The TR Presidential Library will comprise a museum, convening space, archive, and research center dedicated to one of the most significant figures in U.S. history.
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.
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 more than 50,000 Roosevelt items, freely available and fully searchable on any Internet-capable device. It is the largest collection of primary source materials - and growing.
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.