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Theodore Roosevelt Inspires Identification Day

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It’s Identification Day this Saturday from noon to 4 pm! Bring in your rocks, bones, feathers, plants, and other finds for a Museum scientist to attempt to identify. New this year: a chance to scan your object, and receive a digital copy that can be used for later 3D printing, all while learning how scientists are using 3D scanners and printers in their work.

Tiny TR 3D Bust ID Day 2014
At Identification Day 2014, the first 2,000 people who are interested will receive this "Tiny TR" made by a 3D printer. The day also features scientists using 3D printers and conducting demonstrations.

In addition, the first 2,000 ID Day participants will receive a miniature bust of Theodore Roosevelt, a “Tiny TR,” created with a cutting-edge 3D printer. Why TR? His legacy as a lifelong naturalist—and a friend of the Museum—is one of the inspirations behind this annual event.


For TR, studying specimens began when he was a small boy and came across a seal carcass on a plank in a market in Manhattan.


He returned day after day to look at it, measure it, and eventually secure its skull for a “museum” he and his cousins organized in his boyhood home—the same home in which his father and other prominent New Yorkers would later sign the charter for the American Museum of Natural History in 1869. Awakened to “every possible feeling of romance and adventure,” as TR wrote in his autobiography, he “at once began to write a natural history of my own, on the strength of that seal.”

By age 11, Roosevelt had written a natural history of insects, based on his own observations and information about the insects that “now and then a friend has told me.” At 13, he made his first donation of specimens to this Museum: 12 mice, four birds’ eggs, a turtle, the skull of a red squirrel, and a bat. At age 19, he published his first truly scientific work, a list of birds that he and a friend identified one summer in New York’s Adirondack Mountains. 

Snowy Owl
Snowy Owl collected by Theodore Roosevelt
© AMNH/ C. Chesek

Although as an adult TR’s career turned to politics, he never lost his enthusiasm for natural science. Over the course of his life, through his close personal connection to the Museum, TR was privileged to have many an “ID Day,” seeking out curators to consult about his finds and discuss his observations.

And it is in that same spirit that the Museum invites the public to share their bird’s nests, sea shells, animal bones, rocks, artifacts, feathers and other finds for Museum scientist to identify. As in past years, participants will receive a certificate of authentication.

Recipients of a Tiny TR bust will be further encouraged to share a photo of themselves with the memento anywhere they experience nature, from a public park to their own backyard, by tweeting @AMNH with the hashtag #TinyTR

Identification Day is Saturday, May 10, from noon to 4 pm in the Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Hall.

Learn more about Theodore Roosevelt here.