Houghton Library

Theodore Roosevelt Collection E-Newsletter

Number 5
October 2010

Wallace Finley Dailey, Curator
Address: Houghton Library/Harvard University/Cambridge MA  02138
Telephone: 617.384.7938
Fax: 617.495.1376
E-mail: wfdailey@fas.harvard.edu

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 manuscripts, archival resources, printed works, pictures, and ephemera relating to both his personal and professional life.

PHOTOGRAPHS: In the project that has been funded by Ratus Lee Kelly, AB 1955, LLB 1958, the collection's images are scanned after sorting and detailed description by Houghton cataloger Susan Wyssen. During the past year, the following five group records have been added to the VIA database, representing 810 images for a cumulative total of 3360 in 31 groups:

Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: pre-presidential political career, 1881-1901

Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency--first term, 1901-1902

Theodore Roosevelt in New England, 1902

Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency--first term, 1903-1904 (link not yet available: access VIA and search: olvgroup12374)

Theodore Roosevelt Collection photographs: presidency--second term, 1905 (link not yet available: access VIA and search: olvgroup12406)

The Collection webpage has been modified so that the pictures link brings up a complete list of VIA groups, each in turn linked to its own record.

A new version of HOLLIS called AquaBrowser allows for searching of images in VIA, but is recommended for general searches for specific topics. Systematic investigation of the Collection's images is still best pursued in the structured environment of VIA groups. (OASIS finding aids, including the printed works catalog supplement, are now also searchable (by keyword) through this tool, though again, perusal of Collection manuscript holdings can probably be undertaken more easily through OASIS itself.)

PRINTED WORKS: Another fifty works have been added to the Collection's printed works catalog supplement (works added/recataloged since 1970) as found in OASIS. Numbered AAA1651-1700, they may be searched (edit/find) record by record for a survey of recent acquisitions: mostly monographs, but including two important archival files not previously processed-- reference files and correspondence of journalist and TR Progressive associate John Callan O'Laughlin (AAA1697), and papers of Outlook publisher Lawrence Abbott relating to TR's tenure as contributing editor (AAA1698).

The original Collection catalog, primarily for printed works and more inclusive than HOLLIS (the so-called Roosevelt class, chiefly kept in Widener, with the rarer and archival items in Houghton), came to Harvard on cards with the Collection itself. In 1970 the cards were published in facsimile in five volumes by then curator Gregory Wilson: 60,000 entries representing an estimated 12,000 works in 2800 pages. Long available for sale (see the Collection website under: Guides and Collection publications), the Dictionary Catalogue and Shelflist is now online.

It should be emphasized that the catalog has not been digitized in the true sense of the word. Only the images of the pages are available, not searchable text as in the case of Google Books. However, the catalog was always provided with exhaustive added entries and subject headings to index the contents.  To avoid undue delay once the catalog had been scanned, it has been put up with a minimal table of contents to guide users through the five volumes worth of pages. A more closely spaced index is in preparation so that users will find themselves within three to four pages of the desired opening.  A word of advice: the sequence page box should be used as opposed to the chart of pages in the left-hand margin, to avoid having to resize the image each time a new page comes up. For most purposes the next-to-smallest size should be satisfactorily visible. Links to the catalog have been added on the Collection website, in the OASIS supplement, and in the HOLLIS collection-level record for books, pamphlets, and periodicals.

Appropriately enough, last year saw the completion of a seventeen-year project to rebind all printed ephemera in the Widener portion of the Roosevelt class: the original pamphlet bindings had deteriorated to the point of endangering the contents. Most of the nearly four thousand items thus treated were processed in the last decade in Widener's Conservation Laboratory under the supervision of College Library collections conservator Ethel Hellman. The cost of rehousing the last 1400 items was underwritten by Ratus Lee Kelly.

PENDING PROJECTS: Harvard has recently concluded an agreement with Dickinson (N.D.) State University under which Dickinson will sponsor the creation at Harvard of electronic images of selected items from the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, to be displayed on Dickinson’s website as part of the Theodore Roosevelt Center's Digital Library, and on Harvard’s website among the appropriate catalog listings in HOLLIS, OASIS, and VIA.

During the current fiscal year, all manuscripts in Houghton Library created by Theodore Roosevelt will be scanned (including those not in the Collection itself), as well as TR’s personal clipping scrapbooks, 1881-1899. (Presidential scrapbooks are with his papers at the Library of Congress.) Next to be scanned will be the Collection’s cartoon files, followed possibly by the Progressive Party archives and, from Widener holdings, printed ephemera from the Roosevelt class.

THEODORE ROOSEVELT GALLERY: The exhibition of Keppler cartoons from Puck, last displayed in 2003, has returned to be on view through September 2011.

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