Path to the Presidency: Catching the Voter’s Eye

The Poster Craze in Candidateville

As we head toward the final weeks before the election there are more signs on the trees and on the road dividers, more people wearing campaign buttons and stickers and handing out campaign literature. It can be overwhelming to see all the campaign literature.

Campaign posters, buttons and other ephemera are not new. Prior to the advent of radio, television and the internet, candidates used campaign signs, buttons, ribbons, light shades and banners to reach out to voters who might not have been able to come to a speech or access a newspaper. The Library of Congress has made many of these unique artifacts available online.

Activate prior knowledge by asking students what they know about campaign buttons. Show students the Lincoln-Johnson Campaign button. Have them use the analysis tool to record their observations and thoughts about the button. They might repeat the process with the publication supporting “P. O’Malley” for mayor. Which do they think would have more effective at gaining voter support?

Lincoln-Johnson Campaign Button

P. O’Malley; Candidate for Mayor

Have them consider what makes a campaign poster, button, ribbon or other kind of election ephemera successful.

Let them compare campaign buttons and other materials from elections from the past and present. Do they think the materials from the past would be successful today? Why or why not

Students can create posters or buttons either for an upcoming school election or for an election happening in their community.

What other kinds of campaign ephemera would students create if they could not use television, radio or the internet to encourage people to vote?

The Prints and Photographs Division has a slide show of presidential campaign posters.

How much do your students think that campaign posters, buttons and other ephemera can help encourage voter turnout or sway a voter’s opinion? Provide some of your students’ responses in the comments.

2 Comments

  1. sweet potatoe tiger fourteen
    October 9, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    Es muy relativo, depende de factores tanto culturales, sociologicos, psicologicos , o del arte del convencimiento, usando imagenes impactantes,etc.
    las campaƱas politicas son mas favorables para aquel que solo critica al gobernante, y nunca hizo, ni va a hacer nada de lo que le ha prometido a su poblacion, como digo depende del grado de convencimiento de llegar a la poblacion, o del grado de madures o de raciocinio del que no desea ser engaƱado. pero algo es muy importante. quizas sea mas propicio preguntarles a aquellos que manipulan la informacion de los medios. ellos pueden decir que godzilla apareceria y nos pisaria a todos debido a un experimento del adn de un saurio,, seguramente la gente lo creeria hoy .. aunque desde mi perspectiva eso no tiene nada de ficcion , solo hay que buscar el adn real y clonarlo.. y si me hablan de inteligencias foraneas a nuestro planeta , pues puede que algunos lo crean y otros no.. solo diganme uds, quien es mas tonto que quien, el que cree o el que no lo cree?

  2. Carol LaVallee
    October 16, 2012 at 1:05 pm

    What a great time to read this blog. Would you beleive me if I told you next week I am teaching this exact concept! You resources are out of this world. Thanks for putting it together for me!

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