As Americans settle in to watch the two major party nominating conventions this week and next, have you ever wondered what political conventions were like before the days of the Web, television, or even the telegraph?
The Humanities and Social Sciences division at the Library of Congress has provided timely summaries of the Democratic and Republican national conventions dating back to 1832 and 1856, respectively. (As I write this, it is labeled “New” on the page of the Library’s Main Reading Room.)
As of today, staff have completed summaries for all the Democratic conventions and expect to complete the remaining Republican summaries in the next couple of days.
In a related vein, Microsoft is using historical content from the Library of Congress in new technology being showcased at both conventions:
Microsoft is also introducing Surface, a combination of hardware and software in a 30-inch tabletop device with a touch interface. [...] It will [...] provide information and images from past conventions that has been made available by the Library of Congress [...] .
I saw a video demonstration of the tables, and they look pretty nifty. You can pull up a map of the United States and touch on the cities where past conventions have been held. Then you can manipulate digital assets from each convention such as photos, text and videos, splaying them before you a la Tom Cruise in “Minority Report.”