Lincoln and His Legacy: A Bicentennial ExhibitionThomas Cooper Library West Gallery
Feb 1, 2009 - Apr 30, 2009
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809, the same year as Charles Darwin, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and Edgar Allan Poe. He died at the relatively young age of 56, having in this time served four terms in the Illinois state legislature, only one term in Congress, and having passed one month into his second term as President. The now-mythological story of his rise from a two-room log cabin to the White House is imbued with our very conception about the characteristics of being American, and what this definition means to us as citizens in each passing decade since his death. Lincoln’s biographers are legion; the quantity of scholarship and popular literature on him continues unabated, and has only increased with each passing year. In troubled times, politically and economically, Lincoln’s example is a consolation; in prosperous and celebratory times, his example is also heavily drawn upon. And as another Illinois lawyer has now assumed the Presidency, new connections to Lincoln continue to be drawn. No one exhibition can encompass all of popular and scholarly thought on Abraham Lincoln; instead, we here offer some original documents from the collections of the Department of Rare Books and Special Collections to mark the bicentennial of his birth this February 12th, and invite further inquiries. This exhibition, which briefly traces Lincoln’s life and times from original source materials, has as its core the library’s Francis Lord Civil War Collection. Other items from drawn from gifts of Professors G. Ross Roy and Robert D. Ochs, the Joel Myerson Collection of Nineteenth Century American Literature, and the Joseph M. Bruccoli Great War Collection.