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Political campaigns button collection

Identifier: C0338

Scope and Content

114 buttons and one scarf made to advertise American political campaigns, created from circa 1956 - 1992. Some of the campaigns included are:

- Stevenson-Kefauver presidential campaign (1956)

- Kennedy-Johnson presidential campaign (1960)

- Nixon-Lodge presidential campaign (1960)

- Goldwater-Miller presidential campaign (1964)

- McGovern-Shriver presidential campaign (1972)

- Clinton-Gore presidential campaign (1992)

Other buttons include "Pat for First Lady," GOP and Republican Party-themed buttons, and buttons promoting Democratic Missouri Senator Jim Symington. A few of the buttons are in foreign languages, included Hebrew and Greek. The included scarf was created for Eugene McCarthy's 1968 presidential campaign.


  • circa 1956 - 1992

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions.

Use Restrictions

The copyright and related rights status of this collection have not been evaluated (See

Historical Information

Political buttons have been used in the United States since Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign in 1860. The mass produced election campaign buttons we know today were first created in 1896 for the presidential race between William McKinley and William Jennings Bryan. That very year a patent for a pin-back/celluloid front button design allowed for the mass production. Political buttons, whether to support a political candidate, cause, or party, are still used today.


0.25 Linear Feet (114 buttons, one scarf; 115 items total)

Language of Materials



114 buttons and one scarf made to advertise American political campaigns, created from circa 1956 - 1992.


This is a single box collection.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

Most of the buttons were designed with the needle protruding off to the side. Care needed when handling.

Physical Location

R 72, C 4, S 1

Acquisition Information

Donated by Lynn Spencer in November 2019.

Related Materials

The Special Collections Research Center holds other collections that contain political buttons, including the American Political Items Collectors collection and the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area records.

Harvard University, Stony Brook University, Vanderbilt University, University of South Carolina, and Yale University all hold political buttons collections.


King, Elizabeth. "The Long Story Behind Presidential Campaign Buttons and Pins[.]" Time Magazine, May 17, 2016.

Moenster, Kathleen. "Political Campaign Buttons[.]" National Park Service, Febraury 8, 2019.,tintype%20or%20ferrotype%20photo%20process.

Processing Information

Processing and finding aid completed by Amanda Menjivar in March 2023.

Guide to Political campaigns button collection
Political campaigns button collection
Amanda Menjivar
March 24, 2023
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the George Mason University. Libraries. Special Collections Research Center Repository

Fenwick Library, MS2FL
4400 University Dr.
Fairfax Virginia 22030 United States
703-993-8911 (Fax)