An impertinent dignitary once suggested to President Theodore Roosevelt that he control his daughter. “I can be President of the United States, or I can control Alice,” TR replied frankly. “I cannot possibly do both.”

Alice Roosevelt, the eldest child of Theodore Roosevelt, was a force of nature. She was a rebellious child, who turned into a rebellious teenager, who became a rebellious woman. Alice lived nearly a full century (1884-1980) and she was a presence in Washington, D.C. Politicians called her “the other Washington monument”, and there was something to it. Alice went to the White House during every administration after her father’s. A visit from her conferred some sort of extra legitimacy upon any politician. She was a reminder of a grander time, before World Wars, and the Great Depression.

And, she was fun. When she was a young woman and her father was the president, she carried her pet garter snake (named after her aunt) in her purse to frighten unsuspecting visitors. She smoked cigarettes and was spotted driving on occasion. Later, her acerbic wit was famous in D.C. One of her favorite sayings, which she had embroidered on a pillow for her sitting room, was:

Alice Roosevelt Longworth’s signature sentiment

Alice was unpredictable in most ways, except one: she was always on the cutting edge of fashion.

Here are a few pictures of her life through the years:

Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, ca. 1890.

 

Alice (center) with her father and stepmother, Edith, in 1900 at Cambridge. 

Alice frequently rebelled against her father and step-mother. Her relationship with Edith, who never overcame her bitterness about Theodore’s first marriage, was often rocky.

Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, full-length portrait, facing left; wearing ball gown ca. 1902
Alice in January 1902, not long after Theodore Roosevelt became the president

 

 

Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Mrs. Alice Roosevelt Longworth, three-quarter length portrait, standing with right hand on hip, wearing coat and hat ca. 1902
Alice in 1904, at the White House
Alice on horseback, 1905

Alice’s wedding to Rep. Nicholas Longworth in 1906 was the event of the season. The press was fascinated with the details and “Princess Alice” photography was ubiquitous in the early months of 1906.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth, three-quarter length portrait, wearing hat and muff, standing at window, facing front ca. 1906. Feb. 8.
Johnston, Frances Benjamin. Alice Roosevelt Longworth.

On the evening of the wedding, just before Alice and her new husband left, Edith Roosevelt looked at her step-daughter and said,  “I want you to know that I’m glad to see you go. You’ve never been anything but trouble.”

Alice, however, reflected later in life that she enjoyed her step-mother very much.

Alice (right) spotted leaving a Chicago hospital in 1912 after visiting her father, after a would-be assassin shot the former president.

Read about Theodore Roosevelt’s near-assassination here.

 

Alice Roosevelt Longworth in 1915
Alice Roosevelt Longworth, in December 1921 – she favored this style of hat for the rest of her life
Alice, on her 43rd birthday, with 2-year-old Paulina, her only child

It was rumored – and never denied by Alice – that Longworth was not Paulina’s father. The Longworths’ marriage was at times contentious, and neither troubled to hide their philandering much from one another.

Alice with her half-brother, Theodore, Jr., in 1932

 

87-year-old Alice, with her granddaughter, Joanna Sturm, being escorted into Tricia Nixon’s wedding in 1971

Mugshots were still new at the turn of the century. The people pictured here were criminals but their names, deeds, and victims are forgotten. Their photos appear quaint, and could never be mistaken for those of modern inmates.

One interesting practice of this era was to allow prisoners to be officially photographed wearing hats. The hats tell us a lot about these prisoners: their occupation, their status, how much they cared about their appearance. Perhaps it was a wise trend. An escapee could cut or color his hair, for instance, but if he was a farmer chances are, he could be recaptured on a farm.

The following mugshots were taken at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary:

Ben Porter

John L. McMonigle

Mary Grayson, 19 years old in the year 1900 Convicted of larceny

Francisco Salinas, age 39. Smuggler

B.M. Burris

 

Caesar Franklin, undated, Leavenworth

Leslie Isis, 1912 Leavenworth

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This fellow’s name was Julius Ceasar:

Julius Caesar, 1905, Leavenworth

 

Prisoner at Leavenworth Federal Penitentiary

Sharper Grayson

 

The Library of Congress has a collection of photographs, arranged by W.E.B. Du Bois, especially for Paris’ Exposition Universelle. The collection depicts the “history and present conditions” (circa 1900) of black Americans.

Dentistry at Howard University, Washington, D.C., circa 1900
Dentistry at Howard University, Washington, D.C., circa 1900

It’s a curious collection because nothing overt ties the photos together, except that everyone pictured is black and American. There are over 500 photographs of various subjects, ranging from dentists to cabinet photos, from piano lessons to candid group photos. They are interesting to me because they were all taken at the turn of the century, but the photos were current at the time. I wonder what effect they were intended to have. My theory, unsupported by anything except my imagination, is that W.E.B. Du Bois knew the media offered a 1-dimensional, negative representation of black America, and when he lived in Europe he realized there was no other, more realistic information out there.

If you haven’t heard of W.E.B. Du Bois, you almost certainly have heard of his legacy, which includes writing The Souls of Black Folk and in 1909 and co-founding the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

W.E.B. Du Bois, circa 1918
W.E.B. Du Bois, circa 1918

William Edward Burghardt (W. E. B.) Du Bois was a remarkable man of great energy and intelligence who devoted his career to bettering the condition of black Americans. Du Bois attended the Universities of Berlin and Harvard, and eventually received his doctorate. He became a professor at Atlanta University in Georgia, where the artifacts for the Paris exhibition were gathered.

The pictures are available on the Library of Congress’ website, in some cases with a little information about the subjects.

Here are a few of my favorites:

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