Unusual Collections: The Davenport Police Department “Lodgers” Books

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Department has shelves filled with the amazing history of Davenport and Scott County, Iowa. One small collection is from the Davenport Police Department (1990-04) and includes ledgers for police blotters, roll call, and Matron’s Records. A set of three books in that collection contain the names of those who used the services of the Lodgers Room inside the police department.

The Davenport Police Collection, 1990-04.

Sometimes referred to as the “Tramp” room in local newspapers, this facility was housed in the basement of the police department. It was initially one large room with basic wooden bunks built in. The lodgers at the police station were men while women and children would be housed with the Matron at the police barn on the corner of Main and 5th Streets (today the address is 130 W. 5th Street).

With the opening of the new City Hall in Davenport in 1896, the Davenport Police Station was on the first floor while the tramp room was located in the basement. In previous Davenport police station buildings, the tramp room was similarly located in the basements.

The Davenport Police Collection, 1990-04.

If you found yourself in Davenport with no place to stay, you could go to the police station and ask to be housed in the tramp room. You provided your name and gave over your possessions which were recorded and returned to you the next morning. No meals were served, but for many travelers, it was a safer alternative to sleeping outside; especially when faced with Iowa weather.

Initially, no blankets were provided, but later newspapers mention warm blankets on the bunks being a comfort during Iowa winters. Those who used the room may have been traveling through on their way to other places. Some were people in-between lodgings. Others may have been allowed to sleep in the tramp room if they were not sober as an alternative to jail.

The “Lodgers” volumes run from 1 Aug 1910 – 31 Aug 1922; 1 Sept 1922 – 19 May 1931; and 20 May 1931 – 20 May 1940. With less use and the need for more room for offices in City Hall, it is believed the tramp room was phased out by the 1950s.

These books are simply lists of names and dates but are interesting to study as one is able to see how needs changed with the seasons and the years. Summer numbers may have been lower than those in the winter and different years saw different numbers of lodgers. The Great Depression saw an increase in the number of lodgers after several years of decline in the 1920s.

The Davenport Democrat, March 22, 1931.

Nothing remains of the tramp room at City Hall or the old Police Ambulance/Police Matron’s building. We know there is much more we will be able to learn on the subject with the help of this collection.

(posted by Amy D.)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Party in the Park 2023 Edition: Lafayette Park

This week kicks off more summer activities encouraging the community to get outdoors together to explore the world around us. For the last few years, the City of Davenport has been hosting “Party in the Park” in neighborhood parks to showcase City and community resources and services as well as get individuals and families into their local parks. We visited Lafayette Park this week to start the festivities!

The history of this park began in 1839 when it was dedicated for “park purposes” by Antoine Le Claire. Lafayette Square, as it was dedicated, was one of three squares of green or natural spaces for the original town of Davenport. The other squares were named Washington and Bolivar according to a plat map of Davenport drawn on May 14, 1836, by Major William Gordon. Although in 1839, only Lafayette and Washington Squares officially became the first two parks in Davenport.

Lafayette Square is situated between Fourth and Fifth Streets and Brown and Gaines Streets. It is roughly a 2-acre urban park located at 700 West 4th Street.

Around the time of developing the city, a renewed interest in Marie-Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, better known by “Lafayette” as a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War, commanding American troops in several battles, including the Siege of Yorktown. After the Revolution, he returned in 1824 for a triumphal tour of the United States according to the article, “Early Davenport Honored Lafayette by Naming Square” published on June 30, 1956, in The Daily Times.

“Early Davenport Honored Lafayette by Naming Square.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jun. 30, 1956, page 9.

The City’s parks system appears to be on pause until 1885-1890 when additional parks began to be added and the establishment of the Board of Park Commissioners with A. W. Vander Veer, F. H. Griggs, and Christian Toerring as its first commissioners. The city’s citizens were advocating for “a glimpse of verdure and [to] enjoy a breath of fresh air” in one of the articles featured below entitled, “A City Park” published on August 3, 1867, in The Morning Democrat.

“A City Park.” The Morning Democrat (Davenport, Iowa), Aug. 3, 1867, page 4.

In The Daily Times, the newspaper reports that the City has “37 acres devoted to parks” including Lafayette and Central Park (now Vander Veer) purchased in 1885.

The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Mar. 1, 1888, page 2.

