There is a place where you can learn about presidential campaigns and elections that is both informative and fun. The Glendale Historical Society is sponsoring an exhibit at the Doctors’ House Museum in Glendale’s Brand Park from 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays during October and November that compares and contrasts the elections for U.S. president in 1908 and 2008.
Not only do we show how far voters’ rights have come in the last 100 years, but we also address how we can further improve upcoming elections. There are an amazing number of similarities between the issues in 1908 and 2008 that show to what extent we face the same problems again and again in our history.
My favorite forum for this exhibit is when I get to take Glendale third-graders and their teachers through our displays on weekdays. The students get to vote for both the 1908 and 2008 candidates, although since women did not have the right to vote 100 years ago, the girls are encouraged to demonstrate loudly, holding suffragist placards, while their male friends cast their votes for either William Howard Taft or William Jennings Bryan.
Upstairs, all the children vote (using equipment on loan from the Los Angeles County Registrar’s Office) and we then count the votes together. While the winners cheer, we remind all of them that this year’s result is not yet known, and that it would be unkind to tease the losers, who are already feeling bad about the outcome.
We also talk about the ways in which women and minorities have been kept out of the highest office, and that while 103 countries have had female presidents or prime ministers, the U.S. has had none. Voter registration forms are available, and the exhibits will be updated once the result of the Nov. 4 election is known.
From the animated and interested response from our little visitors, it is clear that learning about and experiencing elections does not have to be a chore. I hope many adults and older students will take this opportunity to visit this wonderful local resource, which provides changing exhibits for a voluntary donation.
ISABELLE MEYER is the curator of the Doctors’ House Museum and a Glendale resident.