Illinois State Historical Society Superior Achievement Award 2015
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois, houses a trove of invaluable historical resources concerning all aspects of the Prairie State’s past. Treasures of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library commemorates the institution’s 125-year history, as well as its contributions to scholarship and education by highlighting a selection of eighty-five treasures from among more than twelve million items in the library’s collections.
After opening with a historical overview and extensive chronology of the Library, the volume organizes the treasures by various topics, including items that illustrate various locations and materials relating to business, the mid-nineteenth century and the Civil War, World Wars I and II, the oldest items, unusual treasures, ethnicity, and art. From the Gettysburg Address, Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s letters, and Governor Dan Walker’s boots to a Deering Harvester Company catalog, WPA publications, and an Adlai Stevenson I campaign hat, each entry includes a thorough description of the item, one or more images, and a discussion of its history and how the library acquired it, if known. Other treasures include the Thomas Yates General Store daybook, Dubin Pullman car materials, Civil War newspapers, a Lincoln coffin photograph, the Mary Lincoln insanity verdict, the Directory of Sangamon County’s Colored Citizens, andLincoln’s stovepipe hat.
To highlight the academic importance of the Library, nineteen researchers share how study in the Library’s collections proved essential to their projects. Although these treasures only scrape the surface of the vast holdings of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, together they epitomize the rich, varied, and sometimes quirky resources available to both serious scholars and curious tourists alike at this valuable cultural institution.