Frequently Asked Questions
About the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library
Why doesn’t Theodore Roosevelt already have a presidential library?
Not all American presidents have presidential libraries. In fact, only presidents since Herbert Hoover have presidential libraries administered by the National Archives and Records Administration. As of 2016, there are 13 such libraries. Several other, independent presidential libraries exist, most notably the Jefferson library at Monticello and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
As one of the best-loved and best-regarded presidents in American history, Theodore Roosevelt certainly deserves a national presidential library.
What is the relationship between the Theodore Roosevelt Center and the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library?
The vision for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library started with the work of the Theodore Roosevelt Center. The Center’s mission is to digitize all that represents TR: correspondence, diaries, photographs, political cartoons, films, audio clips, and other media. The digitization of all things Roosevelt is vital to the mission of the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library.
How long will it take to complete the digitization of the Roosevelt papers?
This is a monumental project. The work of the Theodore Roosevelt Center is ongoing, and depends largely on funding. To date, approximately 165,000 documents have been digitized, with over 50,000 processed and available online. With current resources and staffing levels, the project will take at least a decade to complete, and perhaps longer.
What happens at a Presidential Library?
Typically, a presidential library consists of two “wings.” One is the presidential papers archive, where documents associated with that president are stored, cataloged, and interpreted. The other is a public museum that examines the life and times of the president in question, with a particular focus on his (or her) presidency.
The presidential archive is the reason these national libraries exist, and that is why they are called presidential libraries rather than presidential museums. The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library archive will be mostly electronic, since the physical Roosevelt papers have long since been deposited with institutions like the Library of Congress. The work that archivists do is important, and visitors to the Presidential Library will be able to learn about and benefit from it.
The museum will explore Roosevelt’s entire life—using physical objects, framed documents, quotations, films, touch-screen kiosks, timelines, and more. The Presidential Library will also host events—lectures, symposia, seminars, teacher institutes, and other public activities.
What is the community and economic impact?
The region will have a new hub for activities, and an additional economic engine. The TRPL will be a rare source of pride for all North Dakotans.
The Presidential Library will be a destination attraction for regional, national, and international travelers. The estimated 100,000 visitors expected to be drawn every year include Presidential Library and Roosevelt admirers, family groups, tourists, and bus tours. Local payroll is projected to be more than $2 million annually.
What story will be told?
Theodore Roosevelt’s life outside the presidency is as interesting as his presidential years. The Presidential Library will tell the story of his asthmatic childhood, his early political fights in New York City, his western adventures, his exploits during the Spanish-American War, the building of the Panama Canal, his conservation actions and legacy, the worldwide adventures of his life after the presidency, and more.
What can the visitor expect?
In the reconstructed Elkhorn Ranch cabin, the visitor will feel like Theodore Roosevelt may have just walked out to check the cattle and will return at any moment. Similarly, in the reading room, perhaps TR has been called away by his wife Edith to discuss the guest list for dinner or to arbitrate some scrape the children have gotten into, but his open book awaits his return.
The visitor experience will be engaging, entertaining, challenging, and inspiring for Presidential Library patrons at all levels. Live interpreters will make history relevant to visitors’ lives. Exhibits will include cutting-edge presentations alongside traditional displays of authentic and period artifacts.
How many people do you expect to visit the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library per year?
Consultants for the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation have evaluated numerous considerations, including visitation at TRNP, Mount Rushmore, the North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck, and visitation to other presidential libraries. It is estimated that more than 100,000 people will visit the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library each year.
When will the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library open?
The Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library Foundation is undertaking an ambitious capital campaign to fund this endeavor and a decision as to when to begin construction of the presidential library building will be made as the campaign develops.
How much will it cost?
The overall cost of the project has not yet been finalized. The comprehensive vision for the project includes a main facility and substantial endowment to secure long-term sustainability.