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Archivists seek Iowa Caucus memorabilia

June 23, 2015

Caucus ButtonsArchivists at Drake University are seeking memorabilia associated with Iowa's first-in-the-nation caucuses, and they expect many of the most rare and interesting treasures are boxed up in attics, basements, and barns throughout the state.

The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement and Cowles Library at Drake University created the Iowa Caucus Collection in early 2014 as the nation's only repository for the collection, preservation, and cataloging of historical artifacts associated with the caucuses.

This summer, as campaign activities ramp up in the state of Iowa, archivists are reaching out to a breadth of organizations—from historical societies, to political organizations, to antique shops and libraries—for assistance in building the collection. They also need assistance from individual donors who have personal or familial ties to the caucuses.

"The Iowa Caucuses have a history and culture that is distinct from any other democratic exercise in the United States," said Hope Grebner, political papers archivist at Drake University. "Since 1972, candidates have made exceptional efforts to attract Iowa's voters. Almost every serious candidate runs in Iowa, and some candidates run only in Iowa. The Iowa Caucus Collection serves as a vital record of the special role Iowans have played in national politics and the selection of this country's president."

The collection is accepting contributions of any caucus-related materials, including campaign files and paperwork, video and audio recordings or photographs from campaign events or candidate appearances, media kits, and campaign memorabilia (yard signs, t-shirts, buttons, stickers, or other items).

The collection is housed in the University Archives in Drake's Cowles Library, where it will be publicly accessible to researchers, scholars, historians, school groups, and community groups, alongside the historical documents of U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Gov. Robert D. Ray, and other prominent figures in Iowa and U.S. history.

Anyone who would like to contribute Iowa caucus memorabilia is invited to contact Hope Grebner at 515-271-2088 or hope.grebner@drake.edu.