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Indiana Historial Society Acquires Major Lincoln CollectionsThe following is a press release from the Indiana Historical Society received on January 23, 2003:
The Indiana Historical Society has acquired two nationally significant Abraham Lincoln collections through generous grants funded by the Lilly Endowment and Bank One Foundation. The collections rank with those found in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Fort Wayne, and include rare photographs, engravings, etchings, lithographs and busts of Lincoln. The Lilly Endowment gift of $2.9 million made the acquisition of the collections possible. The Bank One Foundation also made a generous gift for school programs created around the collections.
The collections’ centerpiece is the original collodion wet-plate negative of the “Portrait of Abraham Lincoln,” made by Alexander Gardner. Lincoln sat for this portrait on November 8, 1863, just 11 days before delivering the Gettysburg Address. It is one of the best known photographs of Lincoln and was used by Sculptor Daniel Chester French as the model for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
A portion of the Lincoln collections consists of photographs, manuscripts, documents, books, pamphlets and newspapers relating to the trial and subsequent execution on July 7, 1865, of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Included are such items as the original five-page handwritten execution order to Maj. Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock and read by executing officer Gen. John Hartranft; original sequential photographs of the execution taken by Gardner, who was commissioned by the Army of the Potomac to document the execution; and small original carte de visite photographs of conspirators John Wilkes Booth, David Herold and John Surratt. The photo of Booth was used as a “mug shot” by Colonel Everton Conger to identify his body at Garrett’s barn where he was surrounded and killed on April 26, 1865. These items are featured in the book Lincoln’s Assassins: Their Trial and Execution written by James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg.
Another component of the collections consists of nearly 800 items including original photographs, lithographs, engravings and busts of Lincoln. These include contemporary and later images of Lincoln with his family, generals and cabinet members. Also included are political cartoons, illustrated sheet music and book and newspaper illustrations of the period.
These collections join more than 300 Lincoln items already in the Society’s collections, including a leaf from the sum book used by Lincoln as a boy in southern Indiana to record his school work; a legal document in Lincoln’s hand from 1840; letters to Thomas Ewing, senator from Ohio (1830-1836) and Schuyler Colfax, Grant’s Vice President from South Bend; endorsements of military and political appointments; an 1840 election ticket; letters of David Turnham, neighbor and friend of Lincoln in the 1820s and William H. Herndon, Lincoln’s law partner; letters from Indiana governor Oliver P. Morton regarding Indiana troops engaged in the Civil War; letters regarding the visits of both Lincoln’s inaugural train stop and his funeral train in Indianapolis; first editions of the published Lincoln-Douglas debates; and drawings by Hoosier Gen. Lew Wallace of the conspirators, created as Wallace sat on the military commission, appointed by President Andrew Johnson to try the conspirators.
The new collections will allow Indiana to showcase its ties to Lincoln. This will be done via a statewide trail that links the southwestern part of the state where Lincoln lived as a boy from 1816 to 1830, to Fort Wayne in northeastern Indiana, where the Lincoln Museum currently houses the largest private collection of Lincoln materials in the country.
The Indiana Historical Society will use the collections in numerous ways. After processing has been completed, the collection will be available for research in the William Henry Smith Library, open to the public five days a week. In the future, portions of the collections will be organized into thematic exhibitions that will travel the state. Items from the collections will also be used for upcoming exhibitions at the Society’s headquarters, the Indiana History Center. Visual images from the collection will also be highlighted in a book to be published by the Indiana Historical Society Press and distributed nationally for information and study.
Since 1830, the Indiana Historical Society has been Indiana’s storyteller, connecting people to the past by collecting, preserving, interpreting and disseminating Indiana history. The independent, nonprofit organization also publishes books and periodicals; sponsors teacher workshops; provides youth, adult and family programming; assists local historical groups throughout the state; and maintains the world’s largest collection of material on the history of Indiana and the Old Northwest. The Indiana Historical Society is one of the oldest historical societies in the United States, and one of the largest with more than 10,000 members. The Society opened a new 165,000-square-foot headquarters in downtown Indianapolis in July 1999.
Additional facts, art and information available. Please contact Carrie Wood, (317) 232-1878.
Indiana Historical Society
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