Fragments of May 4: Artifacts, Mementos and Meaning


Over the past few years, the May 4 Visitors Center has received many new artifacts from people who were on campus in 1970 and their families. Memorabilia from the victims of the tragedy, as well as photographs and personal items from witnesses awaiting context and reflection.

As the campus prepared for the 50th commemoration, WKSU's Amanda Rabinowitz and Kent State University journalism professor Jacqueline Marino worked with journalism students to start creating audio reflections of these "Fragments of May 4." Working in teams, they interviewed people connected to these artifacts to discover the stories contained in seemingly ordinary objects: two photographs, a plaque, some bullets and a box marked “Keep Forever.”

A photo of the box that Bill Shroeder's mother kept some of his things in after he was killed on May 4, 1970.

The cardboard box is torn and taped. Before it held the childhood photographs, Boy Scout medals and other items that belonged to Bill Shroeder, one of the students killed at Kent State on May 4, 1970, it contained a new kitchen pot. David Tuttle’s grandmother, Florence Schroeder, brought the box with her when she moved into David’s house in 2006. Even though Florence had marked the box “Keep Forever” years earlier, she told her grandson she was ready for him to throw it away. He didn’t.

Fragments of May 4: From the Ashes of the ROTC Building

Apr 30, 2020
A photo of the bullets that were found at the sight of the burnt ROTC building on May 3, 1970.

Just as protests against the United States’ invasion of Cambodia during the Vietnam War were beginning on Kent State’s campus, Bob Crane started to notice a shift in how his fellow students were treating him. 


Fragments of May 4: The Power of So Many Flowers

Apr 29, 2020
A photo of the plaque that was unearthed this year that honors Brinsley Tyrell and states the number of the daffodils.

In May 1990, a hillside on the Kent State campus burst with 58,175 daffodils for the first time. One flower was planted for each of the U.S. servicepeople killed in Vietnam.

Fragments of May 4: A Photo That Foretold What Was to Come

Apr 28, 2020
A photo of the moratorium march

Editor's note:  This story originally indicated that this photo was taken in the early Spring of 1970. It is from a march that took place on October 15, 1969.    

When an editor at Life magazine approached Kent State University student Howard Ruffner to ask him about  sharing some of the pictures he had taken  from the weekend leading into May 4 or “any rally or activity that takes place” that Monday, he never imagined one of his photographs would be the front cover.

Fragments of May 4: A Photo of the Friend Who Always Had a Smile on Her Face

Apr 27, 2020
A photo of the picture Marty Levick took of Sandy Scheuer a few weeks before the May 4 shootings.

For Marty Levick, the photograph he donated to the May 4th exhibit was a treasure. It showed his dear friend Sandy Scheuer as the person she truly was—a happy, kind and caring girl who always had a smile on her face.