I’ve always been a big believer in the importance of a good souvenir. As a kid, I probably wanted to go in the gift shop of the Grand Canyon before I actually saw the Canyon itself. Purchasing a souvenir was a means of archiving the experience and making sense out of it. Yes, the Grand Canyon is definitely vast, but I had a postcard to prove that the vastness could all be pinned down on paper.
Theodore Roosevelt’s presidency and the events that shaped his life were no different. This week we published a Theodore Roosevelt Commemorative Razor from the collections of the Inaugural Site. The straight razor commemorates Roosevelt’s succession to the presidency on September 14, 1901. The blade features a portrait of Roosevelt and folds into a protective handle. I’m betting that nobody actually used this razor to shave. It was probably stored on someone’s shelf or tucked deep inside of a drawer. The owner would have wanted to just hold onto it.
Recently published items in the Inaugural Collection also feature a Commemorative Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Succession Envelope and a Commemorative Envelope for the Dedication of the Wilcox Mansion. Stamps and envelopes helped people feel like they were a part of the historic events that shaped their time period. They could take a little piece of history home with them and maybe press it between the pages of a book.
The items in the Inaugural Collection help us understand how the start of Roosevelt’s presidency was understood, the images that were used to represent it, and how people connected with history through souvenirs.
Theodore Roosevelt commemorative razor, 1901-1905. From the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site.