National Teddy Bear Day

National Teddy Bear Day is celebrated every year on September 9. Many people have fond memories of a teddy bear that they had when they were a child. Your ancestors might have had teddy bears of their own. The first Teddy Bear toy was created in late 1902.

The Teddy bear has a connection to Theodore Roosevelt who was the 26th President of the United States. His Presidential Term started on September 14, 1901, and ended on March 4, 1909.

When he was a child, Theodore Roosevelt has the nickname “Teedie”. (He apparently disliked the usual nickname for someone named Theodore – “Teddy”.) He was described as “sickly” because he had severe asthma and weak eyesight. He later adopted “the strenuous life” which involved physical exertion and vigorous activity. As an adult, he became known as an outdoorsman.

On November 14, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt was on a bear hunting trip near Onward, Mississippi. Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino invited him. As you may have expected, President Roosevelt traveled with some assistants.

The head assistant was Holt Collier, who was born a slave and who became a Confederate cavalryman. It has been said that President Roosevelt was the only person in the trip who had not located a single bear. It appears that Holt Collier wanted to help President Roosevelt, so he tied a black bear to a willow tree, and suggested that President Roosevelt shoot at it.

President Theodore Roosevelt refused. He viewed the situation – of a bear tied to a tree – as extremely unsportsmanlike. A political cartoonist named Clifford Berryman read about this in a newspaper, and he created a lighthearted cartoon about it. The cartoon appeared in The Washington Post on November 16, 1902.

The cartoon inspired a Brooklyn candy shop owner named Morris Michtom. He and his wife, Rose Michtom, made stuffed animals. They created a stuffed toy bear, and wanted to dedicate it to the President by naming it the Teddy bear. President Roosevelt gave the Mitchom’s permission to use his name in connection with the toy bear.

Since then, children have been given Teddy bears, of all shapes, colors, and sizes, as toys for them to play with. You likely had one of your own when you were a child. Some of your ancestors may have had Teddy bears of their own. It might be interesting for you to ask your relatives if they played with a Teddy bear – and if they know the story behind it.

Related Articles at

* Scrapbook Childhood Toys

* A Brief History of Dolls

* Children’s Games Your Ancestors Played

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