The Well-Read President

Aug 08, 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. Karen Sieber shares her process and her timeline of TR's reading.

As a historian and PhD student, the vast majority of my days are spent reading. And yet, I often find it difficult to find time to read much outside of my discipline due to my hectic schedule. Working in President Theodore Roosevelt's papers this summer, I was impressed with the quantity and variety of books that the man read, despite his busy schedule. I was also curious to see how his reading habits changed, if at all, as president, and what could be learned about him as a man in the process.  

I created a database using Knight Lab's TimelineJS and Google Sheets of all of the mentions of books and reading from his first presidential term. I was then able to track down digital copies of every single book mentioned, and I linked it all together using (very) basic html. The timeline then evolved into a virtual bookshelf of sorts, where users can not only view the letter discussing the book, but the book itself, reading, in many cases, exactly the same edition that Roosevelt did. The timeline illuminates not only how books affected his diplomacy and decisions as president, but also his friendships and the instillation of a love for reading in his children. 

Click below to see the timeline created by Karen Sieber.

TR Reading Timeline



Posted by Karen Sieber on Aug 08, 2017 in History  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)  |  Share this post

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