Theodore Roosevelt Symposium addresses Roosevelt’s perspective on World War I

Theodore Roosevelt Symposium addresses Roosevelt’s perspective on World War I

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Scholars from the around the world will discuss Theodore Roosevelt’s views and influence on World War I during the 9th Annual Theodore Roosevelt Symposium Sept. 25-27 at Dickinson State University (DSU) and in Medora.

This year’s event features acclaimed speakers, a presidential debate, musical performances, a field trip to the Elkhorn Ranch, and interactive forums hosted by Clay Jenkinson, the Theodore Roosevelt humanities scholar at DSU. The event coincides with the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I. Although Roosevelt’s presidency had ended five years earlier, he called for military preparedness and for early entry into the Great War.

“Roosevelt’s clarion call echoed in his own family and reverberated throughout the nation and the world,” said Sharon Kilzer, project manager for the Theodore Roosevelt Center at DSU. “We will look at the roots of the crisis, Roosevelt’s response, his family’s participation, and views of the war from North Dakota and from Europe.”

Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, insisted his four sons participate in the war and watched with fascination and some disapproval as his daughter and daughters-in-law undertook nonviolent service roles in the war.

Geoffrey Wawro, professor of history at the University of North Texas and director of the UNT Military History Center, is the event’s keynote speaker. He will discuss material from his new book A Mad Catastrophe: The Outbreak of World War I and the Collapse of the Habsburg Empire. A Fulbright Scholar in Vienna for two years, Wawro is the co-editor of The Cambridge Military Histories, a series of monographs from Cambridge University Press.  He also serves on the History Book Club Review Board.  From 2000 to 2009, Wawro hosted several programs on The History Channel, including “Hardcover History,” “History's Business” and “History versus Hollywood.”

Other speakers include J. Lee Thompson, professor of history at Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, and R. Joshua Reyes, a park ranger at Sagamore Hill National Historic Site, the Roosevelt family home in Oyster Bay, New York. Also scheduled is Kimberly Porter, professor of history at the University of North Dakota and Hans Krabbendam, assistant director of the Roosevelt Study Center in the Netherlands.

A distinguished humanities scholar at Bismarck State College, Jenkinson is a columnist for the Bismarck Tribune and host of the weekly radio program, the “Thomas Jefferson Hour.”

For the past six years, the Theodore Roosevelt Center has gathered and digitized copies of all Roosevelt-related items, and now has more than 23,000 available at its website, including correspondence to and from Roosevelt, diary entries, notes, political cartoons, scrapbooks, newspaper columns and magazine articles by and about Roosevelt, speeches, and photographs. Visitors to the site 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.

In addition to these activities, the Theodore Roosevelt Center is working on a proposed Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library in Dickinson. The project has garnered a total of $20 million in funding from the state of North Dakota and the city of Dickinson, and an independent foundation has been incorporated to help raise additional support.

For information about the Theodore Roosevelt Symposium or to register, visit