The British Museum's collections, £16.99
Pollyanna club badge
USA, around 1913
This badge would have been worn by members of the Pollyanna club. The heroine of the classic children's book Pollyanna, written by Eleanor H. Porter in 1913, is known for her relentlessly cheerful attitude and ability to see the positive side of the most adverse of situations. After her father's death she has to go and live with her rich, cold-hearted and embittered Aunt Polly. However, her sunny nature prevails and by the end of the book the whole village is joining in her 'glad game'.
Clubs can be based on comics, films and television, as well as books such as Pollyanna and more recently the Harry Potter series. Membership badges add to the sense of group solidarity. Secret societies in particular are characterized by some form of ritual or password, serving to exclude outsiders and increase loyalty to the group. Sometimes membership of a group has to be earned and a badge is recognition of achievement. Clubs are particularly popular with children as they give their young members a sense of status apart from their families and school. Newspaper clubs for children were established in large numbers between 1919 and 1939 in Britain. All the national and many regional papers had their own children's pages featuring stories, cartoon strips and competitions, and clubs were formed to instil lifelong loyalty to the paper.
P. Attwood, Status symbols: identity and b (London, British Museum Press, 2004)