Houghton Library

Theodore Roosevelt Collection

Portrait and signature

Theodore Roosevelt delivering a speech from a carriage, Willimantic (Conn.). Photograph by Underwood & Underwood. Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency--first term, 1901-1902 (560.51 1902-046).

Overview and History

The Theodore Roosevelt Collection, housed in Harvard’s Houghton and Widener libraries, is a major resource for study of the life and times of the 26th president of the United States. The collection originated 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, along with a vast collection of books and articles, photographs, political cartoons, and ephemera relating to both Roosevelt’s personal and professional life.

Image of speech draft

560.7 Progressive campaign: TR campaigning for the Progressive Party, ca. 1912. Roosevelt 560.7. Theodore Roosevelt Collection

Return to Top


The Theodore Roosevelt Collection is housed in two Harvard libraries: Widener Library and Houghton Library. The specific location of material in either collection is listed in HOLLIS. The collections are open to all scholars and Roosevelt enthusiasts over the age of 18.

The Widener portion of the collection, located on 2 West, contains books and articles by and on Theodore Roosevelt and the Progressive Era. For patrons unaffiliated with Harvard, access to the Widener stacks can be obtained through the Roosevelt curator and the Widener Library Privileges Office.

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 special collections request account before using materials.

Return to Top

Beginning Research

A number of published and unpublished sources can be of use to patrons at the beginning stages of research, or for those interested in quick facts about Theodore Roosevelt.
The collection contains many biographies of Roosevelt published during his lifetime through the present day. Biographies can be located by searching for “Theodore Roosevelt biography” in HOLLIS, or by browsing the stacks in the Roosevelt section of Widener under the call number “Roosevelt 110.”

Roosevelt’s writings
Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific author, and the collection contains nearly all published editions of his works. Multiple editions of Roosevelt’s collected works have been published, and are available at Houghton and Widener Libraries.

TR reading in tent: TR in Kenya, June, 1909. Roosevelt 560.61-164. Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

TR reading in tent: TR in Kenya, June, 1909. Roosevelt 560.61-164. Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

Published correspondence
Several collections of Roosevelt’s correspondence have been published. Selected letters, an eight-volume set edited by Elting E. Morison and published by Harvard University Press in 1951, is the definitive edition. Other published collections of Roosevelt’s correspondence can be found in the collection; collections published before 1923 are also available online through Google Books.

Research by topic or time period
The Roosevelt collection Subject File, accessible at Houghton Library, can help answer questions on specific aspects of Roosevelt’s life, such as “Teddy Bears,” “Rough Riders,” “Health,” “Quotations,” and “Big Stick.” Files also exist for members of the Roosevelt family and individuals connected with Roosevelt. A list of subject files is available from reading room staff or the Roosevelt curator.

An unpublished chronology detailing every day in Roosevelt’s life can be accessed through the Roosevelt curator (TRC-CR-1). The chronology is ideal for locating where Roosevelt was (and what he was doing) on any given day. To determine when Roosevelt was in a town or city, an unpublished place index, on card catalog cards, can also be accessed through the curator (TR-CR-3).

The Dictionary Catalog and Shelflist is a published catalog of the contents of the Roosevelt collection to 1970. The DCSL can be accessed at Houghton and in the Widener stacks; the list is also available online.

Researchers are welcome to contact the curator of the collection for assistance finding material.

Return to Top

How to Find Material

There is no single database that can be searched for material in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection; both HOLLIS (for books and single manuscripts/objects) and OASIS (for collections) will help in locating material.

A third resource for locating material is the Dictionary Catalog and Shelflist, a published catalog of the contents of the Roosevelt collection to 1970. The DCSL can be accessed at Houghton and in the Widener stacks; the list is also available online.  Material listed in the DCSL is not always replicated in HOLLIS.

Finding books
To find books and published resources, search HOLLIS by keyword or subject. Searches can be limited to books at Houghton or Widener libraries. Books and other print materials in both collections begin with the call number “Roosevelt.” To limit a HOLLIS search to just material in the Roosevelt collection, click on “Advanced Search” and choose “Theodore Roosevelt Collection” from the “location” drop-down menu. To limit a HOLLIS Classic search to just material in the Roosevelt collection, choose “other call number” from the menu, and type “Roosevelt,” along with any other search terms or parameters.

Finding manuscripts
To browse cataloged manuscript material, go to OASIS, click on “Browse finding aids” on the red bar at the top of the screen. Choose “Theodore Roosevelt Collection” from the “Limit by repository” drop-down menu, and click “Go” (don’t type anything in the “Jump To” box). A list of all the finding aids for individual collections of manuscript material in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection will come up. Click on any of the finding aids listed, and the full finding aid will appear in a new tab or browser window. Scroll through each finding aid, or perform a “ctl+f” search to locate a specific name or title within the finding aid.

