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John F. Schrank Letters

Identifier: SC-MS-148

Scope and Contents

This collection contains letters from John F. Schrank, who in 1912 attempted to assassinate President Theodore Roosevelt, to his doctor, Dr. Adin Sherman, during 1914-1918 when Schrank was committed to the Central State Hospital for the Criminally Insane in Waupun, Wisconsin. Schrank's letters contain his gratitude for and desire to maintain his friendship with Dr. Sherman, his commentary on World War I, and general observations and revelations on the current status of his life. A selection of three newspaper clippings about Schrank from 1913-1943 are also included, as well as two article print-outs from 1980 and 1998 about the attempted assasination.


  • Creation: 1913-1919, 1943, 1990, 1998
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1913-1919


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical Note

John Flamming Schrank was born in Bavaria on March 5, 1876. When he was nine, he came to the United States with his parents, who died not long after, leaving him to live and work with his uncle in New York. After the uncle also died, Schrank moved around the East Coast and grew to be very religious. In a dream, Schrank believed the ghost of assassinated President William McKinley told him he needed to kill President Teddy Roosevelt as a warning to presidents seeking a third term.

On October 14, 1912, Schrank attempted to assasinate Roosevelt while he was campaigning for reelection in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He had followed Roosevelt from New Orleans and waited until Roosevelt emerged from his hotel to shoot him. The bullet lodged itself in Roosevelt's chest muscle, but did not do as much damage as it might have, ater hitting his steel eyeglass case and a 50-page copy of his speech first.

Schrank was immediately detained and nearly killed by the unruly crowd, but Roosevelt demanded he be spared, so Schrank was brought into the hotel safely and given over to local police. Roosevelt went on to give his 90-minute speech before finally seeking medical attention, where he was informed it would be better to leave the bullet as is. The bullet remained in his chest until he died in 1919.

After being detained, Schrank was evaluated by doctors and determined to be mentally insane. He was then committed to the Central State Hospital for the Criminially Insane in Waupun, Wisconsin in 1914, where he stayed for almost 30 years until his death from pneumonia on September 15, 1943. It was there he wrote many letters to Dr. Adin Sherman, his doctor at the hospital. Schrank's body was donated to the local medical school at Marquette University, now the Medical College of Wisconsin, for dissection.


5 Folders (Contains 4 document folders and 1 map case folder)

Language of Materials


Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Steven Conway on June 23, 1999.

Digital Access

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John F. Schrank Letters
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Revision Statements

  • August 2019: This finding aid was revised for completion and biographical note written by Nicole Yatsonsky.

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository