The History of Streaking Buttons

Aug 2nd 2017

The History of Streaking Buttons

Just like buttons, streaking holds a special place in the heart of Americans. Which makes sense why streaking is the subject to so many wonderful (and slightly ironic) buttons in the Button Museum. Our Director of Operations, Joel Carter, is a bit of a streaking aficionado and is always on the look out for buttons to add to the collection. Not that he's ever partaken in the "sport" (to our knowledge), but he is our foremost expert on the subject around the Beaver Dam.

The act of streaking has been popular since the mid-1960s in the aftermath of the free love youth movements in the 1960s. The term streaking was first used in 1973 during a mass nude run at the University of Maryland. A common misconception is that streaking is a form of nudism, however the two are differentiated because the streaker intends to be noticed by an audience. This intent can be spawned for a variety of political, social, or enthusiastic reasons with the main goal of streaking to be to disrupt.

Nixon Streaking Button

The years between 1972-1974 were difficult for US President Richard M. Nixon (1913-1994) Adversely, 1972-1974 we're some of the best years for streaking culture. After 1973, when the truth about the tape recorders in the Oval Office came to light during Nixon's testimonies in front of Congress Nixon resigned his presidency in 1974, amidst impeachment proceeding in the House of Representatives. Streaking became a part of American protest with this button shows Nixon partaking in the fad, his hands in the V-sign.

Streaking Button

Though streakers are still in the news here and there, the heyday of the phenomena was relatively short-lived from 1973-1974. 

streaking buttons

Looking at the Button Museum's collection does beg one major question, though: Where exactly does a streaker wear a button?

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