Theodore Roosevelt Association

Theodore Roosevelt Association

The Theodore Roosevelt Association, (TRA) is an historical and cultural organization based in Oyster Bay, New York, open to the general public. The organization's purpose is to honor the life and works of Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) and to educate the public on the 26th US President.


The organization was founded in 1919 by friends and supporters of the late US 26th president originally as the "Permanent Memorial National Committee". Soon renamed the Roosevelt Memorial Association, (RMA), it was chartered under Title 36 of the United States Code in 1920.

In parallel with the RMA was an organization for women, The Women's Theodore Roosevelt Association that had been founded in 1919 by an act of the New York State Assembly. Both organizations merged in 1953 under the current name. In 2007, membership fees were as low as $20 for students and $35 for regular members.

Nearly 90 Years of Preserving Theodore Roosevelt's Legacy

, Roosevelt's Oyster Bay home, which opened to the public in 1953 and, together with nearby "Old Orchard", home to Theodore Roosevelt Jr., was donated to the National Park Service in also in 1963. Along with the 1963 gifts of the Birthplace and Sagamore Hill properties, the TRA also donated an endowment to help support both parks sites. The TRA currently owns Theodore Roosevelt's simple cabin, "Pine Knot", near Charlottesville, VA, which is managed by The Edith and Theodore Roosevelt Pine Knot Foundation.

Theodore Roosevelt Collection

One of the two TRA ancestor organizations, the Roosevelt Memorial Association (RMA), collected manuscripts, diaries, correspondence and other items relating to Roosevelt's personal and professional life. In 1923, the RMA opened a research library in New York City, and continued to build its archive. During 1943, the organization presented that entire collection of materials to Harvard University, Roosevelt's alma mater. Today the Theodore Roosevelt Collection is housed in Harvard's Houghton and Widener Libraries. [ [ Roosevelt Collection at Harvard University] ] The collection continues to be a major resource for the study of the life and times of the 26th president of the United States. (Note: The only larger Theodore Roosevelt Collection is that at the Library of Congress (LOC), which includes Roosevelt's Presidential Papers, donated personally by Roosevelt to the LOC.) [ [ Library of Congress Roosevelt Collection ] ]

Theodore Roosevelt Film Collection

The compilation of the film collection was originally embarked upon by the RMA in January 1919. Later, during 1924, the RMA formally established the Roosevelt Motion Picture Library housed in the president's reconstructed NYC birthplace. During 1962, the TRA donated the Roosevelt Motion Picture Library to the Library of Congress. [ [ Library of Congress on the Roosevelt Picture Library ] ]

Leadership of the TRA

Led in the years 1919-1957 by Secretary and Director Hermann Hagedorn (1882-1964), the Association engaged in a wide spectrum of programs and activities to preserve Roosevelt's memory. Dr. John Allen Gable served as executive director from 1974 until his sudden death in early 2005. [ [ Press notice of the death of Dr. John Gable] ] After interim appointments, the TRA's leadership decided to expand and modernize the organization and hired James Bruns as Director to implement an organizational growth strategy. Bruns, was the former President and CEO of the Atlanta History Center (AHC) and while there had been quite successful tenure developing the museum's physical and financial resources as well as raising almost 30 million dollars. Before the AHC position, Bruns had for a number of years at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC, where he oversaw the building of the National Postal Museum and also had raised hundreds of millions of dollars for various projects. [ [,0,3483935.story?coll=ny-top-headlines Newsday article on James Bruns taking over the leadership of the TRA] ] Bruns is leading an effort to increase membership, grow the organization and is raising funds for a new Presidential Library and Research Center.

Activities in Modern Times

In recent years, the organization's endeavors included creation and maintenance of About Theodore Roosevelt, the TRA web site at which has sometimes been criticized by scholars as hagiographic and hard to navigate. [ [ Review of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Web Site by Rich Hephner of the Public History Resource Center] ] The organization also conducts the Theodore RooseveltR Police Awards (given in New York, Dallas, Boston, and Nashville to police officers who have overcome handicaps), and the Theodore Roosevelt Teddy Bear program, which each year gives Teddy Bears to hospitalized children in New York City and Nashville during the December Holiday season. The TRA also publishes a quarterly journal, conducts occasional historical and educational conferences, and sponsors public speaking contests for high school students in New York. [ [ Theodore Roosevelt Association ] ]

Annual Dinner/Meetings

Annual meetings of the Theodore Roosevelt Association - held near TR's October 27th birthday - occur generally in places that are somehow associated with TR - Boston/Cambridge where he attended college and met his first wife, New York/Oyster Bay where he lived most of his life, Norfolk around the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Washington DC where he worked as Asst. Sec. of Navy, Vice President and President, Atlanta GA where his mother grew up, and even the Netherlands where the Roosevelts originated. The annual dinner frequently includes the awarding of the Theodore Roosevelt Distinguished Service Medal (DSM). Annual meetings often include lectures on TR, visits to Roosevelt-related sites, and silent auctions and bartering/selling of TR collectibles by collector members of the association.

