The exhibition examines a wide spectrum of presidential campaign artifacts dating back to the late 18th century. In an age saturated with electronic and print media, we easily lose sight of the central role that banners, badges, mugs, plates, bandannas and countless other sorts of ephemera have played as vehicles for signifying political loyalties and inspiring voter support. Guided by interpretive texts, visitors will see the development of favored presidential mythologies, the introduction of new forms of persuasion, and the changing campaign issues that voters have faced during the past two hundred years. Objects will be drawn primarily from Historical Society collections. Exhibition materials will include broadsides and sheet music from the New-York Historical Society Library; posters from the Department of Prints, Photographs & Architecture; and a wide variety of campaign memorabilia from the Historical Society's Museum, including lapel buttons, parade lanterns, ribbons, flags, banners and miscellaneous objects such as a log cabin whiskey bottle, necktie, thimble, textiles and tee-shirts bearing slogans. New media will be exploited extensively to underline the burgeoning use of radio, television and the Internet in presidential campaigns during the past seventy years.
CAMPAIGNS ON COTTON
A special component, Campaigns on Cotton will explore the phenomenon of political textiles with a display of approximately seventy-five examples drawn from the Society's premier collection, supplemented by several loans from the Yale University Art Gallery and private collections. Organized into five sections, Campaigns on Cotton will proceed chronologically, charting presidential campaigns from 1789 to 2004, while exploring the changing uses of kerchiefs to promote candidates and their causes. Examples range from a rare pre-presidential one promoting George Washington, to one commissioned recently touting the campaign of George W. Bush.
The New-York Historical Society will mark the occasion of the upcoming November elections with a small exhibition that surveys the history of American presidential elections through the lens of campaign ephemera and other items of material culture. A wide spectrum of 19th and 20th century presidential campaign memorabilia from New-York Historical's Museum will be displayed, including lapel buttons, parade lanterns, ribbons, flags, banners, whiskey bottles, neckties, thimbles, handkerchiefs and bandanas, board games, hats worn by the candidates and a dress worn by an Eisenhower supporter in 1956. These provocative objects illustrate the many forms of political persuasion that have been used over the past two centuries and reveal much about the nation's changing election issues, prevailing political decorum, and the characteristics that Americans value in their leaders. In our age, saturated with electronic and print media, it is easy to lose sight of the central role that these large and small campaign materials played as vehicles for signifying political loyalties and inspiring voter support.