Beyond Borglum: Finding TR in the Black Hills

If you set out in search of Theodore Roosevelt’s America, your travels would inevitably lead you to the Black Hills of South Dakota and the monumental image of Roosevelt carved on the face of Mount Rushmore by sculptor Gutzon Borglum.  After paying for parking, snapping a picture or two, pondering the faces for a short spell and buying the requisite t-shirt, you may consider your time with Roosevelt in South Dakota to be at an end, but Roosevelt can be found elsewhere in the Hills if you know where to look. In Rapid City, the gateway community to the Black Hills which promotes itself as the Ci ...

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A tip of the hat to Chittenden Locks and the Panama Canal

In honor of the centennial of the opening of the Panama Canal (August 15, 1914), considered by many as the greatest achievement of Theodore Roosevelt as president, the Washington State Chapter of the TRA (WATRA) held a special chapter visit and tour of the Washington Ship Canal and Chittenden Locks (often referred to as the Ballard Locks). The Panama Canal and the Chittenden Locks are often compared. They are both on the eastern rim of the Pacific Ocean, they both provide a transition for large ships between fresh and salt water, they were both finished in the early years of the twentieth cent ...

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Elliott Bulloch Roosevelt: A Fleeting Life of Suffering – and Inspiration

You approach the old graveyard with anticipation and trepidation. The slate steps descend in a narrow spiral to a small courtyard where the black gnats give an unwelcomed greeting. It’s a bright August day, but the graveyard is shaded by tall oaks and steamed by dense humidity. “There it is,” declares the sexton, almost proud of the small, churchlike mausoleum ahead of us, now decrepit. Like in the old movies, he flashes an oversized, brass skeleton key. He seems confident that it will unlock the crypt, and it does – on the first try. The heavy metal door creaks open, and sunlight rushes into ...

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Correspondance Frédéric Mistral – Théodore Roosevelt 1904

All students of the 26th presidency have noted Theodore Roosevelt’s immense culture and voracious reading. He was indeed a “literary fellow,” to use Katherine Joslin’s phrase in her recent Eccles Centre lecture at the British Library. The number of contemporary writers he knew and corresponded with is truly amazing. One of his most unexpected interests in foreign literature concerned Provençal poetry. He was aware of the renaissance of Provençal letters initiated by Frédéric Mistral (1830-1914) in the second half of the 19th century. A lexicographer and writer, Mistral founded the Félibrige wi ...

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Acquainted with the Roosevelts: TRAHA Travel Report

It was such an honor, but perhaps an even greater surprise, to be the recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt American History Award 2014, which included a trip to New York State. I had, previously to winning the award in March 2014, no idea that to win meant to travel, and to travel seemed a coincidentally appropriate price for an MA thesis on travel writing. Writing this report about my travels and experiences leaves me with the uncanny feeling of having figuratively come full circle. Because I had to plan my trip to New York State in June rather than later in the year as previous winners did, m ...

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Roosevelt in the Strangest Places

Ever since I began a research project to examine Theodore Roosevelt’s image in popular culture, I cannot help but see him everywhere. Even so, I hardly expected to find him on a political mural in Northern Ireland, let alone three such shrines. Painted murals in Northern Ireland adorn the façade of many buildings. They depict the country’s political and religious struggles, most often referring to the decades of violence that began in the 1960s. The murals typically portray one side’s perspective. Republican murals showcase nationalist heroes such as hunger striker Bobby Sands and IRA gunmen w ...

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TR and Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is a universal symbol of romance and love. But for Theodore Roosevelt, it would forever be a painful reminder of the loss of his mother, Martha, and first wife, Alice, who died within hours of each other on February 14, 1884. This twin tragedy is unthinkable in its scope and impact on a young man who seemed to have everything going for him. It is understandable that TR thought his life was all but over at this point and scratched a big X in his diary along with these poignant words, "The light has gone out of my life." Fortunately, not only for TR personally but also for the co ...

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Revisiting Ranching with Roosevelt

Much, if not most, of what we know about Theodore Roosevelt’s time in the Badlands of western North Dakota comes from his own considerable writings such as his Hunting Trips of a Ranchman (1885) and Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail (1888). Another valuable and underappreciated source about those days is Lincoln Lang’s 1926 Ranching with Roosevelt. Not only does Lang, who identifies himself as “a companion rancher”, give the reader anecdotes about and insights into the brief ranching days of Roosevelt, he also relays the history of the Badlands in the years after the New Yorker’s departure. In ...

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A Dutch View of Roosevelt’s New York

Early September 2013 I had the pleasure of traveling to New York as part of the Roosevelt Study Center’s Theodore Roosevelt American History Award. Together with my friend Kyra Fastenau I went to New York to receive an exclusive four-day tour of sites meaningful to the Roosevelt family. Laurence Pels of the Theodore Roosevelt Association was our host in Manhattan and Oyster Bay, and David Woolner of the Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt Institute hosted us in Hyde Park. We got a special tour at the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall at the American Museum of Natural History. Be it knowing all the b ...

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Myths Debunked: Sadly, Theodore Roosevelt never rode a moose

Many of Theodore Roosevelt’s adventures seem like something out of a tall tale: he survived an assassination attempt; nearly died while exploring the Amazonian jungle; and became the first president to drive a car and fly in a plane; among many others. Despite having been a larger-than-life figure, this is one thing that TR never did: In 1912, TR was campaigning as a promising third party presidential candidate for the newly created Progressive (or Bull Moose) Party. Political cartoons frequently used a moose to illustrate the party’s struggles and flaws, but perhaps none so creatively as a co ...

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