Theodore Roosevelt's Network of Correspondents

Sep 05, 2017

This summer the TR Center has eight interns working across the U.S. and from Scotland. Each intern is producing a digital humanities project. Jessica Kincaid worked on a large-scale analysis of Theodore Roosevelt's correspondents.

In working with these materials throughout the summer, one thing that struck me as significant was the diverse set of individuals with which Theodore Roosevelt interacted, a circumstance that highlights his reputation as a skilled communicator and willing point of contact for various groups. Individuals writing to and receiving letters from Roosevelt ranged from avid naturalists to prominent members of clergy. As Roosevelt was an avid reader, many of these letters featured the topic of books and reading, and were often marked by a two-way exchange of recommendations and reflections. 

While a larger-scale analysis of Roosevelt’s correspondents would likely reveal some interesting patterns, it would prove to be an ambitious endeavor. In order to narrow the scope of the project, I thought it would be interesting to consider Roosevelt’s networks of correspondents from the perspective of influence as concentrated within a meaningful period of his life. So, I decided to filter the data in two ways (holding constant the format of the material, letters): by topic and date. I gathered all of Roosevelt’s correspondence related to the standard topical heading of “books and reading” within a two year period from 1910-1911, during which he published African Game Trails, an account of his experience as an American hunter-naturalist. The purpose of this structure was to discover the individuals who could possibly be considered “influential” in Roosevelt’s experience as an author during this time: with whom did he discuss books and reading with during the period leading up to the publication of his own work, and which individuals offered their opinions and recommendations related to reading in the wake of African Game Trails’ 1910 debut?

The project aims to display these individuals (with brief biographical information) in ways that uncover patterns: the gallery can be grouped by frequency of correspondence to gain a sense of influence or by category to highlight similarities and differences between networks of individuals. Each gallery entry links to the letters found in the digital library between the individual and Roosevelt during the relevant time period (1910-1911). 

To check out the visualization, download/save this json file, and upload it to the Palladio website as an “existing project.”

Posted by Jessica Kincaid on Sep 05, 2017 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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