Object of the Week: George Washington Bicentennial Button


George Washington is remembered as a Founding Father of the United States of America, the first president of the country, as well as a military veteran. He received his military training with the Virginia Regiment, and was later selected as a delegate to the Continental Congress which in turn, appointed him as the Commanding General of the Continental Army in 1775.  Washington declined a salary but was reimbursed for his expenses.[1]  He ultimately led American forces to victory against the British in the fight for independence before ascending to the presidency.  In his newly-defined role as President, Washington was also commander in chief of the nation’s military forces.  This political button from the Department of Archives and Special Collections depicts Washington dressed in military gear, demonstrating his astute understanding that effectiveness as a military leader and president was contingent on appearance as well as action.[2]

Brass button that says, "G.W. - Long Live the President"
Image courtesy of Mark Finkenstaedt via www.mountvernon.org

Political buttons are a uniquely American invention that originated with George Washington’s presidential campaign.[3] His candidacy was also the first presidential election in the United States.  Washington and his supporters wore a brass button that said “G.W. – Long Live the President“, the phrase proclaimed by Robert Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, after he administered the Oath of Office to George Washington in April 1789 at Federal Hall in New York City.[4] The Electoral College unanimously elected Washington as the first president in 1789, and again 1792.  He is the only president in American history to receive the totality of electoral votes.[5] The political pins worn by Washington’s supporters were more like buttons, sewn to lapels and did not include a likeness of the candidates. The first photographic image on a political pin dates to 1860 during Abraham Lincoln’s presidential campaign. Lincoln, and his running mate for Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin, ran on the Republican ticket and used metal buttons with tintype images of each candidate on opposite sides which more palpably demonstrated support of candidates. [6]

The ferrotype and tintype photographic processes that allowed images of candidates to be reproduced widely were invented in the 1850s.  The invention of photography enabled widespread dissemination of candidates’ likenesses in a time before widespread media, such as television, the internet and social media allowed voters to see images of political hopefuls. The political button is one of the oldest and most popular ways to indicate support of a particular candidate or issue.

This pin from Seton Hall University’s Department of Archives and Special Collections features the face of George Washington on a gold background with a red, white and blue accent ribbon.  It was issued in 1932 to mark the bicentennial of his birth. It is one of many different style buttons issued to commemorate the occasion.

For approximately the past 120 years, slogans, pictures, and names have been widely used to promote candidates and causes. While buttons are still produced today, disposable stickers are more frequently used at rallies and political events, since they can be made cheaply and in larger quantities.  This pin is but one of a large collection of political buttons housed in the Archives and Special Collections Center.  This collection was cultivated and donated by Monsignor Francis Seymour, former Archivist for the Archdiocese of Newark.  The collection contains political buttons from national and state elections, as well as those endorsing particular political causes.    ­



The images and materials shown here are but a small part of the vast patrimony available to students, faculty and researchers.  For access to this or other objects in our collections, complete a research request form to set up an appointment or contact us at 973-761-9476. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Washington, accessed 11/2/2020

[2] https://www.mountvernon.org/preservation/collections/general-washingtons-military-equipment/, accessed 11/2/2020

[3] http://archives.library.yorku.ca/exhibits/show/pushingbuttons/history-of-political-buttons, accessed 10/19/2020

[4] https://www.mountvernon.org/preservation/collections-holdings/the-material-culture-of-the-presidency/inaugural-buttons/, accessed 10/19/2020

[5] https://www.mountvernon.org/library/digitalhistory/digital-encyclopedia/article/presidential-election-of-1789/, accessed 10/19/2020

[6] https://www.thehenryford.org/collections-and-research/digital-collections/artifact/324508/, accessed 10/19/2020

Object of the Week: “Madonna of the Rosary” by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder

Lucas Vorsterman the Elder
Madonna of the Rosary (after Caravaggio)
22” H x 16.5” W
early 17th century
Image courtesy of the Walsh Gallery



This engraving by Lucas Vorsterman the Elder is after an original painting by Caravaggio.  Though we do not know the patron of this work, art historians believe Caravaggio’s painting was part of an altarpiece created for a Dominican church – inferred by the presence of Saint Dominic – shown on the right holding rosaries in his outstretched hands.  It is thought the figure peering from beneath Saint Dominic’s robes is the patron who commissioned this work given his eye contact with the viewer and proximity to the saint and the Virgin Mary.[1]

The month of October is dedicated to the Holy Rosary. According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roche, Mary appeared to Saint Dominic in 1206 after praying.  She gave Saint Dominic the Rosary, explained its uses and significance, and told him to preach it to others.[2]  The Rosary consists of prayer and meditations on the life of Christ using rosary beads as an aid.  Catholics pray the rosary to ask God for a special favor, such as helping a loved one recover from an illness, or to thank God for blessings received.[3]

The rosary has 59 beads, a crucifix, and a medal, with certain prayers for each of the pieces. The prayers of the rosary can be divided into three categories: Introductory Prayers, The Decades and Closing Prayers.[4]  The prayers that compose the rosary are arranged in sets of ten “Hail Mary” prayers. Each set of ten, or decade, is preceded by one “Lord’s Prayer” (“Our Father”) and traditionally followed by one “Glory Be.”  During the recitation of each set, thought is given to one of the Mysteries of the Rosary, which recall events in the lives of Jesus and of Mary. Five decades are recited per rosary.[5]

