Was the McKinley assassination captured on film?

I’m reading Reclaiming History: The Assassination of President John F. Kennedy by Vincent Bugliosi. On page 452 (in a chapter on the Zapruder film) I came across this footnote…

This is the first I’ve ever heard of this. I’m aware of footage shot at the exhibition, but not of the actual assassination.

What’s the straight dope?

I’m not aware of any footage either. I’ve seen a still photo that was taken minutes before, as he stepped from his carriage.

From the accounts I’ve read, there is footage of people outside the building but taken after the actual shooting. There is footage of McKinley’s last full speech, the day before, no matter what the YouTube caption reads. It’s an outdoor speech. I’d be surprised if they could have filmed indoors given the light levels needed for motion picture film in 1901. I’ve never read anywhere that cameras were running and pointed at McKinley when the shots were fired. I haven’t read anywhere that Czolgosz (Shoal-gosh or Coal-gosh) was identified in the crowd. Murdering McKinley by Eric Rauchway doesn’t mention that to my memory.

There’s a very nice little museum in Buffalo dedicated to the assassination that I’ve been to. I’m sure they didn’t have a film of the shooting or of Czolgosz. There is no photography of any kind of the shooting. Only drawings exist. Bugliosi’s footnote is to Don Olson and Ralph F. Turner. “Photographic Evidence and the Assassination of President John F. Kennedy.” Journal of Forensic Science, but I can’t find that online.

Unless somebody can find that article I’m going to assume that no footage exists.

I was going to put in an interlibrary loan request, but then I thought I’d do a broader search first, just to check, - here you go. (I can’t help the sideways nature of it)

ETA: it looks like the statement that implies film was available may be from a book titled Two Reels and a Crank (see the article citations), but I’m not sure.

Thanks for hunting the article down. With those citations, though, we may have problems.

Two Reels and A Crank is only available in snippit view from Google Books. The relevant passage is on p. 132 apparently, but I’m not sure what keyword to use to bring it up. The quote from Hans Gross Criminal Investigation is on p. 173 but the snippit cuts off too early again.

It’s hard to understand why nobody else makes these claims if there is any substance to these cites.

It’s available from a library in my system - I’ve requested it, and should have it by Wednesday or Thursday, depending on how fast they get it sent - someone poke me by PM if I haven’t come back by Friday to update. Picking up the book should remind me to check the citation/sources for it and come back here, though.

It’s pronounced CHAWL-gawsh in Polish. I can never predict how Americans will mangle the pronunciation of foreign names, though. I have an intuitive feel for learning pronunciations of other languages, but I have no intuitive feel for how to distort them with conventional anglicization.

Anyway, in Polish,
rz or ż=zh
All of which are pronounced retroflex (“hushing”), with the tongue tip further up and back than the corresponding sounds in English. Polish also has a parallel set of palatal (“rustling”) sounds with the tongue tip more forward and flatter than in the corresponding English sounds.
English speakers cannot very well hear the difference between these two parallel sets of consonant sounds, but the distinction is important in Polish to be able to tell similar words apart where the only difference is a palatal sound vs. its corresponding retroflex sound. Polish speakers’ ears are attuned to hearing a clear difference between them. For example, bić ‘to beat’ vs. bicz ‘whip’.

I’ve been interested in and have read about Presidential history for a long time, and would be very surprised to learn that there is footage of the McKinley assassination. I really doubt there is.

Who conducted the official investigation of the assassination? Was it city, state, or federal?

I would think that photographic evidence would be cited in the official report.

Even if it did exist, it wouldn’t surprise me if it was destroyed afterward. I’m sure the Kennedy family would have destroyed the Zapruder film if they could have - not to cover anything up, but to prevent millions of people from gawking at it.

Can you cite any time ever in any assassination or assassination attempt in American history where the photographic evidence was destroyed?

How about post-assassination? Edward M. Stanton forbade photographs of Lincoln’s body during the funeral procession from Washington, D.C. to Springfield, IL.

At least one photograph was taken & promptly confiscated. It was believed lost until a kid discovered it in the archives.

Times were different then. If there was enough eye-witness testimony to convict Csolgosz, then any photographic evidence might have been seen as “obscene” & likely to be used in a disrespectful manner.

