The Political Buttons at HKS Collection features 1,600+ buttons that represent U.S. political history from 1904 through today. It includes buttons on candidates, ballot initiatives, social issues, grassroots movements, and more.
Since 2012, a record number of individuals from underrepresented groups have run for U.S. political office. This exhibit features buttons from recent candidates who are women, people of color, Native American, and LGBTQ+.
The U.S. has a rich history of political activism, long represented through buttons. The buttons in this exhibit highlight social issues from the 1960s through today.
LRS established the Political Buttons at HKS Collection in 2012, when local philanthropist Steven M. Rothstein donated his family’s personal button collection to HKS. Mr. Rothstein was an accomplished nonprofit administrator, leading Citizen Schools and the Perkins School for the Blind before becoming the Executive Director of the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation.
In 2018, LRS began expanding Mr. Rothstein’s collection during each election cycle. We now contact the campaign teams of every candidate running for congressional and presidential office, offering the chance to memorialize their efforts in our library. Our contemporary candidate buttons encompass all political parties and levels of office.
We hope educators will use the collection to make U.S. political history more tangible. We also hope researchers will use the collection to enhance scholarship around U.S. politics, electioneering, Americana, and social movements.
If you have questions about the collection or would like to donate buttons, contact Corinne Wolfson, Digital Collections Librarian. Please do not send button donations without first consulting with LRS staff.