Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.


Morning Star, November 7, 2004, pg. 5

Did you hear the amazing good news? The telephone company has finally made it possible to call Marshall toll free! Albion is now part of the 21st century communications network with the rest of the county. This will mean extra money in the pockets of Albion’s residents who heretofore had to shell out toll charges to call county offices that served us in that aforementioned county seat.

Back in the early 1930s, Albion’s merchants pulled together during the Great Depression to participate in the National Recovery Act. This government program of the Roosevelt administration was designed to put people back to work, and involved a variety of programs. A highlight of Albion’s participation was a large mile-long parade held on September 20, 1933 which featured a coffin entitled “Depression.”

For local merchants, they had to agree to specific governmental rules and regulations called codes (hundreds of codes were adopted) in order to be a member in good standing. This included paying fair wages (40¢ an hour minimum wage) as set by the government, adhering to specific work-week hours, abolishing child labor, and even price-fixing, too. This was governed by a new bureaucracy, the National Recovery Administration (NRA). Although its rules were declared illegal by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1935, the NRA was a major early attempt to pull the country out of the Great Depression. It was succeeded by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) which funded various building projects throughout Albion like our City Hall, the Kalamazoo River retaining wall, and the Victory Park band shell.

As evidence of their participation, each participating merchant and factory was given an NRA “Blue Eagle” poster which was placed in the window. This symbol could also be placed on product packaging. A letter sent to businesses stated: “You were asked to display the Blue Eagle as evidence of your promise to do your part and as a symbol of your faith in the ability of American trade and industry to defeat depression by united effort.” Nearly every business joined the bandwagon and participated, for not to participate would infer that they were selfish and unpatriotic.

From our Historical Notebook this we illustrate an actual NRA poster that was placed in an Albion business at the time. It measures 11 inches wide by 14 inches tall. In big red letters it states on top, “NRA,” with “WE DO OUR PART” on the bottom. A blue eagle is illustrated in the center, and in its claws are an industrial wheel on the viewer’s left, with electrical currents on the right. The inside blue text states “MEMBER, U.S.” How many of our readers remember these NRA posters that were placed in the windows of Albion’s downtown merchants?

National Recovery Administration (NRA) Poster, 1933


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