Collections Carousel: Harleigh Swanson’s Lions Club Pin Collection

Recently, Little Falls Lions Club members donated a number of documents and artifacts from the Little Falls Lions Club, #2857. Among the documents and artifacts were two large glass cases of Lions Club pins collected by Harleigh Swanson, a lifetime member of the Little Falls Lions Club and a recipient of the Melvin Jones Fellowship.

The pin collection consists of approximately 300 brightly colored lapel pins donated to the Lions Club by Harleigh’s daughter Dionne (Swanson) Wenner in memory of her dad. He was involved with the Mid Winter Convention Hospitality Room each year and met other Lions from all parts of the US and Canada. Collecting and trading the pins was a tradition of friendship that was something he enjoyed, according to his obituary. They are works of art and a  delight to look at; they offer a view into Harleigh’s service with the Little Falls Lions Club.

Melvin Jones, a Chicago business leader, established the Association of Lions Clubs in 1917 with the goal of better serving communities. By 1920, the Lions Club expanded internationally with a chapter in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. The Lions Club continued to grow nationally and internationally and today there are more than 1.4 million members in 200 hundred countries worldwide (Lions Club International 2024).

Only five years after Melvin Jones established the Lions Club, the Little Falls Lions Club was chartered. According to Karleen Schmiedt, 2023-2024 president of the Little Falls Lions Club; “On January 30th 1922, a group of twenty-five business and professional men from Little Falls Minnesota signed a charter to establish the Little Falls Lions Club. As a result, Little Falls Lions is one of the oldest chartered Lions Clubs in Minnesota and continues to be an important organization in Little Falls” (2022).

Armed with the motto “We Serve”, Lions Clubs around the world do just that! Vision and hearing screenings, diabetes screenings, and youth outreach are just a few of the many services and programs provided by Lions Clubs internationally. Locally, the Little Falls Lions Club programs strongly embrace the Lions Club International Five Pillars of Service: Vision, Hunger, Diabetes, Cancer, and Environment. The Little Falls Lions Club also donates to other charities and causes (Schmiedt 2022).

Harleigh Swanson’s Lions Club pin collection is will be on display in our library beginning on Wednesday, February 14th, 2024 through May, 2024. All are welcome to come and view this spectacular collection.

Harleigh Swanson’s Pin Collection, MCHS Collections

Special thanks to Karleen Schmiedt for her help in editing this article.


A Brief History of Lions Clubs International. 2024. Lions Clubs International. Oak Brook, IL.

Schmiedt, Karleen, 2022. Little Falls Lions Club Celebrates Its 100th Anniversary, 1922-2022.

Schmiedt, Karleen 2022. Little Falls Lions 100th Anniversary, 1922-2022.

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