Theodore Roosevelt Association
The group is based in Oyster Bay, New York, where Roosevelt spent summers in his youth and would relocate in his adulthood.
The organization was founded in 1919 by friends and supporters of the president originally as the Permanent Memorial National Committee. Soon renamed the Roosevelt Memorial Association (RMA), it was chartered under Title 36 of the United States Code in 1920.
In parallel with the RMA was an organization for women, The Women's Theodore Roosevelt Association, that had been founded in 1919 by an act of the New York State Assembly. The organizations merged in 1956 under the current name.
The two ancestor organizations that eventually combined to form the modern TRA established four public sites: the reconstructed Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site in New York City, dedicated in 1923 and donated to the National Park Service in 1963; Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay, Long Island, New York, dedicated in 1928 and given to the people of Oyster Bay; Theodore Roosevelt Island in the Potomac River in Washington, D.C., given to the federal government in 1932; and Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's Oyster Bay home, which opened to the public in 1953 and, together with nearby Old Orchard, home to Theodore Roosevelt Jr., was donated to the National Park Service in 1963.
Along with the 1963 gifts of the Birthplace and Sagamore Hill properties, the TRA donated an endowment to help support both sites. The TRA currently owns Theodore Roosevelt's simple cabin, "Pine Knot", near Charlottesville, Virginia, which is managed by the Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation.
Theodore Roosevelt Collection
One of the two TRA ancestor organizations, the Roosevelt Memorial Association (RMA), collected manuscripts, diaries, correspondence and other items relating to Roosevelt's personal and professional life. In 1923, the RMA opened a research library at the Birthplace in New York City and continued to build its archive. During 1943, the organization presented the entire collection of materials to Harvard University, Roosevelt's alma mater. Today the Theodore Roosevelt Collection is housed in Harvard's Houghton Library. The collection continues to be a major resource for the study of the life and times of the 26th president of the United States.
Theodore Roosevelt Film Collection
The compilation of the film collection was originally embarked upon by the RMA in January 1919. Later, during 1924, the RMA formally established the Roosevelt Motion Picture Library housed at the Birthplace. The TRA donated the Roosevelt Motion Picture Library to the Library of Congress in 1962.
Leadership of the TRA
Led in the years 1919-1957 by Secretary and Director Hermann Hagedorn (1882-1964), the Association engaged in a wide spectrum of programs and activities to preserve Roosevelt's memory. Dr. John Allen Gable served as executive director from 1974 until his sudden death in early 2005. After interim appointments, the TRA's leadership decided to expand and modernize the organization and hired James Bruns as Director to implement an organizational growth strategy. Bruns was the former President and CEO of the Atlanta History Center (AHC) and while there had a quite successful tenure developing the museum's physical and financial resources as well as raising almost 30 million dollars. Before the AHC position, Bruns had worked for a number of years at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., where he oversaw the building of the National Postal Museum and also raised hundreds of millions of dollars for various projects. Bruns was let go from the TRA in 2009, after failing to get a proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Center/Museum (see below) off the ground.
In recent years, the organization's endeavors included creation and maintenance of About Theodore Roosevelt, the TRA web site at http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org, which has been criticized by scholars as hagiographic and hard to navigate. The organization also conducts the Theodore RooseveltR Police Awards (given in New York, Dallas, Boston, and Nashville to police officers who have overcome handicaps), and the Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear program, which each year gives teddy bears to hospitalized children in New York City and Nashville during the December Holiday season. The TRA also publishes a quarterly journal, conducts occasional historical and educational conferences, and sponsors public speaking contests for high school students in New York.
Annual meetings of the Theodore Roosevelt Association - held near TR's October 27 birthday - occur generally in places that are somehow associated with TR, such as Boston/Cambridge, where he attended college and met his first wife; New York/Oyster Bay, where he lived most of his life; Norfolk, around the USS Theodore Roosevelt; Washington, where he worked as Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Vice President and President; Atlanta, where his mother grew up; and even the Netherlands, where the Roosevelts originated. The annual dinner frequently includes the awarding of the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal. Annual meetings often include lectures on TR, visits to Roosevelt-related sites, and silent auctions and bartering/selling of TR collectibles by collector members of the association.
Proposed Presidential Center/Museum
Press announcements in March 2007 concerning the appointment of James Bruns as president of the TRA noted a plan to build a museum and research center dedicated to the 26th president. In Oyster Bay, where the project was proposed to be built on a site popularly known as "Firemens Field", local debate was strenuous. A citizens group, the Coalition to Save Firemen's Field, was formed to defend the proposed site of the new museum from development. Many residents cited grave concerns over increased traffic to the museum over two-lane roads for a five-mile perimeter around the proposed site; roads that were already frequently choked with traffic jams. Others noted redundancy with the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, former home of the President, and the adjacent Old Orchard Museum, housing an impressive multimedia museum dedicated to TR. After failing to gain the necessary political and financial support, the Theodore Roosevelt Association abandoned the project in 2009.
Another attempt is being made in North Dakota.
Members of the TRA board
TR's great-grandson Tweed Roosevelt serves as the organization's president as of 2010. He is joined on the board and in the association by members from a wide variety of walks of life, and numerous members of the Roosevelt family, including great-grandson Mark Ames, great-granddaughter Susan Roosevelt Weld, great-great-grandson Simon Roosevelt, great-grandson Theodore Roosevelt IV, and several cousins. Other members include but are not limited to those in finance, the judicial/legal arenas, the military, and teaching.
Interests of the membership are as varied as were Theodore Roosevelt's own interests. Members include Rough Rider fans, political memorabilia collectors, and Theodore Roosevelt impersonators. Some members join simply because they enjoy "Teddy" bears.
Membership in the Association includes a subscription to the quarterly TRA Journal, and invitations to association functions. Members also receive free admission to Sagamore Hill in Oyster Bay and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in Manhattan, upon presentation of their membership cards.
The organization also maintains an lively Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Theodore-Roosevelt-Association/41852696878
- "Roosevelt Collection at Harvard University". Hcl.harvard.edu. 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "Library of Congress Roosevelt Collection". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "Library of Congress on the Roosevelt Picture Library". Memory.loc.gov. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- Press notice of the death of Dr. John Gable Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
- Debra DeRuyver, Jennifer Evans (2004-01-12). "Review of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Web Site by Rich Hephner of the Public History Resource Center". Publichistory.org. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "Theodore Roosevelt Association". Theodoreroosevelt.org. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- "November 2007 Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot Article". Antonnews.com. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2011-10-31.
- http://www.savefiremensfield.org/ Coalition to Save Firemen's Field
- http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org Theodore Roosevelt Association Official Site
- http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/collections/troosevelt_film/ Library of Congress - Theodore Roosevelt on Film
- http://www.publichistory.org/reviews/View_Review.asp?DBID=100 Review of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Web Site by Rich Hephner of the Public History Resource Center