The Suburbanite
  • The Monday After: Ida remembered

  • The wife of William McKinley, Ida, will come to life on television June 10 when C-Span airs the season finale of its series “First Ladies: Influence and Image.”

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  • The wife of William McKinley, Ida, will come to life on television June 10 when C-Span airs the season finale of its series “First Ladies: Influence and Image.”
    “They’ve been running one or two first ladies each Monday at 9 p.m. since earlier this year,” said Patricia Krider, executive director of the National First Ladies’ Library in Canton. “Ida McKinley will be the last of this season, and they’ll pick it up again in September.”
    The programs examine the private lives of the first ladies, as well as the years they spent as presidential wives. Ida McKinley served as a first lady from 1897, following William McKinley’s election in 1896, to 1901, upon his assassination.
    While in Canton, C-Span filmed segments of the Ida McKinley program at the First Ladies’ Library’s Saxton McKinley House on Market Avenue S and at the Conservation Gallery and other artifact storage areas of the Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum.
    While at the Saxton McKinley House, the C-Span camera focused on Ida McKinley’s diverse education.
    “Ida’s father, James Saxton, wrote to one of Ida’s teachers and in the letter he said that he wanted Ida to have more than just the normal formal education,” said Krider. “He wanted her to learn things like bookkeeping. That later played a part in her working in his bank.”
    Ida also learned about music, so C-Span filmed in the Saxton McKinley House parlor, where her piano has been placed. Also in the parlor is the music box, on loan from the McKinley museum, that Ida brought back from her “Grand Tour” of Europe.
    Filming upstairs in the ballroom, which served as the McKinleys’ bedroom during the years that they lived in the Saxton McKinley House, Krider focused on Ida McKinley’s influence on her husband’s presidential campaign. Displayed in a case in the ballroom are Ida McKinley campaign ribbons, while exhibited in another case is the small book, “Sketch of the Life of Mrs. William McKinley” by Josiah Hartvell, published in 1896.
    “She was the first first lady to have a campaign biography written about her,” explained Krider. “What the campaign managers were trying to do is show the public that Ida wasn’t a sickly invalid — that she could fulfill her role as first lady.”
    Kimberly Kenney, curator at Wm. McKinley Presidential Library & Museum, showed C-Span fragile Ida McKinley artifacts that are stored safely in the museum’s Conservation Gallery.
    “They were looking for things that represented Ida’s presidential years,” said Kenney. “We showed them some of Ida’s gowns — all from the White House years — and I talked a little about each of the dresses.”
    Among other artifacts that Kenney showed to C-Span were personal items that give insight into Ida McKinley’s sense of fashion.
    Page 2 of 2 - “We have a set of her parasol accessories, all made of coral,” said Kenney, “as well as two broaches of coral.”
    Kenney noted that the C-Span program producer also was interested in letters that Ida sent back home from her “Grand Tour,” as well as correspondence following the president’s death.
    “We have a bound book of personal condolences from family and friends,” said Kenney. “They’re dated, with references to any acknowledgment that was made of them.”
    Reach Gary at 330-580-8303 or gary.brown@cantonrep.com.
    On Twitter: @gbrownREP
    WHAT “First Ladies: Influence and Image”
    WHEN 9 p.m. June 10
    WHERE C-Span cable channel
    WHO Segment of “First Ladies” focuses on Ida McKinley
    WHY Examines the private and public life of the wife of President William McKinley
    The National First Ladies’ Library at 205 and 331 Market Ave. S. Canton, will hold an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday to celebrate the birthday of Ida McKinley. Free tours will be offered at the Saxton-McKinley House. Visitors will be able to see the new exhibit, “Eyes on First Ladies: The Power of the Press,” at the Education & Research center. Light refreshments will be served. For information visit www.firstladies.org or call 330-452-0876.

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