William B. McKinley (1856-1926), son of a Presbyterian minister in Champaign, Illinois, made a fortune in central Illinois public utilities, including the Illinois Traction Company. As a philanthropist, he made donations estimated at $10-$12 million to the University of Illinois, related organizations, churches, hospitals, and other charities.
Entering politics as a Republican in 1904, McKinley was elected seven times to the U.S. House of Representatives, losing only in 1912 when the Bull Moose movement split the party. In 1920, he became a U.S. Senator. Seeking re-election, he lost the primary in 1926, in part because of his support for the World Court. He died in December 1926, before completing his senatorial term.
Materials in the McKinley collection document many subjects. Business papers relate especially to his effort in 1918 to win approval for a rate increase from the State Public Utilities Commission of Illinois and from various city councils. The collection also documents McKinley's interest in about a dozen philanthropic causes.
Other papers relate to McKinley's political career. In particular, some papers concern his work in 1912 as Director of the National Taft for President Bureau--the principal topic of another, larger McKinley collection at Syracuse University. Clippings at Illinois relate to McKinley's interest in the Interparliamentary Union, 1920-26, and to his campaign for reelection to the U.S. Senate in 1926, as well as other matters late in his career and his death.
The McKinley collection was donated to the University of Illinois Library in 1999 by Ross and Barbara Camp of Champaign, Ill. through the assistance of Dan Eaton, also of Champaign. Ross Camp was McKinley's grand-nephew. Interfiled in the collection are a few items donated by Louise McComb Ross in 1978 and Edwin C. Rae in 1997. The last folder contains writings about McKinley by others.