Political buttons

Political buttons

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Hargrett Library
Creator: Unknown
Title: Political buttons
Dates: 1900-1999
Quantity: 0.2 Linear feet
Coll. Number: ms2617

Biographical/Historical Note

The modern political campaign button was born in 1896 when supporters of presidential candidate William McKinley wore his portrait on buttons promising a "full dinner pail." Today campaign buttons are mostly collectors' items because the high cost of political advertising on television leaves little money for manufactured campaign artifacts. Voters continue to expect buttons, bumper stickers, and other campaign paraphernalia, however, and private vendors help to supply the demand for what parties and candidates can no longer afford. Among them is Nelson Whitman, president of Capitol Stamp and Coin Company in Washington, D.C., who said that parties now hand out buttons only in return for donations. Americans since George Washington's time have decorated their lapels with printed political statements. But in the early days the items were made of cloth, and most commemorated sitting presidents or events such as the inauguration rather than political campaigns. A forerunner of the McKinley-type button appeared in 1840, when William Henry Harrison and John Tyler won the White House with the campaign slogan "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too." Harrison's buttons were coin-like tokens that could be worn in a buttonhole. By the 1860s, with the invention of photography, black-and-white portraits were added to these metal plate tokens, which were then called "ferrotypes." Within a few elections, photos were commonly being mounted on cardboard or paper that could be pinned to the wearer's clothing. CQ Press Encyclopedia of American Government. (http://library.cqpress.com/eag/elaz2d-156-7504-403147) Retrieved 7/9/2009.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of a box of political buttons with various slogans.


Arranged by campaign.

Index Terms

Buttons (information artifacts)
United States--Politics and government--20th century.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation note

Political buttons, ms2617, Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, The University of Georgia Libraries.

Series Descriptions and Folder Listing