In honor of the upcoming presidential election, we focus today on one form of political advertisement: the bumper sticker. First produced in the 1940s, mostly likely by Kansas City, Kansas screenprinter Forest P. Gill, bumper stickers gained prominence in the early 1950s to advertise tourist attractions, public safety initiatives, political campaigns, radio and television stations, and political and personal viewpoints. As ephemeral artifacts broadcasting historical and social events and trends, bumper stickers are widely collected by museums, archives, and libraries.
Spencer Research Library is fortunate to have a substantive collection of bumper stickers in the Kansas Collection, as part of the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements. This world-class collection was (and continues to be) shaped by Laird Wilcox, a former KU student and expert on right- and left-wing political groups from the early 1960s to the present.
For more information about the history of bumper stickers, see “Soapbox for the Automobile: Bumper sticker history, identification, and preservation”
Bumper stickers spanning the political spectrum from the Wilcox Collection of Contemporary Political Movements.
Above the post text: Wilcox Sticker # 46, 17; below the post text: Wilcox Sticker # 165, 28,
39, 50, 81, 22, 71, 174, 42, 33, 64, 1, 180, 43, 27, 10, 83, 164. Click images to enlarge.
Head, Conservation Services