Monday, March 31, 2014

Help us spread the word about Ida's tiara!

Click here for an article in today's Repository about our fundraising efforts to purchase Ida's diamond tiara!

We scanned our original of Ida's portrait with the tiara and blew it up on the screen to get a better look at how she wore it.  Since the wings are detachable and can be worn separately from the tiara as pins, Ida chose to wear them both on one side of her head for this photo.  The feather is not part of the tiara.

If you are interested in helping us raise the $43,000 needed to purchase this tiara and bring it back to Canton, please send a check to:

Ida McKinley Tiara Fund
McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
800 McKinley Monument Dr. NW
Canton OH  44708

If you would prefer to make a donation via credit card, please call 330-455-7043.

It is equally important that we spread the word to as many people as possible!  Please share this blog post -- on Facebook, Twitter, and anywhere else people will see it!

With your help, we will bring this important piece of history to the Museum, where it will be preserved for generations to enjoy.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fundraising to purchase Ida's tiara!

UPDATE!! We now have online donations set up! Click here to go to our website and make your donation!


A few weeks ago, Ida McKinley's diamond tiara (seen in the photo above) was sold on the History Channel's show Pawn Stars.  We have seen it in person before, because we've borrowed it to display for special events.  It is two diamond-crusted wings on a plain band.  In the picture you can see one of the wings clearly at the base of the feather.  The wings are removable to be worn as pins.

The day after I saw the show, I called the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop in Las Vegas to see if we could acquire it.  I was told it was not for sale.  So I sent Rick Harrison a letter, letting him know if he ever changed his mind about selling it, we would be interested.

Well, last week he called me back!  He said that he would be willing to sell it to us for what he paid for it.  He wanted it on the show because he is the national spokesman for the Epilepsy Foundation, and since Ida suffered from epilepsy, he wanted to help raise awareness for the disease.

The catch is he paid $43,000 for it.  We don't normally purchase artifacts, but this is such an important piece, we really, really want to be able to add it to our collection.  Since it is not typical for us to buy artifacts, we needed to discuss the possibility of raising that kind of cash with the staff and board.

I got a green light so I called Rick back yesterday.  He said he would put it aside, and he would give us three months to raise the money for it.

That's a much shorter timeline that I was expecting!  But we feel like we can pull this off.  There is a sense of urgency now that just might work in our favor.


If you would like to contribute to our fund for Ida's tiara, please send a check to:

Ida McKinley Tiara Fund
McKinley Presidential Library & Museum
800 McKinley Monument Dr. NW
Canton OH  44708

If you would prefer to make a donation via credit card, please call 330-455-7043.

No donation is too small!  With your help, we can put all of the donations together to get to our goal!

Check back for updates on how much we've raised and additional fundraising plans.


Friday, March 21, 2014

Down for the count

I have spent the past two days lying in my bed with my cats trying to fight a nasty cold.  I'm back in the office today, and I haven't blogged in awhile.  So here's a list of some of the things that I'm working on:

  • The Bridal Show script is almost finished.  I got the last bits of information I needed today, so by the end of the day on Monday, that project will be DONE.  There are only 11 tickets left, so we're sure to sell it out again this year!!
  • I'm also finishing the program and stage design for the Bridal Show.  I'm waiting for a few final lists of donors, volunteers, dressers, etc. so I can finish the program. There wasn't any good paper to fit our travel theme, so I've made the cover myself and will have to print it in-house.  That is best done when I can leave my office for awhile and just let my printer run!
  • I'm working on brand new PowerPoint programs for our Preservation Workshops coming up in April.  I'm doing textiles and furniture, and our Archivist Mark Holland is doing paper and photographs.  I've been wanting to offer this type of program for a long time.  I have an idea for an exhibit in the future about why people collect that will also address these types of themes.
  • I packed up the second pair of Ida McKinley slippers that are going to the Hoover Presidential Library & Museum for their exhibition on First Ladies.  They will depart next week.
  • I received a small wall mounted case that I ordered for the Gold Medal Pulitzer Prize we recently received that was awarded to the Canton Daily News after Don Mellet was shot.  It will be displayed in the Ramsayer Research Library.  Look for more details soon, once I have that "mini exhibit" finished!
I was fortunate to get sick for two days where my calendar was relatively open.  That doesn't often align quite so nicely.  Thank you to everyone who held down the fort while I was asleep on NyQuil!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ohio Memory Madness Tournament begins TODAY!

