This Week in JPL History: Ribbons, Permits, and Pool Rooms: Fundraising at the JPL

In years past the JPL launched its annual campaign in September. An integral part of this campaign would have been tag days. Before there was Kickstarter and Indiegogo there were tag days. It was crowdsourcing long before crowdsourcing existed. Instead of funding projects from the outright ridiculous to the mundane, tag days were the on-the-ground fundraising mainstay of charitable causes.

What is a tag day? During a tag day volunteers or ‘taggers’ are sent out by an organization to stand outside various locations throughout the city. These locations were usually public spaces like banks and stores. Armed with a collection box and ‘tags’ (usually ribbons), taggers would ask passerby for donations to their cause. Donors would then get one of the tags to pin onto their coat and wear as a sign of their generosity.

We have the following anecdote from a tagger in the 40s:

“It Happened Long Long Ago. Money was needed, Income small, expenses many.
The day in May was sunny, I was standing on St. Urbain, corner Mt. Royal.
Almost everyone put money into the box. While I was walking towards Main St., I approached a few young men to buy a tag. One young man looked at me with bright smiling eyes. ‘Miss if you would go into the Pool Room, you would make a lot of money for your library.’ Without thinking for a second I replied, ‘Would you escort me?’
So, with a beating heart, I walked into the Pool Room. Can you picture a young girl, forty years ago, in a Pool Room?
I ran to the Library on Esplanade & Duluth. The box was quite heavy and I was very happy.”


This letter was handed out to taggers and authorized them to tag

The This Week in Jewish Public Library History blog series was made possible through the generous support of the Peter and Ellen Jacobs Virtual Archives Fund.

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