Overview and History
The collection started as a research library opened in New York City by the Roosevelt Memorial Association in 1923. It was presented by that organization (known since 1953 as the Theodore Roosevelt Association) to Harvard University, Roosevelt's alma mater, in 1943.
The collection includes:
- correspondence of Roosevelt and his family;
- original manuscripts that include many of Roosevelt’s diaries, speeches, articles, and books;
- the archives of the Progressive Party and of many of Roosevelt’s biographers;
- and a vast collection of books and articles, photographs, political cartoons, and ephemera relating to both Roosevelt’s personal and professional life.
Personal and Family Papers
Personal papers in Harvard’s Roosevelt collection include Roosevelt’s:
- childhood and travel diaries
- personal, pre-presidential scrapbooks
- speech, article, and book drafts
- letters, chiefly to his family
Additional Roosevelt family correspondence and diaries are found in the papers of both of Roosevelt’s sisters, his wife Edith, daughter Ethel Derby, and son Archibald. The collection also includes papers of Progressive editor Edwin Van Valkenburg and labor economist Charles Patrick Neill.
The majority of manuscript correspondence and compositions written or dictated by Roosevelt have been digitized. Links to digitized material can be found in the guides to the various manuscript and archival collections.
History and Politics
Archival materials in the collection include:
- a chronological file of speech texts
- interviews with Roosevelt’s contemporaries
- research notes and book drafts of Roosevelt’s biographers John Callan O'Laughlin, Hermann Hagedorn, Lawrence F. Abbott, William Roscoe Thayer, John J. Leary, Henry F. Pringle, Carleton Putnam, Stefan Lorant, G. Wallace Chessman, Nathan Miller, John Gable, and Kathleen Dalton
- correspondence, committee minutes, platform drafts, convention proceedings, membership lists, and financial records of the Progressive Party (1912–1916)
Books in the Roosevelt collection (more than 14,000 items) are shelved mainly in Widener Library. The collection tries maintain as comprehensive a set as possible of published writing by and about Roosevelt.
Photographs and Cartoons
The Roosevelt collection include thousands of photographs that document Roosevelt’s public and private life, family, homes, and memorials. Many of the images in the collection have been digitized. You can access them via HOLLIS Images.
Many of the images in the collection have been digitized (up to about 1910, or through the end of Roosevelt's presidency).
Browse these photographs by topic from the following list:
General to 1905 inaugural
Childhood and youth, 1858-1880
Ranching in Dakota, 1883-1886
War of 1898 / Spanish-American War
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: War of 1898
- Baker photographs of transports
- Dinwiddie Rough Rider photographs of Tampa and Cuba
- D.L. Elmendorf lantern slides
- D.L. Elmendorf photographs: Tampa, Key West, Dewey Parade
- D.L. Elmendorf photographs: Artillery, Cavalry, Infantry regiments
- D.L. Elmendorf photographs: Montauk, Long Island
- Emerson Rough Rider lantern slides
- Hahn photographs of the Cuban coast
- Harmon photographs of Cuba
- Hemment photographs of battleships
- Knapp Rough Rider snapshot album
- Lamarque photographs of Cuba
- Prentice Rough Rider snapshot album
- C.R. Robinson album of Cuba and Montauk
- Rough Riders in San Antonio
Pre-presidential political career, 1881-1901
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: pre-presidential political career
- Impressions of the campaign, 1900
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency, 1901-1902
- New England speaking tour, 1902
- George Prince portraits of Cabinet and Senate, ca. 1902
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency, 1903-1904
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency, 1905
- Simpson Western trip photographs, 1905
- Lambert Western trip photographs, 1905
- C.E. Emery souvenir album of Colorado bear hunt, 1905
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency, 1906-1909
Post-presidential years, 1909-1919
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: African safari, 1909-1910--dated
- Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: African safari, 1909-1910--undated
- Kermit Roosevelt photographs of the African safari, 1909-1910--numbered
- Kermit Roosevelt photographs of the African safari, 1909-1910--unnumbered
- Western and southern trips, 1910
- E.B. Bacon snapshot album, 1912
- Roosevelt in Spokane, 1912
A collection of over 4,000 political cartoons, virtually all now digitized, spanning 35 years of Roosevelt’s public career are also included in the collection. These include both original drawings, and published cartoons.
Printed ephemera in the collection include campaign literature, broadsides, and newspaper clippings.
There are also files of diplomas and certificates, sheet music, picture postcards, invitations, programs, banquet menus, campaign buttons and ribbons, and other souvenir artifacts.
For more on the ephemera collection, see HOLLIS.
- The Theodore Roosevelt Papers at the Library of Congress compliments the Harvard collection. It holds the Roosevelt presidential collection as well as some family papers and early Roosevelt materials. The finding aid includes additional details.
- Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University has created a presidential digital library, which serves as a depository for Roosevelt-related documents, photographs, and ephemera.
- Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the home of Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death in 1919, offers guided tours as well as special events and programs throughout the year.
- Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, reconstructed after his death, offers guided tours throughout the year.
- The Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site is the location where, following the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo, New York, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office. The site is now open for tours.
- Theodore and Edith Roosevelt purchased the small Pine Knot cabin in the Virginia woods in 1905 to use as a retreat from their busy lives in Washington. The house is now open for tours by appointment.
- Roosevelt spent several years ranching in Dakota Territory; his experiences out west helped inspire his significant conservation efforts as president. The Theodore Roosevelt National Park preserves the land on which his Elkhorn Ranch stood, as well as his first ranch cabin. It's open year round.
- Founded in 1919 and chartered by Congress in 1920, the Theodore Roosevelt Association is a national historical society and public service organization that has perpetuated the memory and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt through an array of historical and cultural activities.
Accessing These Materials
There is no single database that can be searched for material in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection. Researchers should consult HOLLIS for books and single manuscripts/objects; HOLLIS Images for photographs and cartoons; and HOLLIS for Archival Discovery for manuscript and archive collections. An initial search in HOLLIS is recommended.
The Theodore Roosevelt Collection is physically housed in two Harvard libraries: Widener Library and Houghton Library. The specific location of material is listed in HOLLIS. The collections are open to all scholars and Roosevelt enthusiasts over the age of 18.
Another resource for locating material is the Dictionary Catalog and Shelflist, a published catalog of the contents of the Roosevelt collection to 1970. Material listed in the DCSL is not always replicated in HOLLIS.
The Widener portion of the collection contains books and articles by and on Theodore Roosevelt, and on the Progressive Era.
All manuscripts, archival resources, photographs and visual material, and ephemera, as well as a substantial collection of books and other print resources, are housed at Houghton Library. Visitors to Houghton Library must register for a HOLLIS Special Request account before using materials.
Copyright and Permissions
All of Roosevelt’s written work, in manuscript or published form, is in the public domain. The work of other family members may still be under copyright. Any photographs created before 1923 are in the public domain.
A few collection items, currently on deposit at Houghton Library, require additional permission to reproduce. These include Roosevelt’s diaries, a scrapbook he kept while a student at Harvard, and MS Am 1541 (452)-(687).
To cite material from the collection, please use each item’s call number and “Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard University.”