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MCKINLEY MUSEUM Board mulls buying photo of assassin



Published: Tue, September 11, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



It would be the museum's first and only photo of the assassin.

STAFF/WIRE REPORTS

NILES -- The McKinley Memorial Museum will consider acquiring a recently discovered photograph of the man who assassinated President William McKinley 100 years ago.

The picture was found amid a pile of high school memorabilia.

"It's something we'll look into," said Patrick Finan, McKinley Memorial Library director.

McKinley, who was born Jan. 29, 1843, in Niles, was shot Sept. 6, 1901, in Buffalo, N.Y., at the Pan-American Exposition and died eight days later. Leon Czolgosz, an anarchist, was convicted of the crime and executed.

An examination could not determine whether the photograph of Czolgosz is an original print, but such a distinction does not really matter, said Grant Romer, director of conservation and museum studies at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film in Rochester, N.Y., who said the photograph is genuine.

"The process and object type is very true to the turn of the century, give or take five or 10 years. The format of the object is very much police style and is certainly a low-number reproduction," Romer said.

"It's hard to say if it's a copy of a photograph or original from negative. In any case, there aren't thousands of these things lying all over the place. The object was made within a year or two of the event."

Price: Romer said that while it is difficult to gauge the photograph's worth in terms of dollars, it probably would not go for anything close to an astronomical price because of Czolgosz' relative obscurity on the page of infamy.

"He's not like John Wilkes Booth or Lee Harvey Oswald," Romer said. "This is a guy whose name you can't even pronounce."

McKinley served several terms in Congress and two terms as Ohio governor before he was elected president in 1896 and re-elected in 1900.

The photo turned up last year amid a pile of memorabilia from the Mishawaka, Ind., High School Class of 1894. Peggy Marker, director of the Hannah Lindahl Children's Museum, has been trying to confirm its authenticity as an original print.

The McKinley Memorial Museum includes artifacts and memorabilia from the 25th president's personal and political life but it doesn't have a photo of his assassin.

A note on the envelope in which the photograph was found states that the photograph was one of five prints made at police headquarters in Buffalo the day of the shooting. The note says the negative was then destroyed.

Options: The question now is what to do with it. Marker said the Hannah Lindahl board will consider a number of available options during its October meeting.

The George Eastman House has offered to care for the photograph, as have area museums.

"We'd be interested to talk to them," Finan said, adding that cost would be a consideration in whether the library board seeks the photograph.




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