Government

Do you have Obama memorabilia from his Iowa campaigns? Presidential center is on the hunt

A variety of buttons available to supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., before the Hawkeye Labor Council’s “Workers For A Better Iowa” candidate forum Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007, at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.
A variety of buttons available to supporters of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., before the Hawkeye Labor Council’s “Workers For A Better Iowa” candidate forum Saturday, Aug. 18, 2007, at Hawkeye Downs in Cedar Rapids.

If you’re still hanging on to those campaign brochures from the Obama years or photos of you and the president, this could be your opportunity to share.

The Obama Presidential Center will have the first of three Iowa Collections Gatherings from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday at Red’s Alehouse in North Liberty.

“It’s almost like ‘Antiques Roadshow,’ ” said Sue Dvorsky of Coralville, who has been working with the center on it search for Obama-related memorabilia.

Dvorsky is quick to add that the center staff won’t be taking items back to Chicago. The event will be an opportunity to connect and share memorabilia from the Iowa campaign to be considered for acquisition.

“They’re cataloging items and getting Iowans’ stories so when they get back to Chicago they know what they have, what they need” to complete the collections, Dvorsky explained.

Iowa — in particular, the work the campaign did leading up to the 2008 Iowa caucuses — “was positively pivotal for the Obama campaign,” Dvorsky said. “So will be a special part of the collection.”

The presidential center will tell the story of President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama from their time raising a family on Chicago’s South Side to the White House. The museum will highlight key moments in their lives, including their 2008 Iowa caucus victory that sparked a successful presidential campaign.

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The collections gathering will be a time for people who were on the ground in Iowa in 2007-08 and 2011-12 to share the kinds of stories and memorabilia that will be highlighted in the museum when it opens.

The museum is looking for “any objects that reflect or represent a story from the campaigns, that tell the story of the Obamas from that time,” said Sophie Loyd of the museum team at the Obama Foundation. In addition to the campaign pins, signs and posters, “there probably are a lot of unique items out there that we wouldn’t think to ask for.”

The center will have similar collections gatherings Thursday at the home of Dean Genth and Gary Swenson in Mason City and Friday at the Isiserettes headquarters in Des Moines.

Dvorsky, a former Iowa Democratic Party chairwoman, and her husband, Bob, and their daughters were early backers of Barack Obama. The opportunity to work with the center staff has been an “absolute joy.”

“These are not political people. They’re museum people,” she said.

When she mentioned the possibility of getting one of the Obama campaign’s “hope” barn signs that lined the highway to the Harkin Steak Fry in Indianola, “they had no idea what a barn sign was.”

“So we’re teaching them to speak political, and they’re teaching us to talk provenance,” Dvorsky said.

For more about the Obama Presidential Center, visit obama.org.

What the Obama Presidential Center is looking for

Presidential campaigns:

• Campaign, election, and inauguration memorabilia of all kinds, including materials related to specific organizing groups and/or communities

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• Objects, documents, or photos from campaign volunteers that show a unique, unexpected or personally meaningful aspect of the campaign experience

• Mementos from notable, emotional, exciting or challenging moments during the primaries and national campaign

• Materials related to Election Night 2008 and the 2009 inauguration, including expressions of identity- and/or community-based pride and the historic nature of President Barack Obama’s status as the first African American president of the United States

• Anti-Obama materials that speak to the complex narrative of our democratic process

• Other fun, inspirational, surprising, representative and/or unique objects that speak to the historical nature and exuberance of the presidential campaigns (2008 and 2012)

Obama presidency and Administration:

• Objects, documents and images that connect to the challenges, critiques, achievements and significant events of Obama’s eight years in office and that helped shape and define his presidency

• Objects, documents or photos that show a unique, unexpected or personally meaningful aspect of the administration’s work or its impact on individuals and/or communities, including military service members and their families

• Personal mementos of interactions with the president, first lady or other members of the White House from either presidential term

Comments: (319) 398-8375; james.lynch@thegazette.com

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