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Inaugural Umbrellas: 1901

March 4, 1901. "President William McKinley second inaugural parade, Pennsylvania Avenue." Brady-Handy Collection glass negative. View full size.

March 4, 1901. "President William McKinley second inaugural parade, Pennsylvania Avenue." Brady-Handy Collection glass negative. View full size.


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The Prisoner

That was my first thought. Actually, I have thought about the show in a number of instances with the photos from this era. This one, though, was the one that REALLY did it for me.

Re: Never seen a flag like that

There was no such thing as an "official" American flag until President Taft standardized the design in 1912. This flag design was as official as any other with the correct number of stars on it. It would appear to be the forerunner for Wayne Whipple's flag. See the pdf chart of US Flags at

America's Choice Bike Shop

Anyone have any idea what the name of the bike shop with the awning is? I would love to know if there was once a frame-builder in DC.

["America's Choice" was President McKinley. This was the R.M. Dobbins bike shop at 1425 Pennsylvania Avenue. - Dave]

Washington Post building

Near the middle of the photo you can see the top of the Washington Post building (located at 1339 E St. NW, according to the Post website). The Post still uses the same font for its masthead.

Suffrage in Virginia

Arnnman writes about women's suffrage:

"But in other states, even when they did enjoy the vote, the right to vote was not extended to women in all kinds of elections. This was the case in both Maryland and Virginia in 1901."

I don't think this was the case in Virginia at all. Women here did not get the right to vote until three-fourths of the states ratified the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920. However, even then, Virginia refused to ratify until 1952.

Encyclopedia Virginia's entry on the subject can be found here:

If we got this history wrong, please let us know.

Dressing up to go out

One might wish to stroll down lovely Tremont Street in 1906 Boston, but imagine having to dress up like this just to go out!

I once lived in a house built in the 1890s that had not had the privilege of being remodeled in the intervening century. Each closet was outfitted with precisely three hooks: One for Sunday, one for Monday through Saturday, and one for overalls.

Dressing up was surprisingly less onerous than you'd think when you owned precisely three suits of clothes. The smell, despite the presence of numerous laundries, was another issue entirely. Sweat, wool, tobacco, macassar oil, and lilac water is a powerful combination. Every time I see a Shorpy crowd photo from 1890-1910, the smell overwhelms me.

Dang! Never seen a flag like that!

Parade flag with stars inside a circle of stars -- anyone know if or when that was an official flag?

Dig that flag!

Tthe flag in this photo is by far the coolest historical flag I think I've ever seen; I never realized that we went back, briefly, to the old circle constellation style for a brief period at the very beginning of the 20th century.

Parade, si! Vote, no!

I appreciate Stevie's comments on democratic spectacles. I feel that kind of nostalgia, too.

But before getting too carried away with that kind of enthusiasm, I would like to note that most of the spectators frozen in the year 1901 by this photo were unable to vote for either of the major presidential tickets (McKinley / Roosevelt or Bryan / Stevenson). Nor for that matter could they cast a ballots for Wooley, Debs, Barker, Maloney or any of the other presidential candidate who managed to get himself steamrolled by the Republicans in 1900.

Why? I assume that most of the people in the photo lived in DC. Any of them alive in 1964 would have been enfranchised by the 23rd Amendment (1961), and so could have voted for President in 1964--finally.

That's not to mention that no woman in the photo could have voted in 1900. The 19th Amendment wasn't ratified until 1920.

For that matter, it would have been unlikely that any of the African American males who were in town that day from Virginia or Maryland had been permitted to vote in their own districts.

So when we celebrate our democratic heritage, let's also remember how far we've come.

[Whether the women in this photo could vote depended on where they lived -- suffrage was granted by the individual states and territories (starting with Wyoming, in 1859) long before passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920. By 1917, women in 16 states plus Alaska already had the vote. - Dave]

(Dave, I appreciate your comments as well. I think I was looking at the forest, and you, at the trees. Just a couple things.

First, Wyoming was admitted to the Union in 1869, and its constitution did enfranchise women.

Second, a number of states did allow complete women's suffrage by 1915--not surprisingly, they were nearly all western states with Progressive traditions, save New York. (Differences from one state to another encouraged by our federal system must always be taken into account.) But in other states, even when they did enjoy the vote, the right to vote was not extended to women in all kinds of elections. This was the case in both Maryland and Virginia in 1901.

