restricted access Bibliographic Essay
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The literature on Theodore Roosevelt is vast and growing each year. There is not enough space in this brief essay to mention all the biographies of him that say something about Edith Roosevelt. I have concentrated on the volumes I found most useful for understanding her role as first lady. The absence of any particular book on Theodore Roosevelt should not be construed as a negative comment on its quality. In writing this essay, I had to be very selective. In addition to all the other activities she pursued as first lady, Edith Kermit Roosevelt was a prodigious letter writer. She maintained an active correspondence with members of her family and close friends. As a result, her letters are contained in any number of manuscript collections in various repositories. For an excellent overview, with a detailed listing of where her letters can be found, see the National First Ladies Library online guide to the Manuscripts for: Edith Roosevelt at The place to begin is with the Theodore Roosevelt Papers at the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (hereafter LC). Though few letters between the president and his wife have survived, there are some in his papers. There are also letters to the first lady, some of her outgoing correspondence, and letters from her secretary, Isabelle Hagner, and presidential aides on her behalf. Eventually, all of these documents will be digitized through the innovative Theodore Roosevelt Collection at Dickinson State University in North Dakota. For the purposes of this book, the most useful group of Edith Roosevelt letters were the several letters she sent each week to her son Kermit at prep school and college contained in the Kermit Roosevelt Papers (LC). She was especially close to Kermit and shared with him her candid opinions on the books she read, the people she met, and her views on racial matters. The hundreds of letters are a running guide to her life in the White House. The papers of Theodore Roosevelt , Jr. (LC) are much less helpful in that regard for the White House period. The Alice Roosevelt Longworth Papers have useful Edith Roosevelt items. The Theodore Roosevelt Collection at the Houghton Library at Harvard is of equal importance to the student of Edith Roosevelt. The Theodore Roosevelt Papers have extensive family correspondence. The papers of Edith’s daughter, B I B L I O G R A P H I C E S S AY 157 } { Ethel Roosevelt Derby, her sister-in-law, Anna Roosevelt Cowles, and her sisterin -law, Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, are rich in Edith Roosevelt letters. Some of the key letters are being digitized. I was only able to sample these collections through the assistance of a researcher, Heather Merrill. Through the kindness and courtesy of Stacy Cordery, I was able to obtain copies of Edith Roosevelt letters in the papers of Joanna Sturm, the granddaughter of Alice Roosevelt Longworth, and copies of the correspondence of Isabelle Hagner with the first lady and other members of the Roosevelt family in the Peter Hagner Collection, University of North Carolina Library. Isabelle Hagner ’s memoir of her White House years is available online from the White House Historical Society. The papers of Francis Warrington Dawson at the David Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University contain the fullest statement of Edith Roosevelt’s views on white supremacy. The Dawson Papers are also useful for his friendship with the Roosevelt family in the post-presidential period. Other collections with relevant Edith Roosevelt material include the Henry Adams Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; the Erastus Brainerd Papers, University of Washington, Seattle; the George B. Cortelyou Papers (LC); the William Dudley Foulke Papers (LC); the James R. Garfield Papers (LC); the Philip Jessup Papers about his biography of Elihu Root (LC); the Papers of Lord Lee of Fareham, Courtauld Institute, London; the Henry Cabot Lodge Papers, Massachusetts Historical Society; the William Howard Taft Papers (LC); and the Edward O. Wolcott Papers, Colorado Historical Society, Denver. Modern technology, which enables a researcher to access a much wider variety of newspapers for the era of Edith Roosevelt, proved especially valuable for this project. In addition to such national papers as the New York Times and the Washington Post, with their searchable files, the twin projects of “America’s Historical Newspapers” and “Chronicling America” brought many more newspapers into view. The coverage of Edith Roosevelt as first lady, the discussions of her activities, and the editorial comments about her...