Dismissed as a short-lived fad, the Teddy Bear was so closely tied to Theodore Roosevelt that it was predicted to end with his presidency. Plush toys like “Billy Possum” attempted to usurp Teddy’s legacy but the bear lived on, capturing the hearts of Americans of all ages before quickly becoming the best-selling toy in the nation. Read more about it!
The information in this guide focuses on primary source materials found in the digitized historic newspapers from the digital collection Chronicling America.
The timeline below highlights important dates related to this topic and a section of this guide provides some suggested search strategies for further research in the collection.
|November 6, 1902||Theodore Roosevelt refuses to kill a bear while hunting, later inspiring a cartoon parody.|
|February 1903||Roosevelt meets the parody's creator, Berryman the “Bear Man.”|
|January 3, 1906||A new illustrated series called “The Roosevelt Bears” debuts in the papers.|
|November 1906||The Teddy Bear toy craze picks up steam, with dolls and pets being replaced.|
|August 4, 1907||A Teddy Bear drama is planned for the stage.|
|December 15, 1907||The Teddy Bear makes its way onto almost every child’s Christmas wish list.|
|April 10, 1909||The popular but ultimately short-lived “Billy Possum” challenges the success of the Teddy Bear.|
|1910||Teddy Bear mania hits England, with the number of bears outnumbering children in that country, and begins spreading to Russia and Japan.|
|1914||The outbreak of the Great War and resulting restrictions of European imports causes a great boost for the American manufacture of Teddy Bears.|