Third, there were localized instances of women being extended suffrage rights in the US before the Civil War, but those rights were very specialized. As I recall, in some states, women could vote if they were widowed and owned property above a certain value.

Finally, all African American males should have been enfranchsed after the passage of 15th Amendment in 1871. The odd thing is that, by and large, the women's suffrage movement of the 19th and 20th Centuries avoided taking black suffrage on board with their own cause.

Thanks again for both the entertainment you provide here, and the chance to blog about the occasional arcane, forgotten, or obscure issue.)

Ka Pow !

Which one is the Penguin ?


I haven't been able to spot a mullet hairdo, but if JeffK is referring to the second umbrellist from the right in the first row, what looks like long hair in back is actually the bottom corner of the cape on the guy behind.

Social Propriety

Once past the Umbrella Drill Team, one is impressed that onlookers are free to line buildings, windows and parapets. Although there is some police presence, it appears nobody really expects this important ceremony to be disrupted by protests or violence. No longer a safe assumption in these security-conscious days! Still, the price of this social stability seems to have been a rigid sense of "proper" dress and public decorum. One might wish to stroll down lovely Tremont Street in 1906 Boston, but imagine having to dress up like this just to go out! Those onlookers would be scandalized by at least 75 percent of today's ordinary public activities (Kids running around! Unsupervised teenage couples! Boisterous music!), not to mention our scandalously revealing comfortable clothing.

A Prelude

>> One of the aspects of 'the good old days' that is actually true: no fears of disruption or calamity.

That's a rather ironic statement considering that slightly less than 6 months later the man whose inauguration was being celebrated would lie dead in Buffalo, shot by the Anarchist Leon Czolgosz.

Number 2

I thought of The Prisoner too.

The Village

Anyone else see the umbrellas and capes and think of The Prisoner?

Pride Parade

The umbrella corps would do San Francisco proud. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Short Time in Office

From the date of this photo, President McKinley would have but a little more than six months in office; losing his life to a madman's bullet on September 14th. His VP - Teddy Roosevelt would become the 26th President.
I agree that this looks to be a much more enjoyable inaugural parade than we've seen of late. I doubt that any of these marchers would be thrown out of their organization because they dared look at the President.

Short Term

McKinley, the last veteran of the American Civil War to be elected, would be assassinated six months later. His vice president, Theodore Roosevelt, would succeed him.

Where's Waldo...

...can you find at least one man who is uncovered (not wearing a hat)? I think I can see a couple.

I find it heartening to see such enthusiasm for the workings of democracy. I suppose a cynic would say that it was a time when the people were starved for entertainment and would turn out for any dog and pony show, especially if given a few hours off. To me, in a time when the media weren't so pervasive, it was probably important that the democratic process was proved to have been completed.

What goes up must come... Wait, what?

Again and again, we see photos on Shorpy that feature people fearlessly leaning out 6th-floor windows, cramming onto roofs, perched on mile-high balconies and swinging from the tops of fifty-foot poles. Makes me think the apple fell on Isaac Newton much later...say, the 1940s.

No dames allowed?

Virtually no women visible in the ranks of the spectators. What's that about?

[There are dozens of women in this picture. - Dave]


It looks like it was staged by Walt Disney and great fun to be in and to watch. One of the aspects of "the good old days" that is actually true: no fears of disruption or calamity. A celebration of Liberty.

Takes Guts

There are at least 2 men sitting on top of a telephone or light pole and a few more about halfway down. I hope they all got down safely.


Did anyone else notice the fashion-forward hairdo on one member of the umbrella drill team?

Friends Forever

Is that a pickpocket in action left foreground?

Precision Umbrella Drill Team Rules!

Complete with snappy white top hats (the Doo Dah Parade is calling, gentlemen!) And if that's The Washington Post building in the background, maybe they're the (well informed) destination for the impressive array of phone lines above the buildings on the left. Hopefully the men perched atop the other phone pole aren't disrupting calls!

Just fun

What a whimsical sight, from the umbrellas, to the white top hats, to the dog in the street. Can you think of any inaugural parade in the last fifty years that was as much fun?

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