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Political Buttons

Glimpse U.S. history through Harvard's collection of political buttons featuring candidate campaigns, political demonstrations, and social movements.

This collection provides online access to images of over 1,500 political buttons, giving scholars a window into 20th- and 21st- century politics, electioneering, political Americana, and social, political, and cultural issues and movements through political ephemera.

Political button with an image of JFK and the text "Kennedy for President"
Kennedy for President, 1960
Harvard Kennedy School Library & Knowledge Services

Notably, the collection includes:

  • Buttons representing state, local, and national U.S. political campaigns
  • Presidential campaign buttons from Calvin Coolidge to Hillary Clinton
  • Buttons pertaining to significant ballot initiatives, social issues and movements, and political demonstrations.

The collection was established in 2012, when local philanthropist Steven M. Rothstein donated his family’s personal collection of 2,000 political buttons. The collection continues to grow through donations from individuals and contemporary candidates for political office.

View the Buttons

Accessing These Materials

Items in this collection are available online.


HKS Library and Knowledge Services