Using historical documents
and memorabilia such as letters, buttons, books, ribbons, banners, medals,
cartoons, and music, curators Hal Williams and Hervey Priddy explore
significant themes in presidential campaigns over the past 215 years.
Though based on Bridwell's own holdings, the exhibition also features
items on loan from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington,
D.C., the Museum of American Political Life at the
University of Hartford, the DeGolyer Library at SMU,
the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, and several private
collectors in the area.
All the items are grouped
in chronological order. Walking through the exhibit, visitors will
see that American presidential elections
by historians into five major party periods. In each period, campaign
innovations helped make the difference between victory and defeat.
Other periods were marked by high voter turnout and a great deal of
theater. Some of the rarest items include personal correspondence by
American Presidents Andrew Jackson, Abraham
Lincoln, and John F. Kennedy.
Both the serious and the trivial are represented, including Warren
G. Harding beanie caps and Harry Truman comic books. Art lovers will
the presidential portraits of Abraham Lincoln by Frank C. Courter and
George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.
A variety of events are planned
in conjunction with the exhibit, including a lecture series, a film
festival, an election watch, and voter
The exhibit "From George to George" will run
from Sept. 10, 2004 to Jan. 20, 2005. Admission is free and the hours
are as follows: M-F 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.
In 2001 Southern Methodist
University's Bridwell Library acquired the Hervey A. Priddy
Collection of American Presidential and Political Memorabilia.
A private collector, Priddy has been collecting 19th- and 20th-century
political memorabilia such as buttons, ribbons, pins, posters, leaflets,
banners, textiles, ceramics, toys and commemoratives. Over the years
his collection grew in size and value, so much so that he began looking
for a museum to house it. That's when Bridwell's Director Valerie Hotchkiss
approached him with the idea of giving it to Bridwell Library. Although
the Bridwell Library specializes in rare books and manuscripts, it also
has a wide array of American artifacts. Furthermore, SMU turned out
to be a natural choice since Priddy had received his master's degree
in history there.
With the acquisition of
the Priddy Collection, the Library decided to mount an exhibit that
would coincide with the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election. "From
George to George: Presidential Elections in the United States from 1789
to the Present" was organized by James McMillin, Bridwell
associate director and an American historian in his own right, who invited
SMU History Professor Hal Williams,
an expert on American presidents, and Priddy, a specialist in American
history, to curate the exhibit. In addition to Bridwell's holdings,
the exhibit showcases items on loan from the Museum of American
Political Life at the University of Hartford, the Smithsonian
Institution in Washington, D.C., the Amon Carter Museum
in Fort Worth, the Fondren Library at SMU, the Harlan
Crow Library in Dallas, and the private collection of H.