On the Campaign Trail
Elections Past as Seen Through the Collection of William ‘Pat’ Schuber
By Rebecca Maxon
Photos: Jonathan Meter
William “Pat” Schuber’s election memorabilia collection started with a handful of buttons given to him by his father. For decades now, Schuber, clinical professor of homeland security, has collected election-related objects. The 1960 contest between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy originally piqued his interest. “I started collecting because of that election — the excitement of the candidates, the first televised debates and the fact that both candidates visited Bergen County, N.J.” He recently exhibited items from his extensive collection — which ranges from as far back as Andrew Jackson, all the way up through Joseph Biden vs. Donald Trump — at the Oradell Public Library. Step back in time to elections past, as the country gears up for 2024!
A Historic Spread
Schuber’s admiration of Abraham Lincoln started with the first library book he borrowed — a biography of the president. Some of his favorite items promote Lincoln for president in 1860. Another favorite is a spread from Harper’s weekly that previews all the candidates for the Republican nomination.
Walk Softly and Carry a Big Stick
Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt became president when he succeeded President William McKinley, who was assassinated in 1901. Roosevelt first became involved in politics as a member of the New York State Legislature. Prior to that, he helped form and lead the Rough Riders, a cavalry unit that fought in the Spanish-American War. This pin, used in his 1904 election campaign after serving out McKinley’s term, is a unique predecessor to the now common campaign buttons.
The End of Camelot
John F. Kennedy, a Democrat, won the 1960 presidential election. On November 22, 1963, hardly past his first thousand days in office, Kennedy was assassinated as his motorcade wound through Dallas, Texas. This miniature license plate, created prior to his death, was meant to promote him in the 1964 election.
Shirley Chisholm, ‘Unbought and Unbossed’
As the first Black woman in Congress, “Fighting Shirley,” a Democrat, championed racial and gender equality and ending the Vietnam War. In 1972, she became the first Black woman to seek the nomination for president. She faced even more discrimination after entering the race, but persevered, continuing to serve in Congress until 1983.
All Buttoned Up
Schuber’s collection contains a wide range of buttons, spanning the 1950s through recent years. This small sample shows selections from Dwight D. Eisenhower through Barack Obama/Joseph Biden and John McCain/Sarah Palin.
William “Pat” Schuber, clinical professor of homeland security in the School of Public and Global Affairs, has a keen interest in local and state politics as well as on a national level. The first buttons he received, a gift from his father, were from the 1960 election, featuring Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
Schuber served in New Jersey as Bergen County executive for 12 years, as a member of the New Jersey State Assembly for nine years and as mayor of the Borough of Bogota for four years. He is now the Oradell Borough (N.J.) historian. He also is the seminar director for the Bergen Leads Program, sponsored by the Volunteer Center of Bergen County, training future leaders in business, nonprofit and government roles. He has written several scholarly articles and co-authored books on history, leadership and homeland security.