Sorry, but this is hardly the same thing.

An interesting side note is that William McKinley was the first president to ride in a motorized vehicle but only by dint of having been driven to the hospital in an ambulance following the shooting.

Nitpick: Edwin.

He became prez in 1897; his term-and-a-fraction coincided with the period of the first commercial cars coming onto the market.

Yeah, he got in about one-eighth of his second term, IIRC, and the other seven-eights to Roosevelt.

OK, how about this, Stanton also removed pages from John Wilkes Booth’s diary. Those have never been found.

The FBI destroyed a note written to Agent Hosty by Lee Harvey Oswald.

The above isn’t photographic evidence, but so what? There’s nothing magical about a photograph, especially when there are dozens of eye-witnesses & the accused is proclaiming his own guilt all the way to the electric chair.

Even the footnote in question stated that the alleged footage was only examined for evidence of conspiracy. It wasn’t needed to prove Czolgosz’s guilt.

So yeah, IF the footage existed, I would not be surprised if it was destroyed to prevent it being played on nickelodeons all over the the world.

Where are you getting your information, conspiracy sites? You need to be a bit more discriminating in your sources.

I’ll just list one that should demolish the Booth diary page removal crap.


You started a very interesting OP. Don’t turn it into a conspiracy rant.


How the hell do you get “conspiracy rant” from ANYTHING I’ve written?

If I need to reassure you, how about this.

I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, but it’s a fact that the FBI destroyed a note written by him to Hosty.

Stanton was a overpowering force in the aftermath of the Lincoln assassination. He did confiscate & destroy the negative, & kept one print of Lincoln’s body. It was not found for decades. I believe Stanton wanted to tie the conspiracy to assassinate Lincoln to Jeff Davis. Booth’s diary may have contradicted that theory. I don’t think that Stanton was part of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln.

And, what is conspiratorial about believing that the alleged footage of McKinley’s assassination might have been destroyed out of common decency? It wasn’t needed to convict Czolgosz.

Sam’s reacting as he is probably because you’re not using even a particle of common sense, and that’s a hallmark of conspiracy theorists.

I’ve been arguing that the reference you found to photographs of McKinley’s assassination is wrong. Why? Common sense. If there were photographs, then these would be among the handful of most famous photographs in all of history. Everybody would print them. Everybody would talk about them. Yet nobody does. This is impossible. That they aren’t cited constantly is enormous evidence that they never existed.

Yet you want to argue that they existed but were deliberately destroyed. Deliberately destroying something immediate focuses a million times more attention on it. Everybody wants to know what was on them. If we knew that the photographs existed but had been destroyed THAT WOULD BE THE LEAD SENTENCE IN EVERY ACCOUNT OF THE ASSASSINATION.

And talk about conspiracy theorists. There is a thread going on right now in which the OP writes:

And he can write that with a straight face EVEN THOUGH THE UNITED STATES DID NOT HAVE A CENTRAL BANK AT THE TIME OF MCKINLEY’S ASSASSINATION. (Or at Lincoln’s for that matter.)

Imagine, just imagine, what the CTs would be like with a deliberately destroyed photograph. No matter how many eyewitnesses there were, they’d always be able to claim that the photos showed proof that alien puppeteers were controlling Czolgasz by infrared strings or something.

We know this is true, because that kind of evidence is already being used, specifically in the link that sam gave where your CT about the diary is part and parcel of the conspiracy even though it’s, you know, not.

You have been giving “evidence” of a possible conspiracy based on non-facts. How is that not a conspiracy “rant”?

Not to mention that what happens in the aftermath of an assassination is a wholly different animal from the assassination itself. They are not equivalent. It was a big deal when the National Enquirer published pictures of Elvis in his coffin. So what? Their existence or non-existence says absolutely nothing about his death. If there was a picture of Elvis being injected with a lethal dose of drugs, I assure you that the National Archives would set aside a separate wing for it.

You’re using CT logic and CT evidence. You can’t take umbrage at being thought a CT.

Bullshit. I never claimed that they existed. The claim for their existence is the footnote I provided. I simply speculated that IF they existed they MIGHT have been destroyed to prevent them from becoming a sideshow attraction. If you want to put a tinfoil hat on that, be my guest.