (7)

In 1952 thirty-five BB guns received a second use at the Club. Found during a housecleaning at the police station, the air rifles were given to the Club with the understanding that they would be only used under the supervision on the Club's indoor range. (8) Boys involved in the program were eligible for membership in the junior section of the National Rifle Association and could win prizes for marksmanship.

Beginning in 1960 the second annual recognition dinner was held to honor outstanding public service in support of the Club. The same year a Boys Club "mayor" and "council" were elected. Those elected met with the city manager and regular city council for dinner at the Club. (9)

A campaign for raise $500,000 was announced in 1965 for the construction of a new building to replace the building at 9th and Locust which had been used since 1933. (10) This building allowed facilities to be divided between three floors and a basement area. In 1965 the building was considered "hazardous." The new building was to be constructed according to national Boys' Club specifications. (11) Building plans called for a building with enough space to accommodate 1,500 boys and permit the club to accept boys from ages six to eight. (12)

In 1966 a proposal was made to purchase land at the northeast corner of JACKSON PARK and then acquire private property adjacent to it. A masonry building for the Club would be constructed on the site which contained about 1/7 of the park. The proposal listed as benefits of the location included that it would place 31.2% of the current 1,170 members within 1.5 miles of the center, 47.6% within 3/4 of a mile, and 65.4% within one mile. (13)

In 1967 property was purchased on both sides of West 13th Street for a new building when the facility at 9th and Iowa streets had to be demolished for URBAN RENEWAL. The city agreed to close the street between the two lots, and the present building, south of the RYAN HOUSE, was built. It was dedicated in November, 1967. (14)

In January 1998 the Dubuque Boys' Club and the DUBUQUE GIRLS' CLUB announced their agencies had agreed to merge. The new organization was called the BOYS' AND GIRLS' CLUB OF GREATER DUBUQUE.

See: Daryl KOCH

Boys' Club project. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Craft project and entry card. Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
2010 photo of the Dubuque Boys' and Girls' Club.
Photo courtesy: Bob Reding
Photo courtesy: Cathy's Treasures, 156 Main, Dubuque
Photo courtesy: Jim Lang
Boys' Club picture (1916). Photo courtesy: Joe Jacobsmeier



1. "Celebrate Boys' Club Week," Telegraph Herald, April 9, 1944, p. 23

2. "Observance of Boys' Club Week to Open," Telegraph Herald, May 18, 1941, p. 21

3. "Boys' Club Marks Half Century," Telegraph Herald, January 18, 1950, p. 18. Online: https://news.google.com/newspapers?nid=aEyKTaVlRPYC&dat=19500118&printsec=frontpage&hl=en

4. "Youth Leaders Given Challenge,"....

5. "Boys' Club Band is Heard First Time at Comiskey Field," Telegraph-Herald and Times-Journal, August 10, 1930, p. 9

6. "Youth Leaders Given Challenge"...

7. "Dubuque Boys' Club 45 Years Old on Monday," Telegraph-Herald, January 14, 1945, p. 11

8. "BB Guns Careless Boys 'Lost' Now Used by Others on Range," Telegraph Herald, November 9, 1952, Dubuque News, p. 1

9. "Boys Club Elects Mayor, City Council," Telegraph Herald, November 13, 1960, p. 5

10. "Pledge by Mail," Telegraph Herald, June 4, 1965, p. 22

11. "Boys' Club Starts Drive for New Building," Telegraph-Herald, January 21, 1965, p. 1

12. Boys' Club Starts Drive for New Building," Telegraph Herald, January 21, 1965, p. 1

13. Thompson, Dave, "Boys' Club Offers Jackson Park Improvement," Telegraph Herald, January 16, 1966, p. 4

14. "Chronology," Telegraph Herald, December 31, 1967, p. 19