Panama Canal

Aug 28, 2012

Summer intern Lisa shares the connection she felt living near the Panama Canal while interning at the Theodore Roosevelt Center.


During part of my internship with the Theodore Roosevelt Center this summer, I lived in Panama, just a few miles from the Panama Canal Zone. And though I was somewhat familiar with President Roosevelt’s role in the construction of the Canal, it was an interesting surprise and coincidence to stumble upon his “St. Louis Speech.”

 St. Louis Speech

St. Louis Speech, October 2, 1907. MS Am 1454.50 (150). Houghton Library. Harvard University. Electronic copy sponsored by the Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickinson State University. For reproduction or publication permission, contact the Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Houghton Library.

In the speech, given over a hundred years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt discusses the financial benefits of the Panama Canal and other tributaries to the American economy. It was startling to be in such close proximity to the Canal while reading the President's words and goals for the Canal. Mr. Roosevelt imagined an achievement for the United States and an engineering marvel.

Today the United States no longer manages the Canal, having handed back ownership to the Republic of Panama in 1999. Needless to say, it was serendipitous having such a special archival connection to my visit to Central America.

Lisa Cruces Welty completed her MS in Information Studies at the University of Texas at Austin in May of 2012, specializing in archival enterprise and academic librarianship. She recently joined the University of Notre Dame this fall as an academic librarian, working in digital libraries and special collections.





Posted by Lisa Cruces Welty on Aug 28, 2012 in Digital Library  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)  |  Share this post

Nina Brown said,

"handed back" ? Panama always owned the land on which the Canal was built. By various treaties, the land was leased "in perpetuity" to be managed by the US "as if it were sovereign", which the US did with distinction & honor for the benefit of the world -- nonprofit -- from 1904 through 1999. By yet another treaty those rights were relinquished & the US gave the Canal to Panama as a gift. It was never "handed back". Yes, it's a pretty special engineering feat, constructed in 10 years & completed on time & under budget. It is still marveled at by engineers who know what they are looking at

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