Firsthand Observer

Part of Theodore Roosevelt Memorial.

"Nothing could be more lonely and nothing could be more beautiful than the view at nightfall across the prairies to [the Badlands'] huge hill masses, when the lengthening shadows had at last merged into one and the faint after-glow of the red sunset filled the west." -Theodore Roosevelt

October 27, 1880

Marries: Roosevelt marries Alice Hathaway Lee on his 22nd birthday.


November 1881
Five members of the New York State Assembly, three seated in the front and two standing with Theodore Roosevelt standing to the right.

Elected To New York State Assembly: In the New York State Assembly, Roosevelt (standing, right) holds his first elective office. 



Theodore Roosevelt IV: Roosevelt's first book, The Naval War of 1812, meets with critical acclaim.

September 1883
February 14, 1884
Handwritten page with a large X above text "The light has gone out of my life."

Tragedy Strikes: Two days after the birth of his first child, Roosevelt's wife and mother die of unrelated illnesses on the same day, in the same house. In his journal he writes, "The light has gone out of my life."


February 17, 1884
Anna Roosevelt seated beside baby Alice Roosevelt, wearing a pale coat and fur muff.

Baby Alice Goes To Anna Roosevelt: Roosevelt places his new baby, Alice Lee Roosevelt, in the care of his sister Anna. 


June 1884

Theodore Roosevelt IV: Sagamore Hill, Roosevelt's main home and future "summer White House" in Oyster Bay, New York, is completed in 1885.

March 1885

President of Stockmen Association: Roosevelt leads the Little Missouri organization intended to enforce ranching rules and regulations.

George Bird Grinnell, photographed from the chest up.

Meets George Bird Grinnell: The Audubon Society founder and Forest and Stream editor becomes one of Roosevelt's many advisors.


November 2, 1886

Loses New York Mayoral Race: After moving back east to campaign for New York City mayor, loses to Abram Hewitt. "I had a bully time," he says.

December 2, 1886
Winter 1886
Wooden cabin with a horse outside in an isolated landscape.

Devastating Cattle Loss: While the Roosevelts honeymoon in Europe, a severe winter in the Dakotas kills most of his cattle and ends his ranching career.


A copy of The Winning of the West open to its title page beside a staggered stack of three additional volumes of The Winning of the West.

Publishes The Winning of the West: Completed in 1896, this influential four-volume work describes cowboy life, stark landscapes and the closing of the Western frontier.


March 1889
May 7, 1889
Young Theodore Roosevelt seated in a chair.

Appointed Civil Service Commissioner: In his first national political office, Roosevelt serves as one of three civil service commissioners.


May 6, 1895
Theodore Roosevelt (third from right) sits at a table alongside three other people.

President of NYC Police Commissioners: Roosevelt (third from right) is elected president of the New York City Board of Police Commissioners and serves for two years.


Spring 1898

Assembles His Rough Riders: Roosevelt’s some 1,200 Rough Riders included Harvard classmates, college athletes, cowboys and Native Americans.

May-September 1898
November 8, 1898
Theodore Roosevelt seated at a wooden desk, examining a piece of paper.

Governor of New York: Elected governor of New York State. He serves for two years.



Douglas Brinkley: A lifelong bird-lover, Roosevelt praises the work of AMNH ornithologist Frank Chapman.

November 6, 1900

Patricia O'Toole: President William McKinley, with Roosevelt as his running mate, wins a decisive victory; Roosevelt becomes vice president.