Lafayette Square received an update of a cast iron drinking fountain to hydrate its frequent visitors. This addition happened on June 8, 1899, according to The Daily Times.

The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jun. 8, 1899, page 5.

As the city entered the early 20th century, the use of its parks featured some of its youngest residents. They used the new playgrounds established in a few of Davenport’s parks to enjoy nature in the city.

In the 1920s, this trend of playgrounds at city parks continued. The City and its various associations used the playground model at four of its parks. In 1921, Davenport Playgrounds Association/Commission voted to turn playgrounds over to the city for operations. According to an article published on June 29, 1923, “all attendance records shattered at city playgrounds.”

In the 1940s, Lafayette Park and Playground saw the addition of a wading pool. In the picture below, one can see a group of children and a few mothers enjoying the water on a sunny day.

Wading Pool at LaFayette [Square] Park, 1944

At the end of the decade, the City inventoried its parks. Lafayette featured a backstop for softball, a jungle gym, a concrete wading pool, a concrete sandbox, and a large swing set of 6. Unfortunately, the wading pool was converted into a spray park and eventually removed in 1950.

From the 1950s to the present day, Lafayette Park was used to house a number of summertime playground activities including Junior Theater Show Wagon, fun contests, and little league baseball. The softball field and basketball court were used by the community. There were also design plans to update sections of the park and flora, including a bid for new trees.

In 1970, the Board of Park Commissioners celebrated its 80th Anniversary. They reminisced about the beginnings of the commission back in 1890 which only had 3 parks they had to manage.

“Park Board 80th Anniversary.” Times-Democrat (Davenport, Iowa), Mar. 30, 1970, page 14.

In 2010, the Parks and Recreation Department added a historically compatible sign and a new ADA-compatible playground.

The Davenport Public Library’s OWL and Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center celebrated the second oldest park in Davenport & its location in a Historic District by attending “Party in the Park!” We hope you all get to enjoy nature in Davenport and the rest of the Quad Cities this summer!

(posted by Kathryn)


“All Attendance Records Smashed at Playground.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jun. 29, 1923.

“Children Present Fine Program at Lafayette Square.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Aug. 26, 1922, page 7.

“A City Park.” The Morning Democrat (Davenport, Iowa), Aug. 3, 1867, page 4.

The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Mar. 1, 1888, page 2.

The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jun. 8, 1899, page 5.

“Davenport’s Junior Citizens find much to Amuse them at Lafayette Square Playground.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jul. 16, 1919.

“Early Davenport Honored Lafayette by Naming Square.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), Jun. 30, 1956, page 9.

“Lafayette to be finest of playgrounds.” The Davenport Democrat and Leader (Davenport, Iowa), July 11, 1918, page 10.

“Park Board 80th Anniversary.” Times-Democrat (Davenport, Iowa), Mar. 30, 1970, page 14.

“Playgrounds in Square.” The Daily Times (Davenport, Iowa), July 11, 1918, page 7.

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Special Collections Closed Until Further Notice – Exciting events at our Eastern and Fairmount branches!

For the safety of our staff and patrons, the Davenport Public Library – Main Street Branch will be closed until further notice as the City of Davenport deals with the unexpected partial collapse of the Davenport Apartments located across the street.*

A previous blog about the history of the Hotel Davenport, now the Davenport Apartments, is located here.

If you are looking for some exciting things to do, we have some events happening on Saturday, June 3rd.

Our Summer Reading Kick Off: Touch-A-Truck will be held from 10:00 am – 12:00 pm at our Fairmount Branch. Signing up for summer reading and being able to see and touch trucks sounds like a wonderful way to start summer! Get a leg up and sign-up for summer reading early by following this link: https://davenportlibrary.beanstack.com/reader365.

The Q-C History Hop: Center for Belgian Culture will be held from 9:30 – 11:30 am off-site at the Belgian Museum & Gift Shop, 1608 Seventh Street, Moline, IL 61265. This program does require registration which may be found on our Calendar of Events under Programs and Events or click here for more information or to register.

The Scott County Iowa Genealogical Society: Inspiration for Discovering and Writing Your Family’s History will be held at Eastern Branch in Meeting Room A from 1:00 – 3:00 pm. This program has an in-person or virtual option. Please click here for more information or the link to the virtual program.

For more events, please click here!

*Originally posted May 31, 2023. Updated June 2, 2023.

(posted by Amy D.)

