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Student-curated online exhibit explores West Virginia political memorabilia

Posted by Monte Maxwell.
October 27th, 2020
State Chairman pin for the 1964 Republican National Convention held in San Francisco.

Elections are a foundation of American democracy, and the act of campaigning for public office is nearly as old as the Republic itself. In this election year, the West Virginia & Regional History Center is highlighting campaign materials from West Virginia politicians in a new digital exhibit, Vote for Me: West Virginia Political Memorabilia .

Elections and campaigns have changed over the centuries, and the 2020 campaign season has looked like none before. As Americans decide on the future, this exhibit explores some of West Virginia’s political past, the contributions of West Virginia politicians, as well as the history of campaign materials.

The exhibit, curated by WVRHC graduate assistants Meredith Dreistadt, Crystal Coon, and Hannah McCoy, features political memorabilia from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, including buttons, posters, stickers, and other campaign literature. Items come from the campaigns of Senators Jay Rockefeller, Harley Kilgore, Matthew Mansfield Neely, Robert C. Byrd, and Jennings Randolph; Congressmen Arch Moore and Alan Mollohan; and Governors William Wallace “Wally” Barron, Okey Patteson, and Cecil Underwood. Additional items will be added periodically.

Poster for Jay Rockefeller’s first campaign for U.S. Senator in 1984. He was successfully elected and re-elected four times before retiring in 2015.
Button from Okey Patteson’s gubernatorial campaign in 1948. He won the election and became West Virginia’s 23rd governor.

Other digital exhibits about politics and policy available from the WVRHC include The People’s Branch: Exploring the U.S. Congress in the Archives and For the Dignity of Man and the Destiny of Democracy: The Voting Rights Act of 1965

For more information contact WVRHC Assistant Curator and Congressional and Political Papers Archivist Danielle Emerling at 304-293-2574.

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