Bernard L. Karr Political Pinback Button Collection


Advertising is a common facet of modern life and it appears in various forms. From the billboard on the morning commute, the five second blurb before a YouTube video, to the commercial break during a podcast, advertising is an extremely powerful tool that is utilized by many entities. While frequently attempting to sell a product, ideas or movements are also regularly the basis of these messages, many of which are politically motivated.

Political advertising is the backbone of any campaign. Most strategies focus on video to relay messages, but pinback buttons are still major assets to would be candidates. Pinback buttons date as far back as the 19th century and are some of the oldest forms of political advertising. Thanks to Bernard L. Karr and his substantial donation of political pinback buttons to the Browne Popular Culture Library, we can see how pinback buttons are used in current political campaigns.

Scope and Content

The Bernard L. Karr Political Pinback Button Collection is comprised of hundreds of pinback buttons representing campaigns between 1976-2016, including every major Republican and Democratic presidential candidate. Consisting of six boxes, the buttons are organized chronologically by campaign year and are adhered to felt boards. Like candidates are grouped together to display differences in campaigns (greyed boxes indicate primary-winning candidate or ticket in the inventory below). This collection was used as the basis for an exhibit by Ty Liskai regarding presidential campaigns and popular culture. The finding aid was created by Brian Collins, Library Volunteer, and Dana Nemeth, Reference Archivist, in January 2020.


Box 1
1976, 1980, 1984, 1988

Board No. Date Candidate(s)
1 1976 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale
Gerald Ford/Bob Dole
Lloyd Bentsen
Ben Bubar/Earl Dodge
Fred Harris
George McGovern/Sargent Shriver (1972)
Ronald Reagan/Richard Schweiker
2 1980 Jimmy Carter/Walter Mondale
Ronald Reagan/George H. W. Bush
Gerald Ford
3 1984 Ronald Reagan/George H. W. Bush
4 1984 Walter Mondale/Geraldine Ferraro
Bob Dole
Gary Hart
Jesse Jackson
Richard Nixon/Spiro Agnew (1968 or 1972)
5 1988 George H. W. Bush/Dan Quayle
6 1988 Mike Dukakis/Lloyd Bentsen,
Jesse Jackson

Box 2

Board No. Candidate(s)
1 Ross Perot/James Stockdale
2 Bill Clinton/Al Gore
3 George H. W. Bush/Dan Quayle
Jerry Brown
Pat Buchanan
Tom Harkin
Bob Kerrey
Paul Tsongas
Douglas Wilder


Box 3

Board No. Candidate(s)
1 Bob Dole/Jack Kemp
Bob Dole/Colin Powell
Lamar Alexander
Earl Dodge/Rachel Kelley
Bob Dornan
Steve Forbes
Phil Gramm
Alan Keyes
Richard Lugar
Colin Powell
Dan Quayle
2 Bob Dole/Jack Kemp
3 Bill Clinton/Al Gore
4 Bill Clinton/Al Gore
Ross Perot/Pat Choate
Ralph Nader


Box 4

Board No. Candidate(s)
1 George W. Bush
Al Gore/Joe Lieberman
2 Al Gore/Joe Lieberman
Bill Bradley
3 Al Gore/Joe Lieberman
James Harris/Margaret Trowe
Dan Quayle
Paul Wellstone
4 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney
5 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney
Pat Buchanan/Ezola Foster
George W. Bush/Elizabeth Dole
Steve Forbes
John Kasich
John McCain
Ralph Nader

Box 5
2004, 2008

Board No. Date Candidate(s)
1 2004 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney
2 2004 George W. Bush/Dick Cheney
Wesley Clark
Howard Dean
Dick Gephardt
Gary Kucinich
Ralph Nader/Peter Camejo
Homer Simpson
3 2004 John Kerry/John Edwards
4 2008 Barak Obama/Joe Biden
Joe Biden
Hillary Clinton
Chris Dodd
John Edwards
Gary Kucinich
5 2008 John McCain/Sarah Palin
John Bowles/Ramsey
Rudy Giuliani
Mitt Romney
Fred Thompson

Box 6
2012, 2016

Board No. Date Candidate(s)
1 2012 Barak Obama/Joe Biden
2 2012 Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan
3 2012 Mitt Romney/Paul Ryan
Michele Bachmann
Herman Cain
Chris Christie
Mitch Daniels
Newt Gingrich
Sarah Palin
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Rick Santorum
4 2016 Hillary Clinton
Donald Trump
Bernie Sanders
5 2016 Joe Biden
Jeb Bush
Ben Carson
Chris Christie
Ted Cruz
Carly Fiorina
John Kasich
Rand Paul
Rick Perry
Marco Rubio

Updated: 06/05/2023 09:24AM