Vol. XXV November 2007         Published by the Ontario County Historian *******************************************************************************

            As the busy holidays come upon us, take some time to enjoy one of these great celebrations of our history and culture.  You’ll be glad you did!    




Jul 7-Dec 29:  "From Steamboat Landing to State Park: Public Access in the Finger Lakes." Exhibit at Geneva Historical Soc., 543 S. Main St., Geneva.  Free.


This exhibit is part of a six-museum collaborative project entitled summer in the Finger Lakes that examines the history of summertime leisure on Canandaigua, Cayuga, Keuka,
Owasco, and Seneca Lakes.  Each museum is hosting an exhibit that addresses a different aspect of summer in the Finger Lakes. The other five exhibits are: "From Sacred to Stereotype and Back Again: Tourist Presentations of Native Americans in the Finger Lakes" at the Cayuga Museum of History and Art in Auburn; "From Toddler to Teenager: Growing Up on Vacation" at the Chemung Valley History Museum in Elmira; "From Lifeguard to Wine Pourer: Summer Work in the Finger Lakes" at The History Center in Tompkins County in Ithaca; "From Camp to Cottage: Finger Lakes Summer Homes" at The Ontario County Historical Society in Canandaigua; and "From Lake Trout to Grape Pie: Summer Food in the Finger Lakes" at the Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society in Penn Yan.


For more information about this exhibit or project, call the Geneva Historical Society office at 315-789-5151 or visit the project website at:



Aug 1-Fall:  Phelps Historical Society “Harvest Food, Festivals and Fun” exhibit at Howe House museum, 66 Main St., Phelps.  Free and all welcome.


Mount Hope Cemetery tours by the Friends of Mount Hope Cemetery.  1133 Mt. Hope Avenue. Rochester, NY 14620. Call (585) 461-3494 for more information or visit the website:  <www.fomh.org>

Free Guided Walking Tours of Mount Hope Cemetery.  May through October.  Saturdays at 1pm; Sundays at 2:00 PM & 2:30 PM.  Tours begin at the north cemetery gatehouse, 791 Mount Hope Avenue (opposite Robinson Drive).  Learn about Mount Hope’s historic "residents," interesting geology, art & sculpture, and more.  A free reception with lemonade and cookies follows each tour.

Twilight Tours:  $4/person · Free for members of the Friends of Mount Hope

Special Theme Tours

$4/person · Free for members of the Friends of Mount Hope.  Check tour descriptions for location. Tours last approximately two hours, followed by free lemonade and cookies.

Nov 14:  Third book discussion with Henry Maus.  Sponsored by Ontario Co. Historical Soc. and Wood Library in Canandaigua.  At the library.  Call (585) 394-4975 for information.

Nov 15:  East Bloomfield Historical Soc. annual meeting.  6:30 PM cocktails.  7:00 PM dinner.  At Cheap Charlies, Bloomfield.  Program, "The Development and Ranking of Atlantic Hurricanes."

Nov 15:  Ontario County Historical Soc. annual meeting.  Details mailed to all members.

Nov 15:  Rochester Genealogical Soc. meeting at Asbury First United Methodist Church, East Ave., Rochester.  7:00 PM.  Main program, “If Your House Could Talk, What Story Would it Tell?” presented by Rick Porter.  He will explore the process of researching the history of houses.  He has worked as a house historian for Genesee Country Village.  Visit the RGS website at: <http://www.rootsweb.com/~nyrgs/>

Nov 16:  Ontario County Historical Soc. "Mapping Ontario County" exhibit opens. At the OCHS museum.  55 N. Main St.  Canandaigua.

Nov 20:  Town of Gorham Historical Soc. business and work meeting.  7:00 PM.  At the museum in Gorham.

Nov 20:  Honeoye Area Historical Soc. Meeting and program by John Champlain, “Local Native American Artifacts.”  At the Masonic Temple building.  West Lake Rd.  Honeoye.  7:30 PM.

Dec 1:  East Bloomfield Historical Soc. annual Christmas party and auction.  At the Academy opposite Elton Park in the Village.  6:30-10:00 PM.


Early American Political Campaign "Buttons," Tokens and Ribbons


            2008 is a presidential campaign year.  Already, millions of dollars are being spent on television coverage, newspaper advertising, targeted direct mailings, and Internet contacts.  We don't see as many political campaign buttons (or other trinkets) as we used to see.  However, they still surround us, as they have since George Washington was our president.


            Campaign buttons, and other memorabilia, chronicle our political choices.  They also tell us about our developing technology and theories of communication.  Often, the words and phrases that appear on our political buttons reflect our changing popular culture.


            George Washington was unopposed for the presidency in 1789 and 1792.  There was no campaigning.  However, supporters produced our first political buttons then.  They were actual buttons, meant to be sewn on vests and coats, that commemorated the start of our great democracy.  A reproduction of one of them is shown below.



            Throughout the antebellum era (1812-1860) most political “buttons” were really tokens or coins, often with a small hole by which they could be attached to a lapel or watch chain.  Some were simply carried in the pockets of a candidate’s supporters as a good luck piece.  In the decades prior to the Civil War many of these token-buttons bore ferrotype pictures of the candidates. 


The token-buttons produced for Stephen A. Douglass must have attracted some attention in Ontario County.  The official Democratic candidate in 1860, "The Little Giant" grew up in Phelps, and attended Canandaigua Academy prior to his move to Illinois.   On September 15, 1860, Douglas made a campaign stop in Clifton Springs.  According to the Ontario Messenger (which endorsed Douglas) some 25,000 people Clifton Springs to hear Douglas speak.


During this period many ribbons were also produced that could be pinned to a coat or hat.  An image or slogan was printedon the silk ribbon.  The first Republican presidential candidate, John C. Fremont, was promoted by ribbons in the election of 1856.




The production of ribbons and tokens; together with the plates, pitchers, scarves, bottles, and other trinkets popular in that period; greatly increased with the advent of the mass market presidential campaign in 1840.  That was the “log cabin” campaign of “Old Tippecanoe,” William Henry Harrison.  General Harrison was the first Whig candidate for president.





Collecting political campaign buttons, and other memorabilia, has become a recognized educational hobby with a national following.  The American Political Items Collectors (APIC), founded in 1945, counts among its members both hobby collectors and serious scholars of American political culture.  Its website (<http://apic.us/>) is one of many Internet sites featuring the history of political memorabilia.  Another good site is the Cornell University Collection of Political Americana.  Its website address is (<http://cidc.library.cornell.edu/political/>). There are also many books about these artifacts of American democracy.






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