McKinley Presidential Library & Museum to Participate in Second Annual Ohio Memory Madness

Does your favorite Ohio history object have what it takes to make it to the championship?

(Canton, OH) – In the spirit and fun of college basketball’s March Madness, the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and the Ohio Historical Society invite you to participate in the Second Annual Ohio Memory Madness – a bracket of sixty-four historical objects from across the state all competing for the unique distinction of being named the 2014 Ohio Memory Madness Champion. Since the historical objects featured in the bracket are unable to play tournament style basketball, the winner of Ohio Memory Madness will be determined by public online voting at:

The Ohio Memory Madness bracket features images of iconic historical objects culled from Ohio Memory, the collaborative digital library project of the Ohio Historical Society and the State Library of Ohio, with digital collections from 360 cultural heritage institutions representing all of Ohio’s 88 counties. Voters can learn more about each object by scrolling over each image to view a description, or click on the image to visit the Ohio Memory image page with more information.

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is proud to have a 1918 Hoover vacuum cleaner represent Northeast Ohio in this exciting statewide competition. In1908, inventor J. Murray Spangler was working as a night janitor. While cleaning rugs, the dust aggravated his asthma. He modified some existing equipment to collect the dust and dirt into a pillowcase. Spangler asked Susan Hoover, a family friend, to try the equipment. Her husband, W. H. "Boss" Hoover, was impressed with the "suction sweeper." At the time, the Hoover family business produced mostly horse harnesses and equipment. As the automobile grew in popularity, the leather shop began to fail and they were seeking new business opportunities.

Hoover bought the patent from Spangler in 1908, retained him as a partner, and soon had six employees assembling six units a day in a corner of the leather goods shop. At the time, most homes had no electricity, and they had difficulty selling the sweepers. Once W.H. Hoover took out an ad in the Saturday Evening Post offering a 10 day free trial, they were inundated with requests. The Hoover Company went on to become a nationally-known manufacturer of vacuum cleaners.

Objects will go head to head beginning March 18, and the voting is scheduled as follows:

First round: March 18-21
Round of 32: March 22-26
Sweet 16: March 27-31
Elite 8: April 1-3
Final 4: April 4-5
Championship: April 6-7

Not only can the public vote throughout the tournament to ensure their favorite object makes it to the championship – they can also enter to win a prize pack from the Ohio Historical Society including tickets to the Ohio History Center in Columbus, Ohio, a Retro Ohio t-shirt, and an assortment of Ohio munchies to enjoy while watching that other sport.

Don’t miss your chance to vote for the Ohio Memory Madness Champion! Your vote can make one of Ohio’s historical objects go all the way this March.


About the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum:  The McKinley Presidential Library includes the McKinley National Memorial, the McKinley Gallery, Street of Shops, The Stark County Story, Discover World, the Hoover-Price Planetarium, and the Keller Gallery for changing exhibitions.  We are located at 800 McKinley Monument Dr NW in Canton.

About the Ohio Historical Society: Founded in 1885, the non-profit Ohio Historical Society ( provides a wide array of statewide services and programs related to collecting, preserving and interpreting Ohio’s history, archaeology and natural history through its 58 sites and museums across Ohio, including its flagship museum, the Ohio History Center in Columbus. For information regarding OHS, contact Shannon Thomas, Communications Dept., Ohio Historical Society: 614.297.2317,

Friday, March 14, 2014

Peanuts coming soon to the Keller Gallery!

