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The Emilie and Marie Stapp Archive

 

At the turn of the century when most women were expected to stay home, Emilie and Marie Stapp chose a different path. Working for rival newspapers in Des Moines, Iowa, the Stapp sisters were role models not only for women and young girls, but young citizens--boys and girls alike.

In 1908 Emilie published The Trail of the Go-Hawks, the first in a series of popular children's novels. It's success led to the founding of the Go-Hawks, an international organization for children dedicated to doing good deeds and making the world a better place.

In 1915 the Go Hawk tribe was featured in an article by Frank G. Moorhead for Today's Magazine. Impressed that poet James Whitcomb Riley had agreed to become the tribe's Big Chief of All the Go-Hawks, Moorhead wanted to know more about the organization. He discovered that the idea to create a national organization came to Emilie Stapp, author of the Go-Hawk series books, when she received a letter from a young boy named Jimmie in 1913.

Go Hawk doll (1930)

From Today's Magazine, 1915. Emilie Stapp, founder of the Go-Hawks tribe, is pictured in the circle on the right next to poet, James Witcomb Riley, Big Chief of All the Go-Hawks.


Seriously ill and confined to a wheel chair, Jimmie wrote that he wanted to be part of the fun "but no one would choose him to be part of their tribe." Using her position as Literary page editor at the Des Moines Capital newspaper, Stapp added a daily feature for children entitled "The Happy Tribe."

Membership in the club was open to anyone who performed at least one act of kindness per day. "To make the world a better place" was chosen as the group's motto.

The Tribe would eventually gain a membership of 80,000 children and adults with Rudyard Kipling joining his fellow poet, James Witcomb Riley, as
Big Chief of All the Go-Hawks in England. The

 


Emilie Stapp answering children's fan mail
extension of the club overseas came about as result of the Tribe's efforts to help Belgian refugees (see above, center) who had fled across the English Channel to escape the German invasion. On July 4, 1917, the governor of Iowa sent out a proclamation for the "Happy Tribe Million Penny War Fund." It was followed by similar proclamations in Texas and Alabama. By 1921, more than $43,000 or 4,300,892 pennies had been collected for orphans of the war. Following her retirement from

Isabella's Big Secret (1946) tells
the story of Isabella's war work.
Houghton Mifflin in 1925, Emilie moved to Wiggins, Mississippi to be closer to relatives and to pursue her writing career. During the height of the Depression, Emilie reprised the story of the Goose that lay the Golden Eggs.

Isabella, the Wise Goose became more than just a new folktale, however. Like all patriotic Americans, Isabella was drafted as part of the nation's war effort in October 1942. Once again, Emilie Stapp and her Penny Patriots went into action.

On October 28, 1942 the United States Treasury Department and the Holy Cathedral Book Club of Chicago sponsored an autographed book party. That night with such dignitaries as Carl Sandberg and Alvin C. York in attendance, a copy of Isabella the Goose sold for $800. Along with Isabella and other books, an original Lincoln letter and an autographed Kipling book sold to raise $283,000 in war bonds and stamps.

Soon after, Isabella was commissioned to sell war

bonds on her own and Isabella's Victory Flight was launched. From her small cottage in rural Mississippi, Emilie Stapp raised a total of $3,339,429 for the war effort.

In the closing of his Today's Magazine article, Frank Moorhead wrote, "There is so much good that can be done in the world; there are so many boys and girls to do good deeds if only they can think of them and see them. Emilie Stapp turned the natural juvenile longing for play into the channels of unselfish service to others...."

By Mary H. Hamilton, MLS
 

Contact:
The de Grummond Children's Literature Collection
Box 5148
Hattiesburg, MS 39406
(601) 266-4349
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