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Lincoln 

 

Several dozen items from the Lincoln Collection that were created by, owned by, or associated with Abraham Lincoln, his family, and his colleagues are on display every day at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, located across the street from the Presidential Library.  The remainder of the collection—the premier collection of Lincoln manuscripts, family possessions, published works, and fine or popular art depicting the sixteenth president—is safeguarded in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library where it is available to researchers by appointment.

The Lincoln Collection began in the 1890s as part of the Illinois State Historical Library, and new items are added all the time. The three largest sources have been 1) Henry Horner, Governor of Illinois (1933–1940), a zealous Lincoln collector whose first law partner, Frank A. Whitney, was the son of Lincoln friend Henry Clay Whitney. Horner amassed one of the nation's great Lincoln collections and donated it shortly before his death in office in 1940; 2) the Lincoln family, through a number of bequests of papers, books, and items from their homes since the 1920s; and 3) Louise and Barry Taper, donors of the Library’s Taper Collection.

Holdings

  • Almost 1,600 original letters and manuscripts written or signed by Lincoln
  • More than 13,000 books and pamphlets on every aspect of Lincoln’s life
  • More than 280 historical artifacts associated with the sixteenth president and his family that are rotated in exhibition at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum, including such items as Lincoln's beaver-fur stovepipe hat; the Edward Everett holograph of the Gettysburg Address (one of the five existent known copies of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's own hand); the Leland-Boker printing of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by the president; the House of Representatives Congressional resolution for the 13th Amendment to end slavery, also signed by Lincoln; his traveling shaving mirror; two dozen of his law books; Tad Lincoln's toy cannon; the skirt to Mary Lincoln's wedding dress; Mary's blood-stained fan from Ford's Theatre; and many more priceless items of historical import.
  • Approximately 320 pieces of Mary Lincoln's correspondence, by far the largest anywhere
  • The entire 20,000 pages of the letterpress books of Robert Lincoln (1843–1926), as well as hundreds of letters by his wife, children, and grandchildren
  • More than 3,000 Lincoln-related prints and photographs
  • More than 1,000 broadsides, from the 1830s to the 2010s
  • More than 2,000 items of Lincoln fine art, ephemera, and popular art and crafts that reflect evolving notions of Lincoln and his legacy in the collective memory of the American people and the people of the world 
 

Taper Collection

The largest collection of Lincoln artifacts in private hands—gathered by California collector Louise Taper over the course of three decades—was acquired by the Library through donation and purchase from 2004 to 2007.  Taper concentrated on collecting items relating to Abraham Lincoln’s personal life and his assassination.  Among the collections highlights are:

  • A stovepipe hat
  • The blood-stained gloves and handkerchief Lincoln carried on the night of his death
  • An 1824 book containing the first known sample of Lincoln’s handwriting
  • Unpublished correspondence of Mary Todd Lincoln
  • Items relating to assassin John Wilkes Booth and his family

Some items have been exhibited in the Presidential Museum’s Treasures Gallery.   Items from the Taper Collection have been featured in the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum’s “Artifact of the Month.”

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation is heading a multi-year effort to retire the debt from the purchase of the Taper Collection.  Find out how to contribute on the Permanent Home Campaign page.

Accessing the Collection

On site:  Lincoln Collection materials must be used at the Library.  They are not available through inter-library loan.  Appointments are required. Contact:
James Cornelius

Lincoln Curator
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 785-7954
Fax: (217) 558-1574

Email:  james.cornelius@illinois.gov

Online:  Many items have been digitized and are accessible through Illinois Legacy Online

Appraisals

The staff is prohibited by law from appraising historical artifacts, documents, signatures, or other items. A list of professional appraisers and dealers of historical artifacts is provided upon request for informational purposes only and is not an endorsement of the individuals or businesses listed.

Have a question about a specific item of Lincolniana?

Attach one jpeg image to an email, or send a copy to:

James Cornelius

Lincoln Curator
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
Phone: (217) 785-7954
Fax: (217) 558-1574

Email:  james.cornelius@illinois.gov

Want to donate an item to the Presidential Library?

 

Contact:
Gary Stockton

Acquisitions Chief
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum
112 North Sixth Street
Springfield, IL 62701
(217) 524-5939

Email:  gary.stockton@illinois.gov

Use and Reproduction of Lincoln Collection Materials

  • For personal research and study: Reproductions of material from the Lincoln Collection may be made only for use in the research, teaching, or private study of the recipient. Reproductions may not be made or donated to other repositories by the recipient. They also may not be further reproduced without permission.
  • For publication or broadcast: Conditions and fee schedules are listed in the Library's Permission to Use Agreement.