The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) for providing funding to identify, process, and create descriptive finding aids and machine-readable cataloging records for the archival materials in the repository. Thanks goes to Lincoln Memorial University for contributing matching funds, and to the museum staff and various supporters who have contributed, in the past and during the present, their talents and efforts in the endeavor of acquiring, sustaining, and preserving one of the most significant 19th century historical collections in the nation. Special recognition goes to Steven M. Wilson, Assistant Director and Curator; and Dr. Charles M. Hubbard, Dean of Lincolniana. Special thanks is extended for support given by Dr. Edwin S. Gleaves, Coordinator of the Tennessee Historical Records Advisory Board, of the Tennessee State Library and Archives, and the late John H. Thweatt, Deputy Coordinator.
The Abraham Lincoln Collection is an assembled collection of various sources. It consists of various personal and presidential papers, documents, legal papers, ephemera, and other material that relates primarily to Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States. The collection includes some items from the personal libraries of Carl W. Schaefer and Foreman M. Lebold. The Abraham Lincoln Collection spans the years circa 1839 through 1865, with the bulk of the material covering the years 1844 through 1865. Additional sources housed in the repository, relating to Abraham Lincoln and the times in which he lived, include numerous rare books, pamphlets, sheet music, broadsides, scrapbooks, photographs, and artifacts.
Scope and Content
The Abraham Lincoln Collection, spanning the dates ca. 1839-1865, (with some undated material) consists of divisional groupings of material, such as the Presidential Papers, Legal Papers, etc. The bulk of the material spans the dates 1844-1865. The manuscript sources are cited and summarized in this guide, with an index. In addition to the listed and related source, ninety-seven (97) reels of microfilm of the Abraham Lincoln Papers (Library of Congress) are available for research. Other resources include approximately 10,000 books, vertical file material, pamphlets, sheet music, broadsides, scrapbooks, photographs, and newspapers: the vast majority on the subjects of Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War.
Arrangement and Description
Most of the series are arranged chronologically, the exception being the Legal Papers, which were arranged by case name, from A-Z. The various undated materials have been placed at the end of each file set.
The nucleus of the collection consists of the various papers, among them are the Legal Papers, consisting of more than 150 items. They originated circa 1839-1861 and include undated material. Significant among the other series are the Presidential Papers, comprised of both incoming and outgoing correspondence, memorandums, and other documents associated with President Lincoln. The inclusive date ranges are from December 1860 to March 1865 and include some undated material. Some of the documents originated while Lincoln was President-elect and are included in this series; altogether, the series contains over 70 items. The Personal Papers consists of only 4 items and range from circa 1849 to 1860. A Miscellaneous series (1853-1865; n.d.) is comprised of an eclectic group of Lincoln-related items, including a deed for a lot in the town of Lincoln, Sangamon County, Illinois (1853); a check written to Lincoln and Lamon (1854); a personal check issued by A. Lincoln, in the amount of $4,800.00, which historians say was for the purpose of dividing the cash with his law partner, Herndon; a wax imprint (personal seal of President Lincoln); various poems and proclamations in commemoration of President Lincoln; various autographs of Abraham Lincoln; and an issue of the New York Daily Tribune (May 6, 1865) carrying news of the assassination. The Ephemera includes, but is not limited to, campaign ribbons and two authentic theatre tickets from Ford’s Theatre that are dated April 14, 1865, the evening of Lincoln’s assassination, and March 27, 1865.
Cited in the Scrapbooks and Miscellaneous Newspaper Article Sources are several scrapbook collections and various newspaper articles and clippings that are chiefly related to Abraham Lincoln. Photographic Sources are arranged in three categories: 1) Albums, 2) Miscellaneous photographs, and 3) Oversized photographs. They chiefly feature Abraham Lincoln and the key figures, places, and events of the Civil War era. Additional selected resources are listed in Additional Related Sources, describing available resources such as an extensive carte-de-visite collection, photographs from the Meserve Collection, and other Lincoln-related material.
A collection of Lincoln Family Papers, being chiefly those of Mary Todd Lincoln and Robert Todd Lincoln, lists 20 items and spans from 1774 to ca. 1934. The collection includes a letter from Enoch Lincoln (1774) to “the Gentlemen, the Select-Men of Hingham,” and an essay about James Fenimore Cooper signed by A. Lincoln, the grandson of Abraham Lincoln (1886). The Papers of Lincoln’s Cabinet Members is comprised of 26 items that are chiefly outgoing correspondence or memorandums, with autographs of three cabinet members: Gideon Welles, William P. Fessenden, and James Speed. The dates span circa 1861-1889, and includes undated material.