Friday, July 19th, 2013...10:00 am

You’ve Got Mail: Theodore Roosevelt as comic artist

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Despite the many demands of being president, Theodore Roosevelt found time to regularly write to each of his six children while they were away at school or visiting friends. Tailored to match each child’s interests and personality, TR’s letters are filled with descriptions of family pets, siblings’ antics, and his own many adventures (which make equally entertaining reading for adults and children). Among his many talents, TR was a clever comic artist, and his playful sense of humor is much more evident in these letters than in his official correspondence or other writings.

TR wrote this letter to his 12-year-old daughter Ethel (pictured above, in 1905) on June 22, 1904.

(Notice TR’s note on the second page, under his self-portrait, that his rather uncharacteristically slender “shape and spectacles are reproduced with photographic fidelity”.)

Many more of TR’s picture letters can be found in the Theodore Roosevelt Collection; all of TR’s correspondence has been digitized and can by viewed by browsing the finding aids in the collection. More information can be found on the department’s website.

MS Am 1454.48 (29). Deposited by Ethel Roosevelt Derby, (year unknown).

This post is part of a feature on the Houghton Library blog, “You’ve Got Mail,” based on letters in Houghton Library. A Houghton staff member selects a letter from the diverse collections in the Library and puts that letter into context. All posts associated with this series may be viewed by clicking on the You’veGotMail tag.

[This post was contributed by Heather Cole, Assistant Curator of Modern Books & Manuscripts and Curator of the Theodore Roosevelt Collection.]

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