We are beginning a new series here on the Theodore Roosevelt Center Blog to highlight our volunteers and what they bring to our digital library project. Our first volunteer is CJ from El Paso, Texas.
During her 25-year Army career, CJ served in various psychiatric nursing positions, and in hospital education and nursing academic roles. When she isn’t cataloging, CJ currently telecommutes as a government contractor for the Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury. Besides her volunteer work for the Theodore Roosevelt Center, she maintains her passion for history by serving as the Army Nurse Corps Association Historian.
What motivated you to become a volunteer for the Theodore Roosevelt Digital Library?
Love of Teddy Roosevelt, first and foremost. I am a “Ted head” who has read all the recent biographies, and Roosevelt-centric non-fiction, attended symposiums, and listened to seasoned historians and biographers speak about him and the Progressive Era. But I wanted to know more and do research. What a perfect hobby! Also, altruism. How wonderful to assist the University to make available online to everyone all the documents pertinent to President Roosevelt! Lastly, I have always loved documents—I am an archive rat!! It has been a wonderful challenge to create the context for the papers we are cataloguing.
What has been your favorite part of volunteering?
Working without the pressure of meeting a deadline, working in Texas and not leaving my home and also learning more about President Roosevelt—whether it is how many people visited his home at Oyster Bay or how he handled the various challenges facing his administration.
What has been the most challenging part of volunteering?
Not having enough time to volunteer when I am working 50-60 hours a week at my daytime job and having enough resources at home or online to create cogent, concise descriptions of contexts for the documents.
Tell us a little about your favorite “discovery” while cataloging.
I have several favorites! The large number of newspaper editors who wrote to the Presidents and who advised him; President Roosevelt’s “hands on” approach to many of the problems in the government, such as the corruption investigation in the Post Office; the correct directions by water to his home on Oyster Bay!
What do you think a potential volunteer needs to have to know or join in the fun?
Working knowledge in American history, especially the Progressive Era; attention to detail and organization; ability to write short, cogent summaries of information and knowledge of online research sites related to President Roosevelt.
Is there a particular document would you like to share?
This is a letter from Henry C. Payne to Theodore Roosevelt, dated July 14, 1903. Post Master General Payne reported almost daily to the President, about status of the corruption investigation of the Post Office. I found it interesting to see the amount of detailed information that was provided to the President. This letter is written approximately 4 months after the scandal broke in the press. It is an example of how thoroughly Roosevelt was briefed about the corruption probe. Later the President appointed a special counsel to deal with the legal issues. Reminds me of the evolution of the Watergate problems in the 1970s.
From Library of Congress, Theodore Roosevelt Papers