One thing I have always loved about archives is that I am never sure what stories I am going to find among their books and pages. In what can seem to be the most boring collections, you can always find a good story or a character among the pages to make your work that much more interesting.
The digital cataloging we do here at the Theodore Roosevelt Center affords the same opportunity of stumbling across a good story. The one I most recently found fascinating was among the pages of the Roosevelt family albums. These are two scrapbooks we received from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs division. These scrapbooks were assembled and kept by Eleanor Butler Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt Jr.’s wife. The albums are full of Roosevelt and Alexander family photos and ephemera from pictures to letters to newspaper articles and cartoons.
Because the albums were kept by Eleanor, they clearly favor her role in the Roosevelt family. The second album especially focuses on her marriage to Ted and on their children. I found this particular letter funny and surprising. Eleanor’s own hand explains why her marriage was not recorded in the church annals; the Pastor was offended by her uncle!
Letter from Eleanor Butler Roosevelt to John Sutherland Bonnell, March 12, 1945. From Library of Congress Prints and Photographs
Transcription of letter:
March 12, 1945.
Dear Mrs. Roosevelt:
I am very sorry to have to report that the most diligent search has produced not a single line regarding your marriage in the records of our church. There is no entry at all for the date of June 20th, 1910. I regret very much to have to disappoint you in this matter.
Very sincerely yours,
John Sutherland Bonnell
We did not care for the pastor of the Church in 1910. Uncle Charles Alexander, vestryman, said there was no reason to have him perform the ceremony. I am afraid his feelings were hurt, & this was the result! E.B.R