NRA Buttons

A key element of FDR’s economic revival plan during his First 100 Days in office was the National Industrial Recovery Administration (NRA).

The NRA sought to end cut-throat competition that was reducing wages and prices to disastrous levels. It encouraged businesses in hundreds of industries to create codes of “fair competition.” The codes set maximum hours and minimum wages, guaranteed union rights, and prohibited child labor. Companies adopting the codes were exempt from anti-trust laws.

Participating businesses proudly displayed the NRA’s blue eagle symbol—with the slogan “We Do Our Part”—on their products. At some companies employees and even customers wore NRA buttons, like the fifteen displayed above, to proclaim their participation in the program and show their support.

The NRA was also promoted in parades and rallies that became community events. These activities gave Americans a psychological lift, but the NRA proved ineffective. Its codes were unwieldy and, sometimes, ludicrous—including regulations for industries like shoulder pads, dog food, and burlesque theaters. Many codes favored larger businesses and encouraged monopolistic practices that hindered economic recovery. Few mourned when the NRA was declared unconstitutional in 1935.