We’re finally getting back to our series here on the Theodore Roosevelt blog to highlight our volunteers and what they bring to our digital library project. Our next volunteer to spotlight is Linda from North Dakota.
Linda was raised in Medora, North Dakota. She graduated from Dickinson State University with a degree in Business Administration and Computer Science. She has always been very involved with activities here at DSU as both a former employee and wife of our Fine and Performing Arts department chair. She has two grown children and one grandson. Besides volunteering for the TR Center and Theatre department, she likes to spend her spare time walking her dog, gardening, watching movies, camping and cheering on the Minnesota Vikings.
What motivated you to become a Theodore Roosevelt Center digital library volunteer?
I became interested in the TR Center and Symposium through my husband’s work at DSU and his membership on the symposium committee. I helped him with various projects and was introduced to Sharon Kilzer, TR Center Project Manager, and told her I would be happy to volunteer my time with anything she needed to get things going at the new center. I stuffed a few envelopes for her mass mailings at first and then she asked me to take her class, “Cataloging All Things Roosevelt.”
I should also state that my interest in Theodore Roosevelt dates back to my childhood, as I grew up in Medora and have lived in TR country my entire life. I worked summers for Theodore Roosevelt National Park and the North Dakota State Historical Society while attending Dickinson State University. Living in the area and hearing the TR stories, I took TR for granted. He was more of a “tourist attraction” than a real person in history to me. My father told me a story about my great-grandfather, Norman Lebo, who was a hunting guide and cook for Roosevelt. He also told a story of an evening that TR spent at my family’s ranch. The ranch was named Tee Pee Bottom Ranch and it is located south of Medora along the Little Missouri River. Thus, began my interest in all things TR.
What has been your favorite part of volunteering?
It has been a thrill to research and catalog letters that will soon be available to people all over the world. I also enjoy my cataloging sessions with the other volunteers. It is our time to delve into another era and discover together.
What has been the most challenging part of volunteering?
Probably the most challenging is finding the time, keeping up with the cataloging software changes, and the handwritten letters that are sometimes difficult to read.
Tell me your favorite “discovery” while cataloging?
My favorite discovery is a letter from Lord William Henry John North (the 11th Lord North) of Wroxton Abbey to President Roosevelt. Wroxton College, as it is called today, near Banbury, England, has offered the opportunity to college students worldwide to study there since the 1930s. Before that time, it was the ancestral home to the North family. Henry VIII took it from the Catholic Church and gave it to them in the 16th century. Dickinson State University has taken students there about every five years since the late 1980s. My husband was a chaperone for 19 Dickinson State University students in 2002. He spent one month studying Shakespeare along with his students. So, it is exciting for me to discover this letter and be able to connect Wroxton College to Theodore Roosevelt.
Detail of Letter from Lord North to Theodore Roosevelt written from Wroxton Abbey, October 30, 1903. From Library of Congress Manuscripts division.
You should enjoy the thrill of discovery, have patience to research, general computer knowledge, and be able to comprehend and accurately catalog documents. And, it doesn’t hurt to have a good pair of reading glasses!
What do you think a potential volunteer needs to have or to know to join the project?