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Happy Birthday to Teddy Roosevelt, Class of 1880

October 27, 2013--Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th president of the US and a member of Harvard's Class of 1880, was born on October 27, 1858 in New York, NY. The slideshow below (scroll down for captions) explores his early life and his time at Harvard using materials from the extensive Theodore Roosevelt Collection held at Harvard's Houghton and Widener Libraries.   





A young Theodore Roosevelt, nicknamed "Teedie," wearing a jaunty hat.

Theodore Roosevelt around four years old, wearing what appears to be a velvet jacket and holding a cap.

Theodore Roosevelt at 17, with early evidence of whiskers.

Theodore Roosevelt in 1875 wearing a fierce headscarf, top left, with Corinne Robinson Roosevelt (his sister), Edith Kermit Carow (who he married following the death of his first wife) and Elliott Roosevelt (his brother) in Oyster Bay, NY.

Theodore Roosevelt in December 1876 as a freshman at Harvard with a healthy set of whiskers.

Roosevelt was an avid naturalist since a young age, keeping diaries and sketching his observations, like this one of a bird, of the natural world. He attended Harvard intending to study zoology, and his first publication at age 19 was The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in Franklin County, N.Y. It was co-written with a Harvard classmate, Hal Minot, and based on their observations from a trip they took during the summer between their freshman and sophomore years. It was the first scientific study of bird life in the Adirondacks.

Theodore Roosevelt in a sculling outfit at Harvard around 1877. As a child, Roosevelt suffered from asthma. His father recommended physical activity to build his endurance, and Roosevelt developed a lifelong dedication to exercise.

Theodore Roosevelt included this tintype in a letter to his sister Corinne in May 1878, writing "At last the deed is done and I have shaved off my whiskers. The consequence, I am bound to add, is, that I look like a dissolute democrat of the fourth ward. I send you some tintypes I had taken for distribution among my family and friends. The front views are pretty good; although giving me an expression of gloomy misery that I sincerely hope is not natural." 

This picture, taken around 1879, shows one of the rooms at 16 Winthrop Street (now 38 Winthrop Street) rented by Theodore Roosevelt while he was at Harvard. He rented private rooms as a student, preferring the solitude that allowed him to work with his natural history specimens.

Roosevelt studied zoology at Harvard, and this postcard was sent as a reminder about a talk he gave to the Harvard Natural History Society in 1879 when he was a senior. Roosevelt did well at Harvard academically, becoming a member of Phi Beta Kappa.

Theodore Roosevelt, on the floor to the right of the table, in an 1880 photo of the Porcellian Club, described by the Harvard Crimson as "by far the oldest, the most exclusive and the most secretive of the Final Clubs." On the table is a boar's head, the club's symbol. Roosevelt was also a member of the Hasty Pudding Club and the Dickey Club.