A Publication of the Public Library Association Public Libraries Online

Library of Congress Digitizes Vast Teddy Roosevelt Collection

by on November 21, 2018

Teddy Roosevelt was a complicated president. Whether he was founding national parks, fighting along with his rough-riders in Cuba, or extending the Philippine-American War to declare victory on July 4th, one thing can’t be denied, the man was prolific. How prolific you may be wondering to yourself. Well, if you ask any of the Library of Congress archivists and they break down in tears by the end of the paragraph you’ll understand. The Library of Congress (LOC) has just finished digitizing its Teddy Roosevelt Collection. The Roosevelt collection is the  largest presidential archival collection held by the LOC, at 276,000 documents, which have been scanned into 461,000 images. The bulk of the collection was a personal gift from President Roosevelt to Herbert Putnam (Librarian of Congress 1899-1939).

Thanks to the tireless work of Library of Congress archivists anyone with internet access can now browse the Theodore Roosevelt papers archival collection. The collection is organized in a series of sixteen topics based on the content of the documents, including everything from personal diaries to executive orders and speeches. The Roosevelt collection was previously available on microfilm (though more recent additions to the collection were scanned and digitized only as a part of the digitizing effort). The collection has been put together with the help of the The Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University in North Dakota (which has a sizeable collection of its own), and The Harvard University Library. This joint effort brings interlibrary loaning to a new level.

The compiling of this collection is part of the LOC’s ‘2019-2023 Strategic Plan of the Library of Congress’ which aims to make Library of Congress resources more readily available. The five year plan aims at broadening access to the resources offered by the Library of Congress through digitization. The plan also hopes to make resources not just more available, but also more useable, by anyone who is interested in the LOC’s offerings. As the organization’s mission statement puts it -through the words of Herbert Putnam – “A book used is fulfilling a higher purpose than a book which is merely preserved.”