Charlie Brown is in trouble with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Lucy knows the Earth has 48 suns, and Snoopy and Linus are planting French fries in the garden.  These are just a few of the misadventures and explanations gone wrong as the Peanuts Gang explores the natural world—what other trouble will they find?!

Peanuts… Naturally opens in the Keller Gallery on May 23 with a free opening reception from 6:00 to 7:30 PM.  The exhibition takes a light-hearted look at Charles Schulz’s exploration of the natural world through Peanuts comic strips, videos, objects, and interactive stations. Visitors get a Peanuts-eye view of the universe, “web of nature,” trees, birds, the elements (snow, wind, rain, and clouds), gardening, and Charlie Brown’s EPA escapade. Activity stations allow kids of all ages, from pre-school to adults, to learn more about and appreciate the wonders of the natural world. 

Schulz, who created the Peanuts comic strip for nearly 50 years, was immensely curious, an avid reader, and took a keen interest in the latest research findings in a variety of fields. It is not a surprise that many of these findings and facts found their way into Schulz’s comic strip carefully interpreted through his characters’ unique, and sometimes wacky, understanding of their world.

Peanuts… Naturally is organized and toured by the Charles M. Schulz Museum and Research Center, Santa Rosa, California.  It will be on view through August 17.

SAVE THE DATE!  We will be having a “Spaghetti at Six” for kids and families on August 7 with a special program focused on the environmental themes in Peanuts…Naturally.  (This is a play on our popular adult lecture series “Soup at Six.”)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

NEW Ohio state license plate!

Last week at Statehood Day, Ohio Historical Society's Executive Director Burt Logan unveiled a new history license plate for the state of Ohio!

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to OHS for the History Fund grant program, in addition to the tax check-off monies.

We were particularly excited to see that a mastadon was chosen to represent our state, because the DeVille Mastadon is a centerpiece of our exhibits in Discover World!

History Fund grant for Ida McKinley dress conservation

Last week I went to Statehood Day at the State House in Columbus to accept a "big check" from the History Fund for $3700 toward the Ida McKinley Dress Project!  (The check is now on display in the McKinley Gallery, near the donation box for this project.)

The History Fund is a competitive grant program made possible through donations from the Ohio income tax check-off program.  You can donate a portion of your state income tax return by checking the box on your form.  The average donation is just $8 per person, so it doesn't cost much to make a big difference in history projects across the state.

Here are some highlights from the ceremony:

And these are the two dresses that have been funded by this grant:

Many thanks to the History Fund grant reviewers and the citizens of Ohio for making this grant possible!  We have now funded 5 dresses out of a total of 20 that have been identified as candidates for this project.

Full steam ahead!

Bridal Show prep

It's that time of year!!

I am in the thick of writing the Bridal Show script, based on the stories told to me by the dress owners when they came in to drop them off.  I really enjoy talking to each person, listening to how they met their spouse, what they loved about their wedding gown, and where they went on their honeymoon.

This year our oldest dress is from 1907!  It is white cotton, with many, many parts.  There is a slip, skirt, camisole, blouse, vest, and cummerbund!  There is also a pair of pantaloons, shoes, and stockings which our model will not be wearing.

The dresses are all borrowed from the community -- a museum never, ever allows people to wear garments from the permanent collection.  Many Bridal Show participants choose to donate their dresses after the show, however.  After we process the donation paperwork, they become part of the collection and will only be worn by a mannequin in the future.

There are a total of 43 dresses in this year's show.  There are many lovely examples from the "golden age" of bridal fashion in the 1940s and 1950s.  Plus a ton of really great stories -- some funny, some moving, some sad.  That is what makes our show so unique.  Sure, it's about vintage fashion, but the focus is on the history of the dresses and the couples' individual stories.  I am honored to be the MC for the show, because it allows me to share all of these stories with you.

If you'd like to make reservations, tickets are selling fast!  The cost is $30 per person and includes a pre-party, an elegant brunch, and the style show.  The date is April 5 and doors open at 10:00 AM.  Call 330-455-7043 for reservations.

Back to script writing!