August 30, 2010
Over the summer, the Theodore Roosevelt Center had four remote interns who worked primarily on cataloging parts of the collection. At the end of the summer, I asked them to write a blog entry about their experience. This is the first in the series.
My Dear Mr. President:
For the last two months, I have had the pleasure of cataloging many of the letters sent to you from various individuals associated with your administration in the year 1903. Some were not sent directly to you, but to one of your secretaries, or to one of the many cabinet members appointed by you or President McKinley. I had no idea the United States Post Office would have so many political crimes and offenses as indicated by the many letters from your Postmaster General Henry Clay Payne. Nor did I realize that the treatment of Native Americans would still be such an issue at the turn of the century as shown by the letters sent to Secretary of the Interior Ethan Allen Hitchcock concerning conditions on Indian reservations. Probably the most difficult part of my job was trying to read letters that were handwritten, not to mention two that were in French! I also had to re-visit world geography to clarify countries in my cataloging letters from foreign ambassadors and leaders. While I did not read any letters written by you, I think I have some idea of your character and intelligence due to the diction of the letters conveying respect and admiration from many notable individuals. I will conclude this letter to you with the content of a quote sent to you by the writer Edward S. Martin that I especially liked. In his letter he remarked what a good father you were, and how you liked to play with your boys. He also included these words from a tract of his own to share with you:
After all, the saddest thing that can happen to a man
is to carry no burden. To be bent under too great a
load is bad, to be crushed lamentable, but even in
that there are possibilities that are glorious. But to
carry no load at all—there is nothing in that.—No
one seems to arrive at any goal really worth reaching
in this world who does [not] come to it heavy laden.
[Editor's note: the above is copied from the original document directly. It seems to be missing a word in the last sentence. It has been added.]
You would be glad to know that through the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library, your letters will provide researchers and teachers with valuable primary documents so that future generations will better understand America during your administration. However, as a former history teacher myself, I believe these documents will serve to show that you were more than one of the faces on Mount Rushmore or a chapter in a history textbook, but a man who worked and played hard, struggled with complex issues, and loved his family and friends.
I sign this letter as so many writers within this collection have,
Very Truly Yours,
P.S. I would love to travel to Oyster Bay and Sagamore Hill for a visit.
Lynn Sheehy recently completed her M.L.I.S. degree at San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives. She lives in Susanville, California with her husband where she enjoys music, walking her dogs and researching historical subjects.