Stereoviews and Culture: Theodore Roosevelt, The Stork, and Teddy Bears

Posted on August 18, 2022

This post is written by Kelvin Ramsey '79, donor of the Kelvin Ramsey Collection of Lantern Slides and Stereoviews.

 

Stereoviews offer a great window into the world of popular culture from the 1860’s into the 19230’s. A great example of this window are a set of two Keystone View Co. stereoviews published in 1907 (below). The captions indicate that in the “New” Times that the stork’s job has gone from delivering babies to teddy bears.

Two stereoviews, one showing a stork delivering a baby and the other showing a stork delivering a teddy bear.
Two stereoviews from 1907, one showing a stork delivering a baby and the other showing a stork delivering a teddy bear.

The Teddy Bear was the result of a political cartoon related to a bear hunting trip that Theodore Roosevelt took in November of 1902 in Mississippi. A candy shop owner in Brooklyn who also made stuffed animals was inspired to dedicate a bear to Roosevelt called the “Teddy Bear” and received permission from TR to mass produce the toys. They became popular rather quickly and obviously caught the attention of the Keystone View Co. in 1907. Roosevelt's hunting trip and the cartoon inspired by it also led to the publication of Seymour Eaton's books featuring "The Roosevelt Bears," Teddy-B and Teddy-G.1

Clifford Berryman's cartoon of Roosevelt on hunting trip
Clifford Berryman, "Drawing the Line in Mississippi," published in the Washington Post in 1902. 

The stork bringing babies is another part of the culture of the day, perhaps inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s short story “The Storks.” The legend became a convenient vehicle for Victorian parents to avoid the talk about how babies are made.

Seymour Eaton's _Teddy-B & Teddy-G: The Bear Detectives_ (1908) (PZ7 .E14 T2)
Page from Seymour Eaton's _Teddy-B & Teddy-G: The Bear Detectives_ (1908)
"At last he answered, 'We'll take the case and give that wolf a lively chase.'" (Page 17)

References

Story of the Teddy Bear from the Theodore Roosevelt Birthplace NPS web site

https://www.nps.gov/thrb/learn/historyculture/storyofteddybear.htm

Account of the stork bringing babies myth

https://www.livescience.com/62807-why-storks-baby-myth.html

1 "The Roosevelt Bears--Teddy-B and Teddy-G", https://pubs.lib.uiowa.edu/bai/article/id/29033/

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