SPRINGFIELD – History doesn’t always mean treaties, speeches and battles. It can also mean romantic letters, love songs and reunions with loved ones, as the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will demonstrate the day before Valentine’s Day.
A special “Tales from the Vault” session on Feb. 13 will showcase materials from the presidential library’s collections that connect to love and romance. Manuscripts curator Christopher Schnell will explain each item and discuss what historians can learn from them.
Visitors will see gorgeous vintage Valentine’s Day cards, including one made by hand by Springfield socialite Susan Lawrence Dana, whose home is now a state historic site. There will also be “vinegar valentines” that people sent to tease or just plain insult others.
Schnell will also show some love letters, including one from a Civil War soldier to his fiancée back home. “How often have I thought of that time when you placed your dear little head upon my shoulder and whispered in my ear that you loved me—it was the happiest moment of my life,” he wrote.
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has a tremendous collection of historic sheet music. Some of the songs focus on loved ones who are away at war – or who died in battle – for instance, “My Sweetheart Went Down with the Maine” from the Spanish-American War.
The free presentation, offered in conjunction with the Illinois State Museum and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site, takes place at noon, Thursday, Feb. 13, at the presidential library (112 N. Sixth St., Springfield).
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum uses a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship to immerse visitors in Lincoln’s life and times. The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art, as well as some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history.
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