Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, November 18, 2018, pg. 5
A happy Thanksgiving to my readers of this column. One hundred years ago saw the end of World War I. During the War, Albion factories switched to War contracts with the United States Government, producing much needed parts, implements, and supplies for our troops and operations overseas.
One such factory was Union Steel Products, which at the time was the world's largest producer of oven and broiler pan shelves. At the end of the War in November 1918, special solid bronze shield-shaped badges were given to employees who worked on War work contracts, or those who had worked at Union Steel since the War began. The badges were given "on recognition of their loyalty and willingness to help the company in speeding up the war work and turning it out in record time," stated the Recorder on November 18. Two-hundred badges were produced and distributed. The medals were produced by W & H of Newark, New Jersey. They measure 41 mm. tall, and 35 mm. wide.
The obverse features the text "UNION STEEL PRODUCTS CO." in a top ribbon, with an American eagle in the center surrounded by a Stars and Stripes background. The center text in large lettering states "WAR WORKER."
The reverse contains a vertical pin in the center to attach to work clothes. In the center is a stamped number, signifying the employee work number. In small print at the top appears "W & H," with "NEWARK, N.J." on the bottom. This would be the Whitehead & Hoag Company, a major producer of political, advertising items, and buttons. It was this same firm that later produced the 1929 Jackson, Michigan Centennial medal designed by Albion College graduate James B. Field. In the center of the reverse is stamped a serial number, which I am assuming is the employee number. I've got two: one with "1," and the other with "71."
From our Historical Notebook this week we present photographs of this special badge, a reminder of Albion's participation in the War effort from 100 years ago. How many of our readers have one of these badges that has been passed down in the family through the years?
Union Steel War Worker badge, Obverse side
Union Steel War Worker badge, Reverse side
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic