Election 2012!

Harding supporter selling buttons for the 1920 campaign, via Ohio Memory.

Now that the 2012 election season has wrapped up, we wanted to take a look back at some of the historical campaign and election materials featured in our Ohio Memory collections. While these earlier presidential elections may not have had the ubiquitous political TV ads that our state has grown so used to over the past few months, that doesn’t mean that they were any less contested as the two candidates battled for the highest office in the land.

William Taft in Sandusky, Ohio, during his 1908 presidential campaign, courtesy of the Sandusky Library/Follett House Museum via Ohio Memory.
McKinley 1896 campaign poster, with the themes of “Prosperity,” “Prestige,” “Commerce,” and “Civilization” displayed prominently, via Ohio Memory.

As we all know, Ohio has always been an important player in national elections because of our electoral college votes, and our designation as a swing state. 100 years ago, for the election of 1912, we actually had 24 votes toward the electoral college, and we reached a peak in the 1930s and again around the 1970s with 26 votes. Due to relative population loss over the past few decades, we have lost a bit of our clout–but anyone who lives in the state during an election season can tell you we’re still considered a major player! The photograph of soon-to-be-President Taft, above, shows how candidates have long made Ohio an important stop on their campaign trail.

You may be familiar with the yard signs and bumper stickers that are so popular today, but Ohio Memory also has a great selection of campaign posters, like the 1896 version at right for candidate William McKinley. You can also view posters for other historical candidates for president including James Cox and Franklin Roosevelt (1920), Ohio native Taft and his VP James Sherman (1908), Hubert Humphrey and Edmund Muskie (1968), Ulysses S. Grant and Schuyler Colfax (1868), Rutherford B. Hayes (1876), among others.

Campaign memorabilia also ran the gamut to the not-so-traditional, as seen in the images below…

William Henry Harrison snuffbox, 1840, held at the Ohio Historical Society.
William McKinley campaign umbrella, 1896, courtesy of the Flesh Public Library and Museum via Ohio Memory.
Beanie in support of Warren G. Harding, 1920, courtesy of the Marion County Historical Society via Ohio Memory.

Explore Ohio Memory to see an 1888 campaign handkerchief, an 1896 pocket mirror featuring the McKinley House in Canton, a symbolic gold bug, also from McKinley’s campaign, sheet music, scarves and much more!


Thanks to Lily Birkhimer, Digital Projects Coordinator at the Ohio History Connection, for this week’s post!

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