To search through cataloged manuscript material for a particular individual, go to OASIS, and in the search bar, type an inverted name in quotation marks (i.e. “Roosevelt, Edith”) and click “search.” (Please note that women are usually listed under their married names, even if a letter or other manuscript was written before their marriage. Maiden names are listed in parentheses, such as “Roosevelt, Alice Hathaway (Lee)” or “Longworth, Alice (Roosevelt)”.) A list of finding aids will appear containing material relating to that individual. Click on “Summary” to quickly view the item relating to that individual, or click on “Full finding aid” to view the list of the entire collection. When searching in OASIS, click the checkbox labeled “Limit to finding aids with digital content (images, audio, etc.)” to locate collections containing links to web-accessible digital material.

Not all manuscripts in the collection are cataloged and listed on OASIS. To find material in uncataloged collections, contact the Roosevelt curator or visit the Houghton reading room.

Finding photographs
Cataloged photographs have been digitized and can be searched or browsed in VIA. To limit a search to images from the collection, choose “Theodore Roosevelt Collection” from the “Limit to” drop-down menu. Photographs can be searched by keyword or by specific names, places, or subjects. See Photographs for links to collection photographs by specific time period.

Not all photographs in the collection have been cataloged and digitized. For help finding additional images, contact the Roosevelt curator.

Finding other resources
To find other resources in the Theodore Roosevelt collection, such as cartoons, ephemera, newspaper clippings, sheet music, artifacts, and other material, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection curator.

Return to Top

Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. Diaries and notebooks, 1868-1914. MS Am 1454.55 (5). Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.

Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. Diaries and notebooks, 1868-1914. MS Am 1454.55 (5). Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.


Personal papers (27,000 items) include TR’s childhood and travel diaries; juvenilia; personal pre-presidential scrapbooks; speech, article, and book drafts; and letters, chiefly to his family: parents, sisters Anna Roosevelt Cowles and Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, wives Alice and Edith, and children, notably his son Kermit and daughter Ethel. Additional Roosevelt family correspondence and diaries are found in the papers of both sisters, TR’s 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 TR have been digitized; links to digitized material can be found within OASIS (see Finding Manuscripts above).

Return to Top

Archival Resources

Other primary source materials include:

  • a chronological file of speech texts
  • interviews with Roosevelt’s contemporaries
  • research notes and book drafts of TR 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)

Return to Top

Printed Works

The book collection (over 14,000 volumes) constitutes the Roosevelt class, shelved mainly in Widener Library. It is maintained to be as comprehensive a set as possible of published writings by and about Theodore Roosevelt.

TR’s own works include collected sets, individual editions, letters, diaries, speeches, articles, editorials, contributions to books, books with TR forewords or introductions, anthologies, and translations.

Secondary works include reviews of TR's writings, bibliographies, general and special biographies, reminiscences of contemporaries, books dedicated to TR, works by and about members of the Roosevelt family, contemporary documentation and later treatments of each stage of TR's career, memorial publications, fiction, poetry, drama, biographies of associates and other contemporaries, related works of American history, histories and publications of American political parties, and files of contemporary periodicals.

Formats include monographs, dissertations, pamphlets, periodical files and articles, society publications, news clippings, and printed ephemera generally.

Finding material in the Widener collection
It’s easiest to browse or search material in the collection using HOLLIS Classic. Choose “Expanded Search” at the top of the page, and choose “Other call number” in one of the drop-down menus. Type “Roosevelt” in the corresponding search box. Enter any other search information in the remaining search boxes. From the “Location” menu, choose “Widener Library”. (The same search works for material in Houghton Library; choose “Houghton Library” from the location menu instead, or in addition to, Widener Library). Click “Search.”

The Widener portion of the TR collection is located on level 2 West. Access to the Widener stacks requires a Harvard ID or a Widener stacks pass, accessible through the Privileges Office in Widener Library. Contact the TR curator (e-mail) for more information on access.

Note that many items relating to Roosevelt and the Progressive Era may not necessarily be cataloged and shelved with the TR collection; a general search through the entirety of Harvard’s holdings will bring more results, depending on the research topic.

Return to Top

Photographs and Other Visual Resources

Image of speech draft

Frances Benjamin Johnson (photographer). Archie and Quentin Roosevelt with White House police officers, 1902. Roosevelt 545-015, Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

A collection of over 11,000 photographs document TR’s public and private life, family, homes, and memorials, with particularly extensive background on the Dakota ranching years (1880s), the Spanish-American War, the African safari of 1909–1910, and the South American expedition of 1913–1914. There are formal portraits, newsreel stills, family and souvenir albums, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, panoramic views, and lantern slides. Picture files also include lithographs, blueprints, drawings, and watercolors.

