In His Own Words: College Days

Oct 07, 2013

Life for Theodore Roosevelt at Harvard sounds very different than that of college students today. In this letter, a young TR describes one day of college life to his father.

“At half past seven my scout, having made the fire and blacked the boots calls me, and I get round to breakfast at eight. Only a few of the boys are at breakfast, most having spent the night in Boston. Our quarters now are nice and sunny, and the room is prettily papered and ornamented. For breakfast we have tea or coffee, hot biscuits, toast, chops or beef steak, and buckwheat cakes. After breakfast I study till ten, when the mail arrives and is eagerly inspected. From eleven to twelve there is a Latin recitation with a meek-eyed Professor who calls me Mr. Rusee-felt (hardly any one can get my name correctly, except as Rosy). Then I go over to the gymnasium, where I have a set-to with the gloves with ‘General’ Lister, the boxing master -  for I am training to box among the lightweights in the approaching match for the championship of Harvard. Then comes lunch, at which all the boys are assembled in an obstreperously joyful condition; a state of mind which brings on a free fight, to the detriment of Harry Jackson, who, with a dutch cheese and some coffee cups is put under the table; proceeding calls forth dire threats of expulsion from Mrs. Morgan. Afterwards studying and recitations took up the time till halfpast four; as I was then going home, suddenly I hear ‘Hi, Ted! Catch!’ and a base ball whizzed by me. Our two ‘babies’ Bob Bacon and Arthur Hooper were playing ball behind one of the buildings. So I stayed and watched them, until the ball went through a window and a proctor started out to inquire – when we abruptly separated. That evening I took dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Tudor, and had a very pleasant home-like time. I like both of them very much. Ask Bamie why she never thanked her for the handkerchiefs. When I returned I studied for an hour, and then, it being halfpast ten, put on my slippers, which are as comfortable as they are pretty, drew the rocking chair up to the fire, and spent the next half hour in toasting my feet and reading Lamb.”

Theodore Roosevet at Harvard

Theodore Roosevelt at Harvard, in sculling gear, 1879. From the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace National Historic Site collection.

Posted by Grant Carlson on Oct 07, 2013 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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