September Artifact Detective: “We Chirp for the Cleveland Press” Button

By Jeni Ashton, Associate Curator

The National Law Enforcement Museum has collected more than 8,000 artifacts to-date, so we can’t always devote as much time to researching individual objects as we would like. Please help us uncover some of the stories behind our objects. Leave a comment with anything you may know about the featured item. We welcome all information, and we’d appreciate sources and citations when possible. Thanks!

Button, c 1896,Collection of the NLEM 2008.34.1
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.