Posted in Genealogy, Library, Local History | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Closed for Memorial Day, Open for New Hours

The Davenport Public Library will be closed on Memorial Day. Please join us in remembering those who gave their lives so that we could have the opportunity to live ours in freedom.

We will open on Tuesday, May 30th—and remind you of our department’s new hours of operation in case you are planning a trip to do some research.

The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center is now open the following hours:       

Monday 9 a.m.-8 p.m.

Tuesday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

First Saturday of each month 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

You can always access our online resources and blog at https://www.davenportlibrary.com/genealogy-history

Our Archive and Manuscript Collection at                                     https://archives.davenportlibrary.com/

Our research guides at                                                                                https://www.davenportlibrary.com/genealogy-history/research-guides

Or check out our social media pages on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter!

(posted by Karen)

Posted in Library, Local History | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Invented In Davenport: Examples of Davenport ingenuity

We came across this unusual ad from the Davenport Democrat and Leader from September 12, 1922.

We researched and found a John Flanagan of Davenport, Iowa applied for a patent for his Lifting-Jack on June 9, 1919, with the application being approved on January 27, 1920. The patent expired in 1937.

This led us to explore other inventions from Davenport. Some still impact us today, while others may not have caught on as initially hoped by their creators.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 9, 1914. Pg. 12

This stove lid featured in 1914 would retain heat and save a family money. Even better, it was invented by Davenport people with Davenport money!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 27, 1921. Pg. 17

A. F. Victor of Victor Animatograph Company in Davenport came up with the idea of a movie slide projector that could be used in schools and churches where it wasn’t very dark. His concept is still used today. Two years later, the company released a 16 mm camera and movie projector which was an even greater success.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 27, 1924. Pg. 32

Frank McElroy, a railroad conductor from Davenport, came up with a wonderful invention, an automatic shoe-shining machine that only cost a penny. We don’t know how successful this invention was, but it was featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine in February 1924!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 13, 1926. Pg. 3

Owen R. Dailey of Davenport created this mystery case. At first, it appears to be a mirror, but then it suddenly changes to a display case. The idea of the cabinet is a person would approach and see an ordinary mirror then suddenly the lights would go on to show a living person or mannequin displaying clothing. Other store merchandise could be put on display in the case as well. Mr. Dailey would take out many patents over the years from toys to automotive parts before his death on February 29, 1952, in Rockford, IL.

The Daily Times, December 22, 1928. Pg. 5

What more needs to be said? Yes, the first bakery bread slicer was invented in Davenport, Iowa. The 1928 machine is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C. Thank you Oscar F. Rohwedder for making our everyday lives easier.

Not really an invention in the traditional sense, but we also wanted to include a recipe created in Davenport. Al’s Lounge at 826 E. River Drive in Davenport was operated by Al Grandinetti for forty years. It was in the 1960s that Al began to promote his wineburger (and his wineburger with cheese) to his customers. To go with your wineburger, you could be served at the longest bar in the Midwest (according to Al) or enjoy Go-Go dancers in the 1960s and early 1970s with live music. In case you had trouble finding the establishment, Al placed a large Volkswagen Bug automobile on the roof. Al Grandinetti understood the art of promoting a business.

Al’s Lounge was across the street from the Robin Hood Flour Mill. While the mill has been gone since the 1975 explosion, Al’s building still stands and is currently a convenience and liquor store.

Maybe some of these inventions have sparked your own creativity. The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center in the Davenport Public Library – Main Street Branch is part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Not only do we have access to federal government documents, but our department is an all-electric designated U. S. Patent and Trademark Resource Center with support from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Feel free to contact 563-888-3373 for more information or to make a reservation/receive training. Please read more about it here.

(posted by Amy D.)

Posted in Local History | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jewish Americans in the Quad Cities

Celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month 2023 at the Davenport Public Library by exploring the resources on the history of the local Jewish community available at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center at Main|Library.

The Jews of Iowa by Simon Glazer (1904) Call No: SC 296.777 GLAZE SIM

“The Davenport Jewry, 1874-1903,” Chapter 20 of this earliest of summaries of the Jewish experience in the state, tells of the 1861 establishment of the B’nai Israel congregation and its 1874 reorganization, following the steps in the transition to Reform Judaism. The creation of Mt. Nebo Cemetery in the 1850s and the construction of Temple Emanuel in 1885 are described, as well as the spiritual leadership of Rabbi Issac Fall, the participation of women, and the controversy over Mr. Freuder. The chapter includes profiles of John Ochs and David Rothschild, and a brief overview of the Orthodox community in Rock Island.

