The use of buttons in political campaigning has a long and rich history displayed here in the collections from Gettysburg resident Lawrence P. Taylor and Gettysburg College political science professor Dr. Ken Mott. Now retired, Taylor was a career diplomat with the U.S. Department of State and served as Director of the Foreign Service Institute and U.S. Ambassador to Estonia from 1995 to 1997. Taylor is also a founding partner of The Gettysburg Leadership Experience at Gettysburg College. Dr. Mott serves as an advisor to the Gettysburg College student Democrat and Republican organizations.
The origins of the modern political button can be traced back to 1896, during the presidential campaigns of Democrat William Jennings Bryan and Republican William McKinley. Since then, the buttons have provided a unique way that voters can show their support for a political candidate. The buttons displayed here show the varied and diverse ways that political candidates have been represented, either simply by their name or through the use of short, clever slogans. Some of the buttons also represent early forms of negative campaigning as they are used to criticize a political opponent.
In addition to the political buttons, two tickets to the June 1932 Democratic National Convention in Chicago (from Taylor’s father) are displayed.