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McKinley Museum to host Presidential Book Launch Party & Dinner

The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is hosting a Presidential Book Launch Party and Dinner to celebrate the release of Executive Director Kim Kenney’s new book Exploring the American Presidency through 50 Historic Treasures on March 30 at 6:00 PM.  Doors will open at 5:15 PM for a book signing prior to the dinner, which will feature a program with Kenney that will talk about the process of working with 40 different museums and historic sites to choose one artifact per president.  She will also share her top 10 favorite artifacts from the book.

Dinner will begin at 6:00 PM and is catered by Babcia’s Lunchbox. Dinner will include a choice of chicken piccata or beef bourguignon. All entrees will include smashed potatoes, roasted asparagus, beet and apple salad with citrus vinaigrette, wedding soup, and a dessert. Tickets are $55 for members and $60 for non-members.

Beginning at 5:15 PM, visit our gift shoppe for a sip & shop! Sample the McKinley themed coffee, Coffee Bill, pick up the brand new book, and get it signed before the dinner begins. Merchandise will be sold as supplies last and cannot be held. The shoppe will reopen after the dinner and the program concludes for another chance to purchase the book and have it signed! Signature is included with purchase of copy.



No person in the world is more recognizable than an American president.  These men are larger than life, and as the leader of the free world they have the opportunity to shape history in ways that most of us cannot imagine.  Some objects, such as the Resolute desk, Air Force One, or the presidential seal, are symbolic of the position itself, but each president has at least one artifact that largely defines his life and his presidency.  For example, George Washington’s ill-fitting dentures plagued him for most of his life, affecting the very image of his face that we have all come to recognize.  Millions of Americans were comforted by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “fireside chats” as he spoke into a radio microphone during the Great Depression and World War II.  John F. Kennedy memorialized a coconut husk, with a message he wrote after his PT boat was destroyed in the Pacific Ocean, into a paperweight he kept on his desk in the Oval Office.  Bill Clinton appeared on late night television playing the saxophone to appeal to younger voters.

Exploring the American Presidency through 50 Historic Treasures brings together significant artifacts from the lives of the men who have led our nation through times of great prosperity and terrible tragedy.  When we look at our presidents through the lens of the material culture they left behind, it humanizes them and creates relevance to our own lives.  This book features full-color images of 50 artifacts that were chosen by the very people who work at presidential sites and historical museums, stewarding the legacies of our presidents.


It’s easy to find books about the presidents. However, while biographies teach us about presidents, only artifacts “have a unique power to convey the immediacy of history.” Only material culture, the examination of artifacts, conveys the raw, “uninterpreted story of our past.” This engaging catalog presents one notable object for each president, along with a detailed historical-background essay and color photo, from Washington’s notorious teeth (which were not made of wood) to a vial of the COVID vaccine for Joe Biden. Also covered is a decapitated Andrew Jackson figurehead, just nose to crown, angrily sliced from a wooden bow figurehead on the USS Constitution in 1834. Other artifacts include the bullhorn used by George W. Bush to speak to 9/11 first responders at Ground Zero, the microphone used by Franklin Roosevelt for his comfortingly informal fireside chats, and Lincoln’s hauntingly bloody chair from Ford’s Theatre. This collection of historic treasures deserves a spot in the browsing section of school and public libraries.  ― Booklist

Kenney presents material-culture objects selected by historic-site staffers that epitomize aspects of U.S. presidents. Similar in format and approach to Harold Holzer’s The Civil War in 50 Objects and Richard Kurin’s The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects, this narrative details the provenance of many otherwise mundane articles. Among those chosen are many similar talismans—desks of John Adams, James Monroe, and Martin Van Buren—and the expected—Washington’s dentures, Lincoln’s chair from Ford’s Theater; FDR’s microphone; Truman’s “The Buck Stops Here” desk sign; Reagan’s piece of the Berlin Wall; Clinton’s saxophone; George W. Bush’s 9/11 bullhorn; a pen that Obama used to sign the Affordable Care Act; and Trump’s MAGA hat. Somewhat unusual artifacts receive the author’s helpful explanations—Jefferson’s friendship gift of a walking stick to Madison, a piano that Tyler’s wife gave him to mark his transition to the presidency, and a replica of the original Hungarian crown which Carter repatriated. These iconic pieces provide the opportunity to share little-known stories. Perfect for history buffs. ― Library Journal

“From George Washington’s dentures (not made of wood), to James Madison’s gold-capped cane (Thomas Jefferson’s lovely gift), to Ronald Reagan’s piece of the Berlin Wall (a well earned souvenir), 50 historic treasures indeed they are. The photographs are striking, and Kimberly Kenney’s interesting narrative gives them life, depth, and relevance with unusually revealing insights about the presidents who owned them.”  — James B. Conroy, author of the prize winning Lincoln’s White House: The People’s House in Wartime

“What makes a president? Kimberly Kenney’s vignettes of the men elected to lead our nation use carefully chosen objects—some famous like Washington’s dentures and others unknown—that connect these, sometimes towering figures, to the ordinary challenges of human beings. Through their possessions we are privy to their triumphs and their failures. Open the book to your favorite President and discover him anew.”  — Gretchen Sullivan Sorin, Director & Distinguished Service Professor, Cooperstown Graduate Program


Kim Kenney graduated summa cum laude from Wells College in Aurora, NY with a major in American history and minor in creative writing. She earned her Master of Arts degree in History Museum Studies at the Cooperstown Graduate Program. Kim became Curator of the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum in October 2001 and was promoted to Executive Director in 2019.

She is the author of nine books, including Exploring the American Presidency through 50 Historic Treasures, Stark County Food:  From Early Farming to Modern Meals (with co-author Barb Abbott of Canton Food Tours) and Murder in Stark County.  Her work has appeared in The Public Historian, the journal of the National Council for Public History; White House History, the journal of the White House Historical Association; The Repository; The Boston Globe; Aviation History; and the literary magazine Mused.

Kim has appeared on The Daily Show, First Ladies: Influence & Images, and Mysteries at the Museum.  Her program “The 1918 Influenza Pandemic” was featured on C-SPAN’s series American History TV. She is an adjunct faculty member at the University of Mount Union, where she received the Jane Weston Chapman Award for her dedication to women’s history programming.


The McKinley Presidential Library & Museum is located at 800 McKinley Monument Dr NW in Canton. The Keller Gallery is the Museum’s temporary exhibition space and features a variety of topics each year. The Museum also includes the McKinley National Memorial, McKinley Gallery, Street of Shops, The Stark County Story, Discover World, Ramsayer Research Library, and the Hoover-Price Planetarium. The Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM. The Museum is closed Sunday and Monday.