Jews of Tri-Cities,” The Reform Advocate, Iowa Edition (1912) Call No: SC 296.0977 Jew

This special issue of the Chicago-based periodical is a set of biographical sketches of prominent members of the Jewish community in the Quad-Cities. In addition to of the names familiar from the Glazer history (Ochs, Raphael, Deutsch, Moritz, Rothschild, Petersberger), there are newer arrivals E. P. and Betty Adler, Herbert Scharff, Max Hirsch, Robert Kramer, and Rabbi Aaron Weinstein, among others. The cover features the congregation’s second synagogue building, erected in 1906 at Brady and 11th Streets.

A Century with Iowa Jewry by Jack Seymour Wolfe (1941) Call No.: SC 296 Wol

The “Tri-Cities” chapter of Wolfe’s 1941 statewide survey picks up where Glazer’s work left off, describing the building of the new temple, the healing influence of Rabbi W. H. Fineshriber’s tenure, the lay leadership, the 75th anniversary of the congregation’s founding, and the several associated Jewish organizations active on both sides of the Mississippi River in the 1920s and ’30s, including women’s groups.

The Illinois-Iowa Jewish Community on the Banks of the Mississippi River by Oscar Fleishaker (1957) Call No.: SC 301.452 Fle

By far the most detailed account of Jewish community history in the Quad Cities is Fleishaker’s 1957 dissertation for Yeshiva University. His extensive use of primary sources, including local and national newspaper articles, city directories, and the records of Temple Emanuel make for a rich portrait.

100th Anniversary: Temple Emanuel, Davenport, Iowa, 1861-1961 (1961) Call No.: SC 296 One

This 1961 anniversary booklet includes a brief history of Temple Emanuel, reminiscences of former clergymen, a membership roster, and many photographs depicting contemporary life at the synagogue.

This photograph of the 1915 Temple Emanuel confirmation class belongs to the RSSC Center’s collection of images from the J.B. Hostetler Studio (2793):

The collection also includes this 1918 image of Evelyn Scharff, daughter of Herbert E. Scharff (profiled in “Jews of Tri-Cities”) and Carrie Mayer (5536):

And a 1918 portrait of the Finkelstein sisters of Rock Island (5608)

Click on the image numbers to connect to genealogical information about these Jewish families of the Quad Cities on the Upper Mississippi River Digital Image Archive.

(posted by Katie)

Posted in Local History | Leave a comment

Preservation Week 2023: Building Resilient Communities

Each year, we participate in Preservation Week sponsored by Core: Leadership, Infrastructure, Futures with the objective to inspire action “to preserve personal, family, and community collections in addition to library, museum, and archive collections.” Preservation Week offers us a time to annually share the work we do with preserving local history and culture, but it also allows us to support our community in preserving their own collections.

The ways we assist with preserving historical and cultural materials is by offering our Preservation Workshop series, special programs on various conservation and and preservation topics, and blog posts on techniques or project we had completed to preserve our collections.

For this Preservation Week, we wanted to focus on disaster preparedness and planning. Here are highlights from our Preservation Workshop we host on Thursday, May 4th.

Disaster vs. Emergency

Disaster – A sudden accident or natural catastrophe that has the potential to cause great damage or loss of life.  

Disasters can be broken into two categories:

  • Minor Incident (-500): Might not be noticed for some time. Pages stuck together in clay-coated stock. From leaking pipes, spills 
  • Major Incident (500+): Access to collections could be restricted for an extended period. From storm damage, flood, water main break, fire 

Emergency – A serious, unexpected, and often dangerous situation requiring immediate action.  

Disasters and emergencies have many similarities and may require similar actions to treat and preserve collections.

