July 09, 2008
By Elisabeth Grant
It’s hard to ignore them. They’re on whenever your turn on the TV; ready to pull your heartstrings, call on your patriotism, or give you a guilt trip. They’re presidential campaign television ads, and they’ve been around since the fifties. Whether you love or hate them, you can find a collection of over 250 of them on The Living Room Candidate web site (noted in an AHA Today blog post last month), a project of the Museum of the Moving Image.
You can search by election year (since 1952) and candidate, type of commercial, or by the issues (civil rights, taxes, war, and more). In 2004, a new section was added, “The Desktop Candidate,” which added content like web ads and candidate web sites. For further analysis of campaigns, a number of online resources are linked to, including sites like FactCheck.org.
The Museum of the Moving Image has also created eight lesson plans for the site (designed for high school students and meeting New York performance standards). The lessons cover topics like “the historical value and influence of campaign commercials,” the “use of language, imagery, and facts,” and “system of linguistic conventions behind political advertising.”
The Living Room Candidate is an excellent resource for historians, students, teachers, and the politically curious.