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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Election Memorabilia and Political Firsts

As we get closer and closer to the 2016 presidential elections - signs, shirts, and stickers bearing candidates’ names will multiply. Showing your political affiliation is by no means a new practice.  The first campaign buttons with photos were of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. However, the first mass-produced wouldn’t appear till the end of the century. These metal buttons were for McKinley during the 1896 presidential election, like the one shown below.  McKinley was also innovative in other ways. He was the first president to campaign using the telephone. 

      Presidential campaign button, 1894, Gift of Jean Chamberlain, 1984.077.031

These strategies must have helped – McKinley won and issued buttons (below) again during the 1900 election, like those shown below.  He was re-elected.  Unfortunately, he was assassinated shortly after he began his second term. He was succeeded by his Vice President, also featured on buttons below, Teddy Roosevelt.

    Presidential campaign buttons, 1900, Gift of Jean Chamberlain, 1984.077.029 & 1984.077.030

People have found other ways to support the candidate of their choice.  One of the most creative pieces of campaign memorabilia in the Goldstein’s collection is this 1968 ensemble (below) made from silk campaign scarves in support of Hubert Humphrey.  

1       Silk dress and hat, 1968, Gift of Muriel Humphrey Brown, 1987.028.008a-b

Humphrey served as the 38th Vice President alongside Lyndon B. Johnson.  He went on to run for president in 1968, but lost to Richard Nixon.  The ensemble was donated by the wife of the former Vice President, Muriel Humphrey Brown.  Interestingly, she went to have her own brief political career. When her husband passed away in 1978, she took his place as a Minnesota senator – making Humphrey Brown the first wife of a Vice President to hold office.