Emergency Management Terms 

  • HIRA – Hazard Identification and Risk Assessment – systematic approach, determine objective of hazard and provide techniques to manage the risk. 
  • EOC – Emergency Operating Center – centralized location, supports and helps coordinate operations 
  • ICS – Incident Command System – used by public agencies to manage emergencies 
  • NIMS – National Incident Management System – guides all levels to work together to prevent, protect, mitigate, respond, and recover 
  • Partner Annexes – IDs coordinating agency and cooperating agencies 
  • Damage Assessment – implemented by emergency management agencies, assign resources to appropriate response & recovery activities  

Types of Disasters 

  • Natural – thunderstorm, hurricane, flooding, winter storm, extreme cold, extreme heat, tornado, earthquake, pandemic 
  • Everyday – structural fire, power outage/blackout, medical emergency 
  • Man-made (accidental or intentional) – cyber attack, civil disorder, acts of violence/terrorism, hazardous materials, chemical/biological/radiological/nuclear, dam failure 

4 stages of Emergency Management 

  • Mitigation/Prevention – prevent future emergencies or minimize their effects  
  • Preparedness – take actions ahead of time to be ready for an emergency 
  • Response – rebuild from an emergency 
  • Recovery – protect life and property in an emergency 

What is a Disaster Plan & Why should you have one?

A Disaster Plan is a guiding document that will help staff manage a disaster, or an actively maintained document containing procedures and information needed to prevent, mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies.  

Tells you what to do and how; protects the safety of people and property; facilitates a quicker return to normal operations; reduces losses; more prepared organizations mean a more resilient community; disasters are occurring with more frequency; non-clouded thought process (AJ Seely). 

Elements of a Disaster Plan

  • Immediate Response – list of numbers to have on hand when you need them 
  • Disaster Response Team – Leader, Communication Coordinator, Administration of Supplies, Collections Care, Documentation Coordinator 
  • Emergency Services and Contacts – fire, ambulance, police, emergency management, utilities 
  • Insurance – policy information, agent name and number, value estimation for your collections 
  • Facilities – floor plans, utilities shut offs, fire suppression, first aid 
  • Disaster Response Supply Inventory – keep up to date, protective equipment, salvage supplies 
  • Salvage Priorities – most important that you want saved, technology files (hard drives) 
  • About this Plan – why you have it, who maintains it 

Disaster Plan Templates  

Connecting with Emergency Responders 

Ways to Connect:

  • Have police & fire to do a walk-through
  • Invite them to an event
  • Ask for help with a site assessment and emergency planning
  • Invite emergency responders to participate in your training and drills
  • Bring food 

What they should know:

  • That your institution holds the collective memory and culture for your community
  • Your collections may be irreplaceable
  • Libraries and cultural institutions can be helpful in recovery, as information centers and community gathering places
  • Your layout – floor plans, location of building electrical and water systems, etc.  

Resources for Dealing with Disasters

  • City Emergency Management – As a component of the City and County’s Energy Assurance Plan, the City and County were able to develop an emergency preparedness guide. This comprehensive guide provides clear information about ways the Community can stay informed, be prepared, lower risk, prepare for and recover from many natural disasters and other events that cause short and long term disruption of energy resources. The guide provides information on warning sirens, what to do with animals in an emergency, how to prepare if you require prescriptions and more.
  • County Emergency Management Agency – Scott County Iowa, 1100 E. 46th St. Davenport, IA 52807 563-484-3050 ema@scottcountyiowa.gov
  • State Emergency Management Public Assistance Program – Iowa Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
  • IMALERT – The Iowa Museums Archives Libraries Emergency Response Team (IMALERT) offers 24 hour assistance for cultural institutions in the state experiencing an emergency or disaster. The IMALERT Hotline can connect staff with the information and expertise needed to respond to and recover from any level of incident from a leaking pipe to a major flood.
  • National Heritage Responders – respond to the needs of cultural institutions and the public during emergencies and disasters through coordinated efforts with first responders, state agencies, vendors, and the public.
  • FEMA Regional Office –  Region 7 office, located in Kansas City, MO, covers Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, and Nebraska
  • NEDCC – 24/7 Collections Emergency Hotline: 1-855-245-8303 provide telephone advice to institutions and individuals handling collection-related disasters. Information provided includes advice on drying wet collections and dealing with damage from fire, pests, and mold. This service does not include on-site assistance.

Recommendations for Immediate Action to Preserve Materials

  • Establish priorities – consider historical value, monetary value, uniqueness, ability to replace/other formats
  • Rank collections for evacuation – records needed to continue operating, irreplaceable materials
  • Moving materials into an area where you can address issues
  • Treating wet collections
  • What to do with moldy or contaminated collections
  • Drying a wet space 

Examples of Damage in our collections

Fire/Smoke damage from Fairmount Crematorium collection  

Fourth of July weekend, 2019 water damage from drinking fountain leak.

