Lilly Library brings Lincoln to life

The Lilly Library is celebrating the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birthday with the exhibit “Remembering Lincoln.”

Most of the items in the collection were purchased by or given to the Lilly Library in the 1940s, said Becky Cape, head of reference and public services for the Lilly Library.

The exhibit contains three general sections, Cape said. The first part gives an overview of Indiana during the time Lincoln was growing up.

The second part involves the many ways in which Lincoln is remembered.

The third part reflects on Lincoln’s distinguished and illustrious presidency.

It might seem to be an obscure celebration for many Indiana residents, since Lincoln is often remembered as an Illinois lawyer and state legislator, Cape said.  

“Most people do not know that Lincoln actually spent a substantial portion of his childhood in Indiana, from around age 7 to age 21.” Cape said.

Junior Sarah Mamandur said she liked the portraits best.

“The portraits were eye-catching and seemed to really instill life in the exhibit,” she said.

Another article that seemed shocking to her was a copy of the Declaration of Independence.

“I had never been to the Lilly Library before, so I was just amazed that they had these sort of artifacts,” Mamandur said.

The exhibit features items such as a sheet from a practice book Lincoln used for arithmetic. It is one of only three pages in existence, Cape said.  

A shawl worn by Mary Todd Lincoln, copies of the Indiana Gazette and a sizable collection of rare Lincoln photographs are also in the exhibit.

Sophomore Ryan Fouch said the cabinet dedicated to Lincoln’s assassination was the most intriguing part of the collection. A group gathered around Fouch as he examined the seemingly popular exhibit.

Fouch said it is interesting to look at all of the artifacts involving the assassination of Lincoln, an astounding component in the history of the country.

His favorite artifact was a “wanted” poster for John Wilkes Booth and his accomplices that offered a considerable reward to anyone brave enough to revenge “our late beloved president.”

The exhibition is incredibly important to gathering insight as to who Lincoln really was and the importance of remembering him, Cape said. Some of the ideals that Lincoln lived by and incorporated into his presidency were those that he learned as a child. 

“Indiana, during the time Lincoln was growing up, was very much a frontier society that promoted self-reliance, honesty, the fair treatment of others and hard work in general,” Cape said.

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