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Library

The TR Presidential Library will be a presidential archive, museum, convening space, and research center dedicated to one of the most significant figures in U.S. history.

[A]mong those men whom I have known the love of books and the love of outdoors, in their highest expressions, have usually gone hand in hand.
— Theodore Roosevelt

 

The Library

Presidential papers and artifacts have been preserved in Presidential Libraries since the 1930s, when the United States government took responsibility to make them available to the American people. In Theodore Roosevelt’s time, such papers were considered the President’s personal property. As a result, his letters, diaries, photographs, and other media are scattered across the globe. It has been difficult, if not impossible, for scholars and citizens to immerse themselves in the whole Roosevelt.

 
John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute

 

History

Over the past decade the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University in western North Dakota has pursued the bold mission of digitizing and archiving all of TR’s letters, diaries, photographs, political cartoons, audio and video recordings, and other media. The digital library at www.theodorerooseveltcenter.org now contains nearly 40,000 Roosevelt items, freely available and fully searchable on any Internet-capable device. It is the largest collection of primary source materials - and growing.

 
Puck cartoon, March 27, 1912. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Puck cartoon, March 27, 1912. Courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Postcard of Ansley Wilcox House where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

Postcard of Ansley Wilcox House where Theodore Roosevelt was inaugurated. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

"My hat is in the ring" pin, 1912. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

"My hat is in the ring" pin, 1912. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

Razor commemorating TR's accession to the presidency in 1901. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

Razor commemorating TR's accession to the presidency in 1901. Courtesy of Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.

TR's diary entry on the death of his wife Alice. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Manuscripts Division.

TR's diary entry on the death of his wife Alice. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Manuscripts Division.

Sheet music from the Gregory A. Wynn Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

Sheet music from the Gregory A. Wynn Theodore Roosevelt Collection.

Stereograph of Roosevelt speaking in Keokuk, Iowa, 1903. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and PhotographsDivision.

Stereograph of Roosevelt speaking in Keokuk, Iowa, 1903. Courtesy of the Library of Congress Prints and PhotographsDivision.

 

From Digital to Physical

The success of the Theodore Roosevelt Center’s work inspired the North Dakota State Legislature during its 2013 session to appropriate $12 million for the construction of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. The appropriation required that an additional $3 million be raised from non-state sources. In June 2014, the city of Dickinson, North Dakota, committed funds to meet the challenge. An Interpretive Master Plan was prepared by Hilferty & Associates of Ohio, and a new independent nonprofit organization, the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF), was formed to bring the project to fruition.

The TRPLF is now in the process of designing the Library, the 27-acre site in Dickinson, and the exhibits through which it will provide rare insight into Roosevelt’s life, character, and legacy. The Presidential Library will be more than a building or a collection of buildings. The campus will include a convening center and research facility, a museum, and landscaping that invites the visitor into the out-of-doors. It will also feature an authentic re-creation of the Elkhorn Ranch cabin.

The TRPLF has retained M. A. Mortenson Company to oversee all elements of design and construction. The Foundation is undertaking a national capital campaign with a preliminary fund-raising goal of $85 million.

 

Designing the Building

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In early 2016, JLG Architects of Dickinson created conceptual drawings to inspire the imagination and to illustrate the potential of the site. These drawings are merely conceptual and the finished building is likely to look significantly different. However, the drawings signal the possibilities for designing a facility that is unique and interesting in its own right, in addition to the exhibits inside and the natural environment around it.

JLG Architects have been chosen as the Architect of Record, and will work closely with landscape architect and museum design firms to develop an overall plan for the buildings, grounds, and landscaping of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.

 
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Rise to the Presidency

"I rose like a rocket," Roosevelt proclaimed about his political career. As a Presidential Library, the facility will feature Roosevelt's actions as President and his enduring influence on American life.

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Outdoors and Indoors

Chapter IX of Roosevelt's Autobiography, quoted above, calls for an appreciation of both nature and the life of the mind. The Presidential Library will invite visitors to explore both the natural world and the world of study and scholarship Roosevelt so valued.

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As Much Westerner as Easterner

Western North Dakota was Roosevelt's second home. Many of the experiences he relished describing to others, in print and in person, happened during his ranching days in 1883 to 1887. The Presidential Library will tell these stories and investigate how his western experiences influenced his character, commitments, and success.

 
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