Sunday, September 14, 2014

Sketch of Theodore Roosevelt inside 1902 U.S. history textbook

This seems appropriate this afternoon, given the new Ken Burns seven-part documentary, The Roosevelts: An Intimate History, that debuts tonight on many PBS stations across the nation.1

The above sketch of President Theodore Roosevelt was made many years ago on the inside front cover of the 1902 edition of The New Eclectic History of the United States by M.E. Thalheimer. (I bought this at a bookstore in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, a couple of months ago.)

The sketch is not bad! I think my only quibble would be with the artist's work on the hands. Roosevelt's right hand looks too small and awkward. And his left hand seems to disappear into nowhere. Still, it's a very nice piece by the amateur artist. (Or perhaps a bored student.)

And who was that artist? Our only clue is the name written on the page opposite the sketch.

Of course, we cannot know for certain if one-time textbook owner Hubert E. Miller of St. Vincents College in Latrobe, Pennsylvania, was also the Roosevelt artist. Surely, this book was used by others.

There are no other doodles or marginalia in the textbook. So the artist limited himself (or herself) to the inside front cover when it came to "defacing" the book.

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1. Ken Genzlinger, a critic for The New York Times, writes of the new documentary: "If you commit to the whole series, which begins on Sunday on PBS, you’ll also be getting, at no extra charge, a survey of an amazingly transformative half-century that made the United States what it is today. How transformative? The Roosevelt era began with a charge on horseback during the Spanish-American War. It ended, it could be argued, with the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan."

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