Skip to main content

President McKinley's Assassination

Columbia's Crushing Sorrow.

The weeping allegorical figure, Columbia, represents the Unites States of America mouring the loss of its slain President, William McKinley.

Mr. Boller was a Republican as evidenced by the presence of his 1888 Republican National Convention ticket stub included on page 9 of his scrapbook. On pages 38 through 67 one sees many newspaper clippings about the assassination of President William McKinley who was also a Republican. Unlike the clippings about the 1905 Chicago Teamsters’ Strike (on scrapbook pages 99 through 128) which include articles about Mr. Boller, the articles related to McKinley’s assassination have nothing to do with Boller directly. The presence of these articles may represent an affinity Mr. Boller had for his country’s Commander-in-Chief and fellow Republican but it is much more likely Boller retained these clippings simply because of the historical significance of the event.

McKinley’s assassination, not unlike the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the September 11th terrorist attacks, left a deep indelible mark on the Americans living at that times. These clippings are in essence a keepsake of having lived through the experience but they are also the very first draft of history.

As Ellen Garvey points out in her C-Span presentation, The History of Scrapbooking, collecting newspaper clipping into scrapbooks of the 19th century was a way for individuals to document what they had read as well as a way for them to sort and organize the overwhelming amount of print media they were being inundated with.[1] Katie Good also highlights that scrapbook making is a way to for the creator to navigate through the abundance of media.[2]

As one leafs through this section of Mr. Boller’s scrapbook we see the overwhelming range of emotions the nation was going through; the initial shock of the event, the hopefulness for McKinley’s recovery, the mourning of his passing, the rituals associated with grieving for a U. S. president, the sympathy for the widow, and the ushering in of a new President under the shroud of such a tragic event. We can infer that not only was the nation experiencing these feelings but so too was Mr. Boller.



[1] Ellen Garvey. “History of Scrapbooking.” C-Span video, 57:01. May 23, 2013.http://www.c-span.org/video/?312791-1/history-scrapbooking&start=81.

[2] Katie Day Good. “From Scrapbook to Facebook: A History of Personal Media Assemblage and Archives.” New Media & Society 15, 4 (June 2013): 557.