Roosevelt Letter Discovered During Internship
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Posted by Melissa Nykanen
Madison Unell, a junior at Pepperdine, was an intern in the Special Collections and University Archives this past semester. Madison completed a preservation survey of our rare book collection, and made some interesting discoveries in the process. Here is her report:
This semester I had the opportunity to intern with the Payson Special Collections. My project was to perform a CALIPR (California Preservation Program) survey to better understand the preservation needs of the Rare Book collection. At first, the project was about collecting the data to be processed for grant money to better preserve the collection. As the semester went on, however, my project became so much more.
In my work, I began to find books in the collection that had not been picked up in years; books that had seemingly been forgotten behind their dusty covers, hidden away in a room most Pepperdine student do not even know exits. It is there that I discovered the most interesting of finds: a letter from Edith Kermit Roosevelt.
I found it one day when I was surveying a very normal looking green book with gold letters that read “Quentin Roosevelt: A Sketch with Letters.” It was a biography of the youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt, who had been killed in aerial combat over France on Bastille Day, July 14, 1918. Quentin was only twenty-one years old.
In flipping open the book to find an imprint date, part of the needed data for the CALIPR survey, I noticed a curious sticker on the inside cover. It was a very elaborate design with the words “Ex Libris Sophie Beauveau Norris.” Thinking little of it, I continued to flip through the pages where I stumbled upon a piece of wrinkled paper that was stuck to a page in the middle of the book. Gently peeling the old parchment away from the page, I was able to decipher the words on the front of the letter. It simply read Mrs. Sophie Norris. Immediately connecting the letter and the sticker on the front page, I carefully opened the letter excited about what I might find.
Sure enough, the letter was from Edith Kermit Roosevelt, the mother of Quentin and second wife of Theodore. While the letter was extremely difficult to read, what I figured out was that Edith gave the book to Mrs. Norris with the letter inside. How the Pepperdine library came to acquire such a book with such a historic letter is unknown, but it is certainly a fascinating find.
Being a student of History, I am fascinated by research and the stories that are hidden in old books. This find was very exciting and I am interested to do more research about the letter and Mrs. Norris’s connection to the Roosevelts.
The book Madison described above can be found in the library catalog here: http://pepperdine.worldcat.org/oclc/1185205.