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College celebrates women in politics

Emily Dabish | Wednesday, November 5, 2008

In recognition of the political season, the Cushwa-Leighton Library at Saint Mary’s has displayed a collection of memorabilia representing the transformative nature of women’s role in politics. Consisting mainly of buttons, the Joyce Shell collection includes pieces from the 1940’s convention to the current race.

Saint Mary’s librarian Joyce Shell began the collection of memorabilia when her husband took her to political conventions. After visiting a few her interest in political memorabilia grew and she found particular interest in pins relating to women in politics.

The buttons show women’s ambition, suffrage and contribution. It also shows the progress of women in government.

There are many buttons from various women’s rights organizations and issues including women’s rights, voting and equal pay as well as political parties.

“These presented issues help to start an investigation,” Saint Mary’s librarian Robert Hohl said.

Some buttons illustrate events that aren’t commonly known, like women who ran for presidency before they even had the right to vote. Others show more widely acknowledged movements, such as women rebelling against inequality during the Women’s Rights Movement.

One of the earliest buttons, stating “Edith Not Eleanor,” dates to the candidacy of Franklin D. Roosevelt. The button not only shows the support of Roosevelt’s opposition, but also signifies the influence the first lady has in a presidential campaign.

Other buttons show support of First Lady’s Hilary Clinton, Nancy Reagan, and Barbara Bush.

Several buttons asked for the First Lady to “pack up the white house” as though the old candidate was going take everything with him.

Hohl explained such an idea is very relevant in the latest presidential race, and that some displayed slogans are still current. For instance Shirley Crisholm, a black politician who ran for presidency in the 70’s, used the slogan a “catalyst for change”, which is reminiscent of Barack Obama.

Certain pieces in the collection conveyed a sense of humor, one referring to Hilary Clinton as the “wicked witch of the west wing” and another to Barbara Bush as “first mama.”