Design Artifacts: U.S. Election Posters from History

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Editor’s Note: In this recurring series, I’ll dig up intriguing artifacts from history and share them with you. This week, I found some interesting election posters from U.S. history—all from a variety of sources including the Library of Congress and Reddit’s /r/propagandaposters.

I’ve been feeling a little election-weary lately—and I know I’m not the only one. When current events grow too overwhelming, I tend to take solace in history and design. So what better way to divert myself from the current election than to take a look at election posters from the past? Here you’ll find an array posters from presidential elections. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the shameless mudslinging:

U.S. Political Propaganda: Presidential Election Posters from History

George McGovern & Richard Nixon, 1972


Ronald Reagan vs. Walter Mondale, 1984


Herbert Hoover vs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1932


Thomas E. Dewey vs. Franklin D. Roosevelt, 1944


Abraham Lincoln vs. George B. McClellan, 1864


Adlai Stevenson vs. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952


Jimmy Carter vs. Gerald Ford, 1976


William McKinley vs. William Jennings Bryan, 1900


John F. Kennedy vs. Richard Nixon, 1960


William Z. Foster (Frontrunners: Calvin Coolidge, John W. Davis and Robert M. La Follette Sr.), 1924


Bonus: This is actually a button (obviously) but I thought it was pretty interesting. Debs earned 3.4% of the popular vote—913,664 write-in votes—that year despite being imprisoned at the time for his draft non-compliance advocacy.

Eugene V. Debs, 1920 (Frontrunners: Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox)


Related design resources:

  1. Show Posters: The Art and Practice of Making Gig Posters

  2. Online Course: Figure Drawing

  3. Online Course: Adobe Indesign Advanced