New Years holiday weekend, 2023 water damage from HVAC/humidification system

We hope this helps when you are preparing your own disaster plan. Happy Preservation Week!

(posted by Cristina)

Posted in Local History | Leave a comment

Happy National Library Week: There’s More to the Story!

Join us in celebrating National Library Week from April 23-29. This year’s theme is “There’s More to the Story.” The story of libraries in Davenport, Iowa began in 1839 with a library in the LeClaire Hotel. In the following decades, the community saw the building and dedication of the Clarissa Cook Memorial Library in the 1870s as well as one of its prominent citizens, Alice French, advocating for the building of a free public library with financial assistance from philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie.

Davenport’s Carnegie Library was dedicated on May 11, 1904, after the library levy was passed in 1900 to support library services. Each historical moment in our past shares more of our story. To read more about the Davenport Public Library’s history, check out the following blogs:

We are honored by the City of Davenport with a Proclamation for National Library Week.


Celebration Days during National Library Week!

During National Library Week, there are special celebration days that highlight aspects of Library work and the mission of libraries.

Monday, April 24th — Right to Read Day

Learn about book bans and their call for support from “readers, advocates, and library lovers to fight back against censorship in a national day of action to defend, protect, and celebrate your right to read freely.”

Tuesday, April 25th– National Library Workers Day

Libraries would not be the same without their friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable staff members! Celebrate a librarian or library worker in your life. Check out some photos of the wonderful staff at the Davenport Public Library:

Wednesday, April 26th– National Library Outreach Day

Our staff is busy inside the library, but we are just as busy out in our community! Check these fun photos of staff out and about in Davenport and the Quad Cities:

Thursday, April 27th– Take Action for Libraries Day

Get involved with Davenport Public Library by considering joining our Friends of the Davenport Public Library or a being library trustee. Another way to get involved in volunteering with us! Check out the positions here: https://www.davenportlibrary.com/about-us/contact-us/volunteer.

Here are some pictures of our Friends of the Davenport Public Library supporting the library:

We would love for you to celebrate with us however you can! Come visit us at your favorite library branch! Or check out your new favorite! Learn about local history and genealogy with us at the Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center located in The Library | Main.

Visit us online with all our many resources. You can access them through our website: https://www.davenportlibrary.com/.

Follow us on social media:

Happy National Library Week!

(posted by Kathryn)

Posted in Local History | Leave a comment

Give a Hoot for History

Here in Special Collections, we Give a Hoot for History!

Saturday, April 22, 2023, is Earth Day. In observance of the event here are some photographs and clippings representing our commitment to preserving Davenport’s history of caring for Mother Earth.

Special Collections serves as the Archives for the City of Davenport. In the 1980s the city began a public-private coordinated effort to reduce litter called Operation Clean Davenport.

Times-Democrat July 25, 1980
Times-Democrat July 25, 1980

The program was an integral part of reducing litter by 70% by 1992 according to an article in the QCT from February 17, 1992. Lack of funding brought the program to a close at about that same time, but here are some images showing Davenport’s citizens in action.

Davenport Public Library got involved as well, inviting Woodsy the Owl to read with some of our younger patrons.

Accession #2004-29 Operation Clean Davenport
Accession #2004-29 Operation Clean Davenport

Remember Woodsy’s catchphrase??

Speaking of birds, we are pleased to have the collection of Dr. Herbert J. Hodges, an amateur naturalist and professor at Saint Ambrose University. He challenged a group of students on the first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, to join him at Credit Island for a chance to “see a natural ecological setting at work”.

One wonders if the fifteen students who walked the Island that day took his words to heart? Hodges maintained his love of nature and Credit Island until his death in 2009. We proudly preserve his papers in Accession 2014-03 containing over 1000 color photographic slides, research, records, observations, statistics, and correspondence regarding the local bird population in the Scott County, Iowa, and Rock Island County, Illinois greater Tri/Quad City area.

  • Accession 2014-03 Dr. Herbert J. Hodges Papers
  • Accession 2014-03 Dr. Herbert J. Hodges Papers
  • Accession 2014-03 Dr. Herbert J. Hodges Papers

Over the years, many projects have been undertaken for Earth Day. On the very first Earth Day, some Davenport students chose to create a work of art from their clean-up project as shown in this newspaper clipping.

