This summer the TR Center has eight interns working across the U.S. and from Scotland. Each intern is producing a digital humanities project. Sara Butterfass shares a directory created for future researchers that includes two predefined groups, Cabinet Members and Diplomats.
When I began this internship back in May, I was thrust into the world of Theodore Roosevelt. I encountered diplomats, family friends, admirers, politicians, architects, lawyers, and even Roosevelt’s taxidermist. Learning about and navigating this network took time and plenty of searching. The knowledge I gained with each search stayed localized within my records, but had the potential to save other interns time and effort when working with their own set of records, just as my fellow interns’ discovery and mapping of connections would benefit my own work.
With the goal of a shared directory of individual creators, recipients, and references for all TR Center interns to consult, I created a preliminary database using the open source tool Heurist. I began with records for Theodore Roosevelt and a few of his immediate family members, men who served in his presidential cabinet, and a few U.S. diplomats. Each record includes significant dates (birth, death, terms of service) and a brief description detailing their connection to Theodore Roosevelt. After putting this small sample set of records together, I built a WordPress site to host the full directory and a two pre-defined search groups, one for Cabinet Members and another for Diplomats (though these are not yet comprehensive lists).
A tool that combines the information interns (both past and present) have discovered about the people discussed in the collection material that interns can consult will cut down on the time it takes to familiarize oneself with the vast network of people Theodore Roosevelt was connected with throughout his lifetime. The hope is that this will ultimately enable interns to make material available more quickly.