City of Dickinson Backs Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

City of Dickinson Backs Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library, a project facilitated by Dickinson State University (DSU) advanced Monday with a total of up to $8 million in new funding committed by the city of Dickinson.

The Dickinson City Commission voted unanimously Monday to match a $3 million challenge from the North Dakota State Legislature, which laid the groundwork for the presidential library and museum. In addition, the city resolution provides for another $5 million if the state increases its support beyond the current appropriation of $12 million.

DSU’s Theodore Roosevelt Center is coordinating the project. The state’s appropriation was contingent on the university raising $3 million in non-state funds.

Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson said the city resolution signifies the prominence of the project.

“We believe the proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library is more than a $15 million proposition,” said Johnson. “We want to proactively support it. The project is especially significant to honor the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, who is recognized as one of America’s greatest presidents.”

DSU has worked diligently to respond to the state’s challenge. The university hired Hilferty & Associates of Athens, Ohio, to start preliminary exhibit and programming plans, evaluate sites, and set capital and operating budgets.

“This is a remarkable opportunity for the university, our community and all of North Dakota,” said D.C. Coston, president of DSU. “A presidential library is national and international in scope and impact.”

Sharon Kilzer, project manager of the Theodore Roosevelt Center, said the city of Dickinson’s support underscores a desire to build a substantial facility in honor of the former president. Roosevelt -- a naturalist, explorer, historian and politician -- served as U.S. president from 1901-1909 and ran for a third term. After the assassination of William McKinley, Roosevelt became the nation’s youngest president at age 42. He also received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1906 for his role in negotiating the Treaty of Portsmouth, which effectively ended the Russo-Japanese War.

Roosevelt died in 1919.

In addition to serving as a state legislator, police commissioner, governor and president, Roosevelt was an avid reader and prolific writer. With nearly 40 books and more than 150,000 letters to his credit, his personal and presidential papers are scattered in libraries and at other sites across the United States.

“For the past six years, the Theodore Roosevelt Center has been gathering and digitizing copies of all Roosevelt-related items,” said Kilzer. “This important documentary record is the foundation for telling the story of this man who lived with such zeal.”

Digitized items now number more than 21,000 and include correspondence to and from Roosevelt, diary entries, notes, political cartoons, scrapbooks, newspaper columns and magazine articles by and about Roosevelt, speeches, and photographs. Users can also view film clips and listen to audio recordings.

The center continually processes new findings. This past summer, the center staff and interns processed photographs and Puck cartoons from the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, a set of Roosevelt’s speeches and documents and photographs from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

DSU’s Theodore Roosevelt Center is creating an independent foundation as required by the Legislature. The Theodore Roosevelt Library Foundation’s responsibilities will include coordinating ongoing fundraising activities. The center is also hosting its 9th Annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium Sept. 25-27 on the DSU campus entitled, “Theodore Roosevelt and World War I.” For information, visit the center’s website at