Division of Political History
The Division of Political History is dedicated to the study of American democracy and the material culture that has shaped its history. The division gives particular attention to the political principles, practices, and institutions that have shaped the political culture of the United States. The division focuses on political relationships between groups and interests; institutions of government; and changing practices of representative and participatory democracy in a nation of diverse people and cultures. The division is especially interested in changing definitions of citizenship and political rights; contested political ideologies; governmental policies and their impact; the role of political parties; elections; protest and reform movements; varied and changing expressions of nationalism; predictive opinion and media effects; and traditional political techniques and forms of communication. For areas of specialization, please see the staff listing below, and the collections link.
The collections document the history of American democracy and the nation’s political culture from colonial settlements to the present. The collection is divided into three major areas. The political campaign collection is the largest holding of presidential campaign material in the United States and includes banners, signs, campaign ephemera, novelties, documents, photographs, voter registration material, ballots, and voting machines.