The term rosary is derived from the Latin word rosarium or rose garden and the rose is the symbol of the Virgin Mary.The earliest documented use of the term rosary dates back to 1597[6], though the story of Saint Dominic tells us the word likely appeared much earlier in time.  Rosary beads are made from a variety of materials.  These include ordinary ones such as plastic, rope or wood, or more expensive materials such as gemstones or precious metals.  The tradition of using beads to pray spans across many faiths and cultures.  Hindus, Greeks, Buddhists and numerous other peoples use beads to pray.  Interestingly enough, the word bead in English is derived from an Old English word that means prayer.[7]

Rosary with made of red plastic beads and a metal chain and crucifix, Collection on Pope John Paul II (MSS 0004)
Rosary, Collection on Pope John Paul II (MSS 0004)



The Walsh Gallery has a considerable collection of fine art, artifacts and archeological specimens. For access to this or objects in our collections, complete this research request form to set up an appointment. 


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madonna_of_the_Rosary_(Caravaggio)  accessed 10/7/2020

[2] https://www.livingbreadradio.com/2015/09/october-the-month-of-the-holy-rosary/ accessed 10/7/2020

[3] https://m.theholyrosary.org/  accessed 10/7/2020

[4] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/how-to-pray-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020

[5] https://m.theholyrosary.org/  accessed 10/7/2020

[6] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/history-of-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020

[7] https://dynamiccatholic.com/rosary/history-of-the-rosary accessed 10/7/2020


Object of the Week: “Rabbi” by Isaac Goody

Isaac Goody
30” x 23”
Gift of Mr. Joseph Elkind

“Passover affirms the great truth that liberty is the inalienable right of every human being…. Pharaoh enslaved a whole race, and was chastised for his crime by the Divine Hand. But in thus intervening between the slave and his oppressor the Almighty fixed His canon against slavery for all time. He thereby declared that every human being has the right to the freedom which will enable him to develop to the utmost all the powers of body, of mind, of soul, with which God has endowed him; and that slavery, therefore, with its debasing effects upon the intellect and the character, is a sin against the laws of God himself.”  – Morris Joseph, Jewish Theologian, excerpt from his book, Passover: Judaism as Creed and Life

Passover is a week-long festival commemorating the exodus of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. In Hebrew, it is called Pesach, meaning “to pass over,” as God passed over the homes of Israelites during the tenth plague on the first Passover. This multicolored serigraph print in a graphic style depicts a Rabbi wearing a yarmulke and a tallit, reading from a prayer book. In the background are two rolled Torah scrolls in a Aron Kodesh, or Holy Arc.

Object of the Week: The Seton Family at their Estate in Cragdon

Alfred Booth
The Seton Family at their estate in Cragdon
Reproduction of an original albumen silver print
8” × 8 ⅞”
1866 – 1867
Courtesy of Archives and Special Collections
Mss 0074

Check out this photo of Seton family members at Cragdon, their estate located in the area tucked between the present-day Bronx neighborhoods of Wakefield and Eastchester. Going through family photos can unearth gems like one and is a great activity for your extra time at home. As you rediscover your own treasured images, there are a few things you can do to increase their longevity. Make sure you have clean, dry hands when handling photos and try not to touch the image directly but hold it from the sides and bottom. When thinking about where to store your photos, areas with temperatures between 65-70 degrees are ideal, as rooms temperature changes common in rooms such as a basement or attic can accelerate deterioration. If your photos are kept in an album, use ones with acid-free pages or polyester, polypropylene, or polyethylene sleeves and use photo corners instead of glue or tape when mounting photos. When displaying your photos, keep them out of direct sunlight to avoid fading, yellowing, and embrittlement.

Object of the Week – “The Gathering” by Muhammad Ali

Muhammad Ali
The Gathering
Lithographic print
23” x 27”
Gift of Mr. Joseph Elkind

Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)! One of the holiest months of the year for Muslims, Ramadan commemorates the month in which the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad by Allah (God). Daily fasting is practiced, and it is a time of self-reflection and spiritual improvement. Ramadan is a time to strengthen one’s relationship with Allah through reading the Qur’an and prayer, as well as reinforce communal bonds through shared meals when breaking the fast and giving to the poor. This print depicting figures in white walking towards a mosque with two minarets and a gold dome is by American Muslim, sports figure, celebrity and political activist, Muhammad Ali, who joined the Nation of Islam in 1964 and later converted to Sufi Islam after a pilgrimage to Mecca in the 1970s.

Object of the Week: Crucifixio Jesu Christi

Friedrich August Ludy
Crucifixio Jesu Christi
13.375” x 17.5”
Gift of Anonymous Donor

“Good Friday is much more than reliving the passion of Jesus; it is entering into solidarity with the passion of all people of our planet, whether in the past, the present, or the future.” – Henri Nouwen

Each year on Good Friday, Christians commemorate the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Ludy’s engraving depicts these events. Pontius Pilate is shown a plaque which reads, “JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS” in Hebrew, Greek and Latin, as Jesus is nailed to the cross in the background. The figure depicted on the far-left kneeling in prayer is artist Johann Friedrich Overbeck who painted the original work on which this engraving is based.