Every few years, there are new elections and new candidates running for national, state, and local offices, and every few years citizens are met with campaign advertisements in a variety of formats.
But how have political campaigns changed or stayed the same over the years? What about the materials produced during these campaigns? We are all familiar with the campaign ads on TV, and we’ve seen the campaign lawn signs in front of neighbors’ houses supporting a chosen candidate. But how have the signs, campaign buttons, T-Shirts, and other ephemera been used by candidates over the years?
Whether you are working on a project for a history class or are interested in learning more about political campaigns and the people and materials behind them, there are resources in archives and libraries ready to help you explore these questions and others.
Several recently processed collections at UBalt Special Collections & Archives include a number of political campaign signs, T-shirts, and campaign buttons, among other political campaign ephemera. Other collections in the archives also include information related to political campaigns that researchers may find useful. Diving into these primary sources will give interested researchers a chance to learn more about the materials used to promote local Baltimore, state, and national candidates running for office.
The recently processed David H. Hugel Papers contain a variety of materials and memorabilia related to events and topics throughout the 20th century. In particular, the Political Campaign Files series and the Political Campaigns, U.S. Presidents, Governors, and Government subseries within the Memorabilia series document Mr. Hugel’s work on several state and national political campaigns, including the Nixon and Agnew presidential campaign of 1968. Mr. Hugel also collected political campaign signs and political buttons related to Republican party candidates and campaigns over the years. These materials could provide researchers with a glimpse into the materials used in large campaigns of past years.
The Bill Marker Political Campaign Collection, another recently processed collection, primarily includes collected 118 campaign posters and signs related to Democratic party candidates, voting signs, and 21 political t-shirts related to Baltimore City elections, Maryland state elections, and national elections and politics. Mr. Marker is a lawyer, local politician and long-time resident of Baltimore’s Pigtown neighborhood. In addition to endorsing Democratic candidates in their campaigns, Mr. Marker has also been a candidate for local political office. The posters, campaign signs, and T-shirts in this collection document elections between 1976 and 2020, and researchers might find them to be an interesting source showing how campaign advertising methods and materials have changed over time.
Additional collections at UBalt Special Collections & Archives related to political campaigns and politics include (but are not limited to):
- Frank Lidinsky Political Campaign Collection
- Jo-Ann Orlinsky Political Campaign Collection
- Helen Delich Bentley Papers
- Thomas J. D’Alesandro, Jr. Papers
- Find these and others in our collections database
Below are a few other resources from RLB Library and other websites that can be used to learn about political campaigns.
Please note you need a UBalt account to access databases and other resources.
- Baltimore Sun (Historical) Newspaper database
- Baltimore Afro-American Newspapers (Historical) database
- The Library’s History LibGuide
- Don’t forget to search the Library’s online catalog for books, articles, and more
- ArchiveGrid a database where you can search for archival collections located worldwide
Other websites and resources:
- The Campaigns That Made History from history.com
- The Origins of Modern Campaigning from the See How They Ran! FDR and His Opponents: Campaign Treasures from the New-York Historical Society digital exhibition
- 5b. Campaigns and Elections from ushistory.org/gov/
- How political campaigning has changed throughout US history from stacker.com/