Current Theodore Roosevelt Museums and Sites

As noted above, Theodore Roosevelt's home, Sagamore Hill, and the adjacent Old Orchard (home of Theodore Roosevelt Jr.) were both given to the National Park Service by the TRA in the early 1960s, along with the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in New York City. All three museums remain open to visitors. Old Orchard was recently gutted on its ground floor and redone into a state-of-the-art museum featuring even more artifacts, as well as multimedia presentations documenting the life and career of TR. Not only does the National Park Service administer Sagamore Hill and Old Orchard in Oyster Bay, as well as the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in NYC, but also the aforementioned Theodore Roosevelt Island, an 80 acre tract in the Potomac at Washington, DC, which incorporates an imposing national memorial to Theodore Roosevelt dedicated in 1967. There is also the enormous (more than 70,000 acres (280 km²)) Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota which has a museum dedicated to TR's experiences as a rancher in the Badlands in 1884-1887. Theodore Roosevelt's face is enshrined on Mount Rushmore beside those of Lincoln, Jefferson and Washington.

Proposed Presidential Center/Museum

Press announcements in March 2007 concerning the appointment of James Bruns as president of the TRA noted a plan to build a a world-class museum ...dedicated to the 26th president.

In an interview with the "Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot", Bruns described the project as a challenge to build "a permanent home for [the TRA] and create a fitting place of national reflection in honoring the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt."

In Oyster Bay, NY, where the project is proposed to be built on a site popularly known as "Firemens Field" - local debate is ongoing. [ November 2007 Oyster Bay Enterprise Pilot Article] A citizens group - the Coalition to Save Firemen's Field - has been formed to defend the proposed site of the new museum from development. [ Coalition to Save Firemen's Field] Many residents cite grave concerns over increased traffic to the Museum over two-lane roads for a five mile perimeter around the proposed site: roads that are already frequently choked with traffic jams. Others note redundancy with the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site - former home of the President - and the adjacent Old Orchard Museum, housing an impressive multimedia museum dedicated to TR.

Members of the TRA Board

The current chair, Barbara Brandt serves as the TRA's 1st woman president. She is joined on the board and in the association by members from a wide variety of walks of life, several members of the Roosevelt family including TR's great-grandsons Tweed Roosevelt and Mark Ames, granddaughter Susan Roosevelt Weld and great-great-grandson Simon Roosevelt, and several cousins of TR. Other members include but are not limited to those in finance, the judicial/legal arenas and teaching. The TRA board is also honored to include several active duty and retired US mililtary officers. Interestingly, there are no blacks on the TRA's board of 60+ trustees, nor have there ever been.


The TRA’s membership numbered 1800 as of 2006, and there total corpus of funds just above $2 million. (For backup on 2006 membership figure see: "Theodore Roosevelt Association Financial Statements as of June 30, 2006, Together with Auditor's Report" prepared by Callaghan Nawrocki LLP. Copies available from the office of the Theodore Roosevelt Association pursuant to New York State Law.)

Interests of the membership are as varied as were Theodore Roosevelt's own interests. Members include Rough Rider fans, political memorabilia collectors, and Theodore Roosevelt impersonators. Some members join simply because they enjoy "Teddy" bears.

Rights and Privileges of Members

Membership in the Association includes a subscription to the quarterly TRA Journal, and invitations to Association functions. Members also receive free admission to Sagamore Hill (Oyster Bay, NY) and the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace in Manhattan, upon presentation of their membership cards.

Office Location and Contact Information

The Association's Office is located at

Theodore Roosevelt Association20 Audrey AvenueOyster Bay, NY 11771-1532

The TRA can be reached by writing to that address or to their post office box:

Theodore Roosevelt AssociationP.O. Box 719Oyster Bay, NY 11771-0719

President Jim Bruns: mailto:jameshbruns@aol.comJames Bruns Direct Line: 703-969-9367


ee also

*Theodore Roosevelt
*Theodore Roosevelt Cyclopedia

External links

* Theodore Roosevelt Association Official Site
* Library of Congress - Theodore Roosevelt on Film
* Review of the Theodore Roosevelt Association Web Site by Rich Hephner of the Public History Resource Center

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