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CHICAGO — Buried inside a drawer, in a storage closet, in a library at Northeastern Illinois University, staffers discovered a political junkie’s treasure chest: mounds of campaign buttons dating back to the 1950s.

“I opened it up and thought, oh wow, this is really cool,” said Bonnie Pfeiffelman, an administrative assistant at the library.

The collection contains everything from local Illinois races to presidential runs dating back to Eisenhower in 1952, including two coveted hologram buttons. No one at NEIU’s library seems to know exactly where the pins came from, but after more than a decade lost in the closet they’re now on full display.

“It reminds us of a simpler time when you could stick a button on and and advertise your political beliefs that way,” said William Adler, an assistant professor of political science at NEIU.

Once handed out by campaigns, these few tangible pieces of American history are now valuable enough to put behind glass.

“Back then the campaigns loved handing them out cause it was like free advertising. Nowadays you gotta pay for for the TV advertising, the social media advertising,” Adler said.