Times-Democrat April 22, 1970

We leave you with this catchy illustration from another item from the City Archives created by Philip Tunnicliff for the Parks department in 1941.

“Therapeutic Chart for Street Trees,” by Philip Hunter Tunnicliff.

We anticipate you will find a way to “Toot Your Hooter” while cleaning up your community, planting a tree, raising awareness, visiting a wildlife sanctuary, or creating a work of art as you observe Earth Day 2023.

(posted by Karen)

Posted in Local History | Leave a comment

Opening Our Collections: Schmidt Family – Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company

We recently received additional items to the Schmidt Family – Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company Collection – 2016-46 that we had to blog about this week.

First, a brief history of the company. In 1875, Hugo Schmidt, Sr. along with Charles Reupke and Bernhard Schwarting opened the Davenport Steam Bakery which was later known as Reupke, Schmidt & Co. It was one of the first cracker and macaroni companies in the middle west.

After Hugo’s untimely death in July 1878, his oldest son Oswald (aged 16 years) joined the business as an accountant. Oswald soon bought out his father’s partners and joined with his cousin, Paulo Roddewig, in 1887 as the Roddewig-Schmidt Cracker Company. In the early 1890s, the cousins sold the cracker and cookies portion of the business and focused on candy. They became the Roddewig-Schmidt Candy Company located at 4th and Iowa Streets in Davenport.

In 1904, Oswald and Paulo purchased the Crescent Macaroni Company from the Loos Brothers of Chicago, IL along with their factory in Davenport. The macaroni and candy sections thrived in the early 1900s until a fire destroyed the Macaroni factory in 1915. A new fire-safe factory was built on the site of the old one at 427 Iowa Street. The Schmidt family sold the company in the late 1960s. The Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company closed in 1991 and the building was turned into loft apartments in the early 2000s.

We are endlessly amazed at the items in this collection. Here are a few of the items recently donated:

A program from the 1927 Sales Conference held in Davenport.

1927 Sales conference program – Front cover. The company had a motto and slogan.
1927 Sales conference program – Inside pages. We wonder if John Lumsden actually spoke for just one hour.
1927 Sales conference program – Back cover.

Advertisements and brochures of items produced by the company.

A flattened box of Crescent Mac’ro Nets pasta along with two recipe books dating from the early 1900s. What better way to advertise than to give out recipe books in the stores or by mail for housewives looking for new menu ideas.

Two recipe books that would be given away in a store or could be mailed upon request. The booklet on the right dates to about 1914.

Just in case you want to try some new recipes; we are including four recipes for your enjoyment.

In this donation were several identical metal boxes. The majority of the boxes contained paperwork relating to factory business. This one held an unusual surprise.

Written over the original ink writing (which stated canceled checks) was a new darker ink that stated Old Pkgs. That is what it contained. Two old Crescent Macaroni and Cracker boxes.

One contained elbow macaroni. Most likely dating to the early 1900s.

The Elbow Macaroni box printed for the P.H. Butler Company who distributed the product.
The colorful end of the box. At times, the company printed the name of the pasta as L-Bow macaroni.
Elbow macaroni length. c. late 1910s.

The second box is unusual in that it is labeled as Hard Bread. We knew hard bread was a newer name for hard tack that soldiers carried during the Civil War. While it still existed in the early 1900s, it was not listed as a product commonly sold by the Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company.

Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company box. The box was filled with Hard Tack. A sample appears in the picture. c. 1918.
A better view of the iconic Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company symbol along with showing the thickness of the Hard Bread. c. 1918.
Hard Bread, or Hard Tack, measurement. c. 1918.

The mystery of the Hard Bread may have been solved when we came across a letter in the donation dated October 4, 1918, to Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company salesmen. The letter is a patriotic stance on supporting the fight for the war effort even when it pinches at home. We learned the Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company had received a government contract to supply the U.S. troops with Hard Bread. Round-the-clock production of Hard Bread meant fewer regular items would be produced due to shortage of supplies and the need for factory equipment to be dedicated to the production of Hard Bread. In the end, for the salesmen, it meant fewer sales on fewer items.

October 4, 1918 letter from Crescent Macaroni and Cracker Company to its salesmen. Most likely to keep support of the war strong and explain why fewer products would be produced.

We hope you enjoyed a peek into this wonderful collection. We extend our deepest thanks to the Schmidt family’s descendants for their donation.

(Posted by Amy D.)

Posted in Local History | Leave a comment