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Artifact Detective

Help us learn more about our collection!

“We Chirp for the Cleveland Press” Button

Jeni Ashton, Associate Curator

With the sheer volume of artifacts that have been acquired by the National Law Enforcement Museum—more than 7,500 to date—we can’t always devote as much time to researching individual objects as we would like. So we are calling on you to help us uncover some of the stories behind our objects. On a regular basis, I will post pictures and any information we have on specific objects in our collection on our blog and in this newsletter. We want you to tell us anything you may know about the item. All information is welcome; sources and citations are requested when possible.

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Ephemera, Button, c 1896. 2008.34.1.
Collection of the National Law Enforcement Museum, Washington, DC


What we know:

  • Produced circa 1896
  • “We Chirp for the Cleveland Press”
  • Made by The Whitehead & Hoag Company, Newark, NJ
  • Patented April 14 & July 21, 1896
  • Cleveland Press was an afternoon newspaper published in Cleveland, OH, from 1878-1982

We checked in with the Cleveland Press Collection at the Cleveland State University. They felt sure that this had something to do with the Cleveland Press but could not find a reference to any promotion like this button. The Special Collections Librarian there suggested that “maybe it was for some sort of early community watch?  Or for kids as part of a news reporting feature from the juvenile crowd?  The button has SOMETHING to do with reporting news to the Cleveland Press.”

According to the Cleveland Press Collection’s Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant by Charles Godfrey Leland (Ballantyne Press, 1889), the word “chirp” means “to inform or snitch.”

What we want to know:

  • Why were these buttons produced?
  • Who wore them?
  • What is the cause that the officer is chirping for?
  • Do any other pins like these exist?

We are also looking for information about the use of law enforcement images in the American media or law enforcement involvement with American newspapers. Please leave a comment if you have anything to share.