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Collecting the pins, hats and bumper stickers of the 2016 campaign

People collect everything and the memorabilia of the 2016 GOP and Democratic campaigns is no different. But one of the biggest, most ardent collectors may surprise you. It’s The Smithsonian Museum Of American History and curators have been on hand in Cleveland and Philadelphia picking up pins, posters, funny hats and bumper stickers.

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  • GWEN IFILL:

    And finally tonight, a different view of the convention floor.

    Curators from the Smithsonian Museum of American History are on hand tonight, and were in Cleveland last week for the Republican Convention. It's a decades-long tradition, and a mission to preserve political history.

    We caught up with a couple of the curators recently.

    LISA KATHLEEN GRADDY, Smithsonian National Museum of American History: We are the world's biggest trollers for objects. We walk up to people and say, hi, I really like that hat you're wearing. Don't suppose you would like it to be part of the national collection?

    My name is Lisa Kathleen Graddy. And I'm a curator at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.

    The Smithsonian has been collecting the convention since 1960, so we're here to interact with the delegates and to pick up material from them that show their particular support of their candidate.

    JON GRINSPAN, Smithsonian National Museum of American History: People usually love the Smithsonian. So, that's a great conversations starter.

    My name is Jon Grinspan. I'm a curator at the National Museum of American History.

    It's a lot of being nice to people. It's a lot of handing out cards, complimenting people's objects that they have brought, and trying to at the end of the week get them to give it to us or donate it to us.

  • LISA KATHLEEN GRADDY:

    One of the most significant things about this election is, it's the first time that a woman will be running as a major party's candidate.

    We will be looking for things that show women's support of Hillary Clinton as a woman candidate.

    I was up in a higher level and saw a woman on the floor wearing Minnie Mouse ears with a Hillary Clinton button in the middle of the bow. I successfully located her in the Florida delegation, and she's going to send me her Minnie Mouse ears.

  • JON GRINSPAN:

    And other things, we look for objects that say 2016, that say something about Hillary, or about Trump, or immigration, or issues of the day, so that, in the future, you can use these objects as a document to try to understand the past.

  • LISA KATHLEEN GRADDY:

    Something that's yours and you kind of treat with a little bit of a cavalier fashion, once we get it to a museum, it becomes a museum object. And we wear white gloves and we give it a specific number, so we can track it for the rest of its life in the collection.

  • JON GRINSPAN:

    We have these collections that go back for campaigning throughout American history, from William Henry Harrison in 1840 to Lincoln in 1860.

  • LISA KATHLEEN GRADDY:

    We have Ike Girl dresses, and we have hats, and we have buttons, things that now we look at and think, well, isn't that sort of funny, these buttons, these hats, but in a hundred years' time will also be national treasures.

  • GWEN IFILL:

    I may have some of those buttons.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    Me, too.

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