In Hail to the Candidates: Presidential Campaigns from Banners to Broadcasts (Smithsonian Institution Press, 212 pp., $39.95 cloth, $19.95 paper), Keith Melder scatters his text with archival photographs and political artifacts to convey a weighty message. Buttons, banners, and even quirkier promotional items like pitchers, hair brushes, shoe horns, dinner pails, and ladies stockings have littered the campaign trail for the last 200 years, he says. Yet with the rise of mass communication, such "festive"
approaches have declined. In the 19th century, presidential contests were "explosive, hurrah-style celebrations of democracy." But 20th-century campaigns "became more restrained, less festive and joyful.... The traditions of participation diminished," he says.
Part of the collection is on display at the Smithsonian.