Edmund Morris & Edward Renehan: Rebuffed ... TR Association Plans to Stay in Business

Historians in the News

Eighty-eight years after the Theodore Roosevelt Association was founded, a prominent historian and a former head of the organization are suggesting that the group reinvent itself or disband.
Edmund Morris, an influential TR biographer, and Edward Renehan, former acting chief executive of the association, wrote to Barbara Berryman Brandt, chairwoman of the 2,000-member Muttontown-based association, that its work is done. And their position is backed by Cathal Nolan, the Boston University scholar selected to become association president Jan. 1 but who turned down the job.

Despite the criticism that the Theodore Roosevelt Association lacks focus and relevance, its board insists the group will not disband and will seek a new president and expanded visibility. "It's the beginning of a new era," Brandt said.

Morris, who is working on the third and final volume of his biography of TR, said in an interview that "they're having trouble finding a new leader and I think the organization's PR work is done" now that Roosevelt is ranked among the top five presidents by historians. "I just think the TRA needs to move into a new phase now and support the most valuable part of the association, which in my opinion is the collection at Harvard."
The association donated material to TR's alma mater in the 1940s, and Morris said the collection is "woefully underfinanced."

Renehan said, "I had been lobbying for a long time for the TRA ... to become relevant. What would make historical sense would be for it to ... work in partnership with charitable organizations that TR was passionate about."

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