Opening the Box: Davenport Gyro Club Records

We’re opening the box of our recent donation of the Davenport Gyro Club Records. We received this collection this past summer. It contains meeting minutes, membership records, publications, and photographs of its membership and activities. This collection helps us to preserve the history of this local organization that has a very interesting history. One may see what else this collections has by visiting its finding aid in our archival materials catalog: 2023-37: Davenport Gyro Club Records.

The idea for the Davenport Gyro Club was born during World War I during a lecture about the properties of the gyroscope attended by E.T. Heald, general secretary of the Davenport YMCA. Heald was so impressed with the qualities of the gyroscope that he suggested it as the organization name for a group that started with 25 young men, envisioned as a junior Rotary Club with the premise summed up in the word “friendship.” The name Gyro Club was adopted. The organization first was going to limit its membership to 50-75 people, but they had to abandon that idea because they become a popular group who had regular meetings and joined local sports competitions. By September of 1920 the roster was up to 100 names.

The Davenport Gyro Club’s charter members from January 15, 1921 number around 83 individuals!

Unknown to them, other Gyro Clubs existed. In the fall of 1920 and winter of 1921, the Gyro Club of Davenport was contacted by the international organization to either change their name or join the larger organization. They met with the Gyro Club members in Chicago to learn more about the other organization which first formed in Ohio. On April 4, 1921, the Davenporters became the 11th club in Gyro International.

The Davenport Gyro Club was an active organization from its founding. Speakers appearing before them were prominent men of the day. It originally had a glee club and minstrel troupe that toured the county as was much in demand. Members participated in district and international conventions, several of which were held in Davenport. The club’s Twelfth Night celebrations attracted thousands to the Davenport levee to watch the burning of Christmas trees. Numerous dinners and dances were held.

An auxiliary group composed of wives of members, the Gyrettes, was also formed. Much of the organizations history is from the 1971 50th anniversary pamphlet.

Below is a sampling of the collections contents including photographs from a convention, meeting minutes spanning from the 1930s to the 2000s, and publications including The Gyroscope, the international organization’s magazine, and membership directories.

The Gyro Club International is still an active organization who meets monthly. Davenport’s Gyro Club is in District II. Below are views of the Gyro Club International’s websites.

Come down to the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center to open these boxes for your self!

(posted by Kathryn)

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