Experts to offer guidance for Papers of Abraham Lincoln

SPRINGFIELD – Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, announced Monday that a team of experts will review the library’s Papers of Abraham Lincoln project and make recommendations for the future of this vital initiative.

The goal of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln is to locate, transcribe and publish every document written by or to Lincoln. Over the past 17 years, the Papers project has located about 101,000 documents and is in the process of transcribing and editing them. The next phase is to make the documents available to the public.

“The Papers of Abraham Lincoln has performed an incredible service by tracking down documents that shed light on the life and legacy of our 16th president. It is time to begin sharing this valuable work with the rest of the world,” Lowe said. “We are now soliciting advice from some of the nation’s top experts on the best way to structure the Papers and publish its work.”

The team is being asked to consider issues such as the best digital platform for publishing Lincoln’s papers, the project’s staffing needs and the best organizational structure.

The goal is to have recommendations in hand by April 2017, allowing time for the IHPA, ALPLM and the project’s co-sponsors to make decisions about any changes by July 1, when the state of Illinois’ next fiscal year begins.

The Review and Planning Team consists of:

  • Daniel Feller, director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson project at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. The project is producing a series of 17 volumes of Jackson’s most important papers and making them available digitally. 
  • Patrick Lewis, director and editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition. This project of the Kentucky Historical Society is annotating and posting 400,000 documents related to the state’s governors during the Civil War.
  • Susan Perdue, director of the Documents Compass program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. She advises a variety of historical projects such as the Papers of Frederick Douglass and is co-editor of “The Guide to Documentary Editing.” 
  • Matthew Pinsker, director of Dickinson College’s House Divided Project, a digital history project that provides 21st century tools for teaching 19th century topics. He has published two books and numerous articles on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era.
  • Jennifer Stertzer, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Digital Editing and senior editor for the Papers of George Washington Digital Edition, overseeing the conversion of 62 print volumes into a single online edition.

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln began in 1985 as the Lincoln Legal Papers Project, dedicated to finding all surviving records from Lincoln’s legal career. When that work was finished, the mission was broadened in 2000 to finding all Lincoln documents.

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln is run by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency through its Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum division. It is co-sponsored by the University of Illinois at Springfield and the Abraham Lincoln Association.

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