The internet hasn’t been working at my house, so I apologize for the late post. Last week, I went to the It Happens Every Four Years: U.S. Presidential Election Campaigns from the Archives of Public Affairs and Policy exhibit at the University at Albany. Located on the third floor of the Science Library, the ME Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is a bright and quiet spot on the busy UAlbany campus.
The exhibit highlights memorabilia from past presidential elections. One of my favorite pieces was “The 1940 Elections: How People Can Win” by Earl Browder. This was a fascinating pamphlet put out by the Communist Party of the United States. The exhibit also included National Republican Convention Programs, one dating back to June 16, 1896 (it was held in St. Louis).
There was also information on presidential visits to UAlbany. Bill Clinton was the first sitting president to visit the campus in 1994. His intent was to gain support for the re-election of Governor Mario Cuomo (Governor Andrew Cuomo’s dad in case you didn’t know). Mario Cuomo was defeated by George Pataki that year. Although he wasn’t president at the time, Grover Cleveland attended the mid-year closing exercise of the State Normal School in 1885. In 1968, Governor Nelson Rockefeller campaigned outside of the campus center. He later became Vice President under President Gerald Ford.
The exhibit featured a lot of interesting campaign publicity. Buttons were the traditional choice, but as this exhibit showed, a lot of wacky things soon became the norm for presidential elections. Rulers, stickers, and balloons were all used to get the word out about presidential candidates. I especially enjoyed an apron that supported Romney (George Romney, not Mitt) and the record “Rockin for Rocky” put out by Nelson Rockefeller.
Since this year is a presidential election year, this exhibit is definitely worth checking out. You gain a better perspective on the history of presidential campaigns and all of the work that goes into one. The ME Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives is open Monday through Friday from 9am to 5pm. If you’d like to know more about the exhibit, please visit their website http://liblogs.albany.edu/grenander/2012/02/it_happens_every_four_years.html.