Sunbeams Button

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Description (Brief)
Round button with an image of a yellow and red sun rising over a blue ocean-like horizon. White text on the blue horizon reads “Sunbeams.” A red, white, and blue plastic ribbon is attached to the pin. Blue text on the white portion reads “Volunteer.”
Sunbeams were an offshoot of the Salvation Army’s Life-Saving Girl Guards that was specifically targeted for younger girls (approximately ages six to eleven). The first Girl Guard group appeared in London in 1915. This initial troop of Girl Guards learned homemaking and outdoor living skills such as cooking and camping. The Salvation Army was a major organization in fundraising for the war effort and doing relief work during World War I, and it is well known for serving fresh doughnuts to American soldiers on the front lines during the war. Today the Salvation Army still has Girl Guards and Sunbeams around the world. Both groups focus on spiritual, social, mental, and physical growth through a variety of activities such as camps, field trips, and service projects.
Much like the use of military insignia to identify its wearer (by association with an organization) and his/her achievements, these pins and buttons were meant to be worn by Americans on the home front during World War I to show their membership in an organization and/or their contribution to a particular war effort, such as the United War Work Campaign. The pins and buttons displayed the wearer’s patriotism and generosity and undoubtedly also served to prompt others to become similarly involved in the various war efforts.
“Girl Guards and Sunbeams,” The Salvation Army,
Currently not on view
date made
Physical Description
cellulose nitrate (overall material)
overall: 4.8 cm x 1.5 cm; 1 7/8 in x 9/16 in
overall: 1 7/8 in x 1 3/16 in x 3/16 in; 4.7625 cm x 3.01625 cm x .47625 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
related event
World War I
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Chemistry
Clothing & Accessories
World War I Pins & Buttons
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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