Many of the images in the collection have been digitized (up to about 1910). See Finding Photographs, or use the links in the following list:

General to 1905 inaugural

Childhood and youth, 1858-1880

Ranching in Dakota, 1883-1886

War of 1898

Pre-presidential political career, 1881-1901

Presidency, 1901-1909

Post-presidential years, 1909-1919


A collection of over four thousand political cartoons spanning 35 years of TR’s public career are found as anthologies, periodical runs, periodical and newspaper clippings and clipping scrapbooks, and original drawings. Consult the curator for information on access.

Return to Top


Printed ephemera include campaign literature, broadsides, and newspaper clippings in mounted, collected, and scrapbook form. (For color digital images of Theodore Roosevelt's personal clipping scrapbooks, 1881-1899, consult OASIS and find record: AAA0783.) There are files of diplomas and certificates, sheet music, picture postcards, invitations, programs, banquet menus, campaign buttons and ribbons, and other souvenir artifacts.

For further details consult the HOLLIS catalog
Theodore Roosevelt Collection: ephemera

Return to Top

Collection Publications

Published in 1998 and still available ($30): Pocket Diary, 1898: Theodore Roosevelt's Private Account of the War with Spain; a Facsimile Edition of the Manuscript Accompanied by Extracts from His Published Recollections and Illustrated with Photographs. Edited by Wallace Finley Dailey. Foreword by Tweed Roosevelt. Introduction by John Morton Blum.

Orders for all collection publications should be addressed to the curator via e-mail.

Return to Top

Reproductions and Permissions

Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. Diaries and notebooks, 1868-1914. MS Am 1454.55 (5). Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.

T.W. Ingersoll (photographer). TR in Medora, North Dakota, 1885. Roosevelt 520.14-007, Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

See the Reproductions and Permissons web page for information about ordering reproductions and requesting permission to publish or display material.

All of TR’s written work, in manuscript or published form, is in the public domain. The work of other family members may still be under copyright; consult the curator for detailed information. 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 TR’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.”

Contact the collection curator via e-mail with any questions.

Return to Top

Roosevelt, Theodore, Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.


Occupied Cuba, 1898-1902 : Photographs from the Theodore Roosevelt Collection. will be on exhibition in the Theodore Roosevelt Gallery in Pusey Library from February 18-December 31, 2015.

See Past Exhibitions for more details.

Return to Top

Other Resources

Manuscript Division, Library of Congress
The Harvard collection complements the Theodore Roosevelt Papers at the Library of Congress, which has the TR presidential collection (letterpress copies of outgoing mail and incoming mail—largely official and presidential or postpresidential, presidential scrapbooks and appointment diaries, and diaries for 1878–1884, all available on microfilm at Harvard); papers of TR’s children Alice Longworth, Theodore, Jr., and Kermit, and additional papers of Archibald; also some early Roosevelt materials. Papers of TR’s brother Elliott are at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library at Hyde Park, N.Y. See the finding aid for the LC collection for more information.

Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University
The Theodore Roosevelt Center has created a presidential digital library, which serves as a depository for Roosevelt-related documents, photographs, and ephemera. Partnerships with the Library of Congress, Harvard College Library, and the National Park Service have enabled the collections of those libraries to be made available digitally. The entire Library of Congress microfilm has already been digitized, as well as a portion of Harvard’s Theodore Roosevelt Collection, as well as items from the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace, Sagamore Hill, Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural, Theodore Roosevelt Island, Mount Rushmore, and Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Thousands of items are already available in the digital library, and newly cataloged materials are added on a weekly basis.

Roosevelt, Theodore, 1858-1919. Diaries and notebooks, 1868-1914. MS Am 1454.55 (5). Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.

TR in sculling gear while an undergraduate at Harvard, ca. 1877. Roosevelt 520.12-002. Theodore Roosevelt Collection

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site
The home of Theodore Roosevelt from 1885 until his death in 1919, the Sagamore Hill Historic Site offers guided tours as well as special events and programs throughout the year.

Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace
The childhood home of TR, reconstructed after his death, offers guided tours throughout the year.

Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historical Site
Following the assassination of President McKinley in Buffalo, NY, Vice President Theodore Roosevelt took the oath of office at this house on September 14, 1901. The site is now available for tours.

Pine Knot
Theodore and Edith Roosevelt purchased this small cabin in the Virginia woods in 1905 to use as a retreat from their busy lives in Washington. The house is now available by appointment for tours.

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
TR 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 TR’s Elkhorn Ranch stood, as well as his first ranch cabin, and is open year-round.

Theodore Roosevelt Association
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.

Return to Top


Contact the curator with questions via e-mail, or call 617-495-2449.

Return to Top