The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation (TRPLF) Board of Trustees today reversed an earlier decision to construct a new facility at Dickinson State University. Instead, it voted to focus on the creation of a world-class presidential library to be built at Theodore Roosevelt National Park near Medora, North Dakota.
During the Foundation’s March meeting, the Board of Trustees voted to construct two new facilities – one in Dickinson that would house the expanded digitization of Theodore Roosevelt’s papers; and a presidential library in Medora, North Dakota. Since then, the Board has explored new options that will allow the Foundation to more efficiently achieve its goal in reaching an international audience.
“North Dakota is being presented with a historic opportunity to be supported nationally as the location for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum,” said Governor Doug Burgum. “This opportunity is centered around the presence of Theodore Roosevelt National Park within our state’s borders – a park which holds the special designation of being the only national park to be named after a person. New information and exciting new collaboration opportunities are emerging from national partners such as the National Park Foundation and National Park Service, as well as national and local donors.
One of the key anchors that has helped attract this national attention is the work that has occurred with the support of state appropriations to the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University to digitize to date more than 50,000 Theodore Roosevelt documents and items. Today’s vote is a meaningful step toward enhancing those digitization efforts and building a presidential library worthy of the tremendous life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt.”
Bruce Pitts, chair of the Board of Trustees added, “In March, the Board made the best decision it could – and perhaps the only decision it could – based on the information we had at that time. However, it became hard to justify building a brand-new facility at Dickinson State University. The Board wants to be good stewards of Foundation funding, and refocusing on our efforts at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as well as advances in digital technology, will allow us to do that.”
There is a great deal of excitement about continuing the effort at Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Board member Marjorie Currey welcomed the change. Currey believes that focusing on the national park, along with funding toward accelerating digitization of Theodore Roosevelt’s presidential papers, will enhance the experience for scholars and the general public, ultimately leading to a much broader understanding of Theodore Roosevelt’s role in shaping American life and public policy.
Other board members agreed that focusing on the national park and enhancing digitization efforts makes good sense.
“Theodore Roosevelt National Park exemplifies the landscape that changed Theodore Roosevelt’s life. It will be a great site for the library and museum,” said Board member Niles Hushka. “The site can serve as a great base for telling the story of his life to the rest of the world. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the most prolific and dynamic characters in our nation’s history. We will have plenty of great material.”
Jay Clemens, a Board member from North Dakota with decades of experience working in Silicon Valley said, “Building a state-of-the-art online platform associated with the library will allow us to showcase the life and legacy of Theodore Roosevelt in ways that few can imagine, creating an educational experience that will reach around the globe and be relevant for decades. We are excited to collaborate with the educational, business and governmental sectors to create an actual and virtual library of which the entire region can be proud.”