The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened its doors in 2005, but its roots go back to the 19th century. Originally created in 1889 as the Illinois State Historical Library, it occupied only a couple of rooms in the State Capitol. Its mission was to collect and share materials related to Illinois history. Under that umbrella, it built a vast collection of manuscripts, books, artifacts, artwork, newspapers, audiovisual materials, and more.
Such a robust Illinois collection would naturally include numerous objects related to Abraham Lincoln, his family, his legacy, and his times. Hence, just over a century after its founding, the library rebranded under the name of the 16th president and relocated to its present campus, which includes a state-of-the-art museum to show off treasures from the 13 million items in its collection. This exhibit reproduces some of those treasures and stories from Lincoln’s life.
Abraham Lincoln steered the United States through its greatest crisis—The Civil War. Born in a log cabin and self-educated, he became one of Illinois’s most respected lawyers and politicians. As Lincoln struggled to keep the country united, he also helped foster a “new birth of freedom” without the institution of slavery.
Abraham Lincoln delivered his most famous speech, “The Gettysburg Address,” on November 19, 1863. He eloquently paid tribute to the soldiers who sought to preserve American democracy on that battlefield. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum proudly holds one of only 5 existing versions in Lincoln’s hand.
Abraham Lincoln is the most famous and written-about American in history. Statues and monuments to him dot the landscape. Lincoln casts such a long shadow and is such a key part of the national identity that some have suggested all Americans need to engage with his legacy.