College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Liberal Arts Matters

Because Ideas Matter...

The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences presents

Recommended Readings

The -Mc Kinley -MonumentThe McKinley Monument: A Tribute to a Fallen President

by Christopher Kenney, The History Press, 2006

Reviewed by George Geib

Public memory is a hot topic today. Personalities and events that the public remembers, and the ways people are encouraged to remember them, lie at the center of an explosion of studies. The accepted wisdom is that the public memory is normally short and highly selective; certainly American leaders are constantly seeking ways to capture and hold our attention for their heroes and values. Public monuments and statuary have come in for a lot of attention. In The McKinley Monument, museum curator Christopher Kenney tells an engaging story of constructing, maintaining, and interpreting the massive Beaux Arts mausoleum in Canton, Ohio, during a century when the fame of its slain President waxed and waned. William McKinley was greatly mourned after his assassination in 1901, but his fame was quickly overshadowed by the attention given to successor Theodore Roosevelt and later presidents. McKinley's burial site at first received the attention of Ohio's elite. But problems soon intruded, ranging from a very leaky roof to an inadequate endowment. New donors, new managers, and changing civic interests all played their part. Today McKinley's mausoleum shares its site with a city museum that contains a couple of memorial rooms as well as a planetarium, an interactive dinosaur exhibit, and a model train layout. One can only wonder if the same will happen to some from our current political generation.

- George Geib is professor of History at Butler University.