ALPLM to celebrate Juneteenth by displaying Emancipation Proclamation


SPRINGFIELD – As America celebrates Juneteenth, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will give everyone a chance to see a rare copy of the document that played a key role in this historic day of freedom, the Emancipation Proclamation.

The proclamation, which bears the signature of Abraham Lincoln, will be displayed June 19-23 and June 26-30 in the ALPLM’s library building, where there is no charge for admission. The address is 112 N. Sixth Street in downtown Springfield. The library is open 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.

The ALPLM will also launch a new online tool letting people around the world explore the proclamation, its meaning and its impact on history. Just click on key words in the document and up pop boxes full of helpful information. The site will include educational resources for teachers and parents, a photo gallery and links to other sources of information about the address. The site will be available at starting June 19.

“Few documents in all of American history carry the weight of the Emancipation Proclamation. We are proud to share it with the public and celebrate its connection to such a joyous holiday,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

President Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing anyone enslaved in states trying to secede from the Union. But the proclamation could not be enforced until federal troops captured Southern territory. That meant many people remained in chains until the end of the Civil War.

Among them were the enslaved people of Galveston, Texas, who achieved freedom with the arrival of federal troops on June 19, 1865. The anniversary of that “Juneteenth” became an annual celebration that gradually spread across the country and came to symbolize the end of slavery, although that was not totally abolished until the 13th Amendment was ratified six months later.

The ALPLM’s copy of the proclamation is one of about two dozen remaining. It is signed by both Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward.

The ALPLM is also presenting a display about the history of Black Americans and their fight for full citizenship. The graphic appears on windows along one side of the museum and includes a timeline running from 1787 to present and touches on slavery in the supposedly free state of Illinois, a riot that targeted Black people in Springfield, and Juneteenth celebrations in Lincoln’s hometown. It was developed by Juneteenth Inc. and the Illinois State Museum.

The presidential library’s staff will also commemorate Juneteenth by:

  • Offering an activity table with hands-on crafts for children and a reproduction of the Emancipation Proclamation during the “Juneteenth Block Party” at the Illinois State Museum on Friday, June 16, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
  • Joining Springfield’s Juneteenth celebration at Comer Cox Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on June 17. We’ll have a button maker so folks can design and make their own buttons.

The mission of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is to inspire civic engagement through the diverse lens of Illinois history and sharing with the world the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln. We pursue this mission through a combination of rigorous scholarship and high-tech showmanship built on the bedrock of the ALPLM’s unparalleled collection of historical materials – roughly 13 million items from all eras of Illinois history.

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