Traveling Exhibits - Austin History Center

Traveling Exhibits

Getting Austin Elected: Buttons and Bumper Stickers from the Austin History Center

Now on display on the 4th floor of the Austin Public Library. 

[Election signs at Brodie and Wiliam Cannon], PICA 29028

Campaign Buttons have been used to promote political candidates as early in US history as George Washington’s campaign for president. The early buttons were actually made of cloth and sewn onto clothing. Photographs on buttons date back to 1860, with Abraham Lincoln’s portrait reproduced on a disk using a tintype process. Since 1916, buttons have been made using a metal disk with a pinback to attach it to clothing or metal tab that folds over a lapel or pocket.

Bumper Stickers have a more recent history, beginning with the development of a self-adhesive paper and vinyl during World War II. Bumper stickers appeared during the late 1940s, but the first documented use to support political candidates came during the 1952 presidential campaign between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson II.


Clearing Stones, Sowing Seeds: Photographs from the Travis County Negro Extension Service Collection

Now on view at the Austin Public Library

Circa 1940s, AR.2000.025(312-01), Travis County Negro Extension Service Photograph Collection, 1940-1964.

Extension services in Texas officially began in 1915 when the Texas Legislature assigned administration of the Texas Agricultural Extension to Texas A&M University, and established the Cooperative Extension Program, administered by Prairie View A&M. As part of the Cooperative Extension Program, the Travis County Negro Extension Service served as the communication link between Prairie View A&M and Travis County Black residents. The agency provided assistance and programming to African American rural residents, including only Farm and Home Demonstrations. 4-H Clubs, the youth program of the Extension Service, provided services to young people to acquaint them with the latest in agricultural technology as well as build leadership and civic skills. Although the end of the age of segregation eliminated the need for dual governmental agencies, Prairie View A&M continues to oversee what was the Negro Extension Service program, but the program has been modified to address the needs of customers with limited resources and is now called the Cooperative Extension Program. “Clearing Stones and Sowing Seeds” provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of African American life in rural Travis County as documented by the Extension Service created to improve their lives.