Have you visited the National Pearl Button Museum @ the History and Industry Center yet? It is an incredible experience to learn the rich history of Muscatine and the pearl button industry. There is such a wealth of information to be gleaned from a tour of the facility.
I had the privilege of taking the tour with the director, Terry Eagle. He took me on a trip through history beginning with how the pearl button industry found its way to the central region of the U.S., its role as a symbol of wealth, and a way for those with no prior knowledge to supplement their income. It was a trade equivalent to the gold rush to the West, it created a huge employment opportunity in multiple forms including blanking shops, button factory workers, and pearl agents. These roles played a huge part in driving the commercial sales of pearl items across the U.S. and the world.
Muscatine’s role in history was not one that I was previously aware of. I recognized the many large businesses that called our town home, but I was unaware that much of what drew people to the area in the early 1900’s was the pearl button industry.
If you have not yet visited the museum, take the time to go and learn the history of our city and see how a bend in the Mississippi River created an industry that led to the amazing city we call home.
Also, go check out my “Moving Forward” interview with Terry on our Facebook page “Voice of Muscatine”.