Political Conventions Throughout History

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In a related vein, Microsoft is using historical content from the Library of Congress in new technology being showcased at both conventions: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.”

3 Comments

  1. LizClare
    August 26, 2008 at 10:28 pm

    Wow, I have to say this sounds pretty nifty and futuristic the way you describe it. A great 3-D way to touch history.

  2. Vega Vaughn
    August 31, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    One of my friends work for a company that Microsoft outsources to and he showed me some of Microsoft Live Lab stuff. There is a program called “Sea Dragon” thats going to be amazing. He also showed me a video of him playing on a coffee table with surface on it. I can’t wait til this stuff is available to the public. It’s great software.

  3. jordanshoes
    September 12, 2008 at 1:55 am

    Wow, I have to say this sounds pretty nifty and futuristic the way you describe it. A great 3-D way to touch history.

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