Gettysburg Address returns to public display
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[June 25, 2008]
Two score and 12 weeks ago, the state of Illinois' original
manuscript of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address was taken off public
display to give the document a well-deserved rest. Now, on the 145th
anniversary of the famous battle from which it derives its name, the
document will temporarily return to public display in the Treasures
Gallery at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield.
The Gettysburg Address will be placed back on display on July 1,
exactly one year after it was removed from public viewing. It will
remain available for public viewing until Aug. 20, at which time a
major new exhibit of original Lincoln items will fill the museum's
"The Gettysburg Address was on display in the Treasures Gallery
for the first two years of the museum's existence," said Rick Beard,
executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and
Museum. "We are pleased to once again offer this ‘crowd favorite'
for our museum visitors."
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum rotates its
collection of original Lincoln artifacts so a number are on public
display at any given time, while the remainder are stored in a
secure, climate-controlled underground vault. Original historical
materials such as the Gettysburg Address remain in better condition
if they are allowed to "rest" in a more controlled environment
rather than remain on constant public display.
The vault in which the 50,000 items of the ALPLM Lincoln
Collection are stored maintains ideal conditions for paper
conservation: a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, relative
humidity of 43 percent and -- for the most valuable items --
complete darkness. Conditions are close to those targets in the
museum's Treasures Gallery, where fiber-optic lighting minimizes any
natural fading of the ink.
There are five original handwritten versions of the Gettysburg
Address. Two are in the Library of Congress, one at Cornell
University and one in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House. The
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum's copy, written out
at the request of Edward Everett, the main speaker on Nov. 19, 1863,
at the Gettysburg Cemetery dedication, came to the state of Illinois
in 1943 thanks to the contributions of pennies by Illinois
schoolchildren plus a donation by department store magnate Marshall
Field III. This copy contains the two additional words "under God"
that Lincoln had not included in his two original file copies.
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And what is the market value of what many would argue is one of
the most important documents in American history? "Since the state
of Illinois does not sell its Lincoln artifacts, no one knows for
certain what price it would bring," said Beard. "Suffice it to say,
The presidential library and museum's Henry Horner Lincoln
Collection also contains:
original letters and manuscripts written or signed by Lincoln.
More than 250
historical artifacts associated with the 16th president and his
family, including the Leland-Boker printing of the Emancipation
Proclamation signed by the president, Lincoln's original
traveling shaving mirror, Tad Lincoln's toy cannon, the skirt to
Mary Lincoln's wedding dress and Robert Lincoln's college
items of Mary Lincoln correspondence.
The 46 letterpress
books of Robert Lincoln's professional career.
More than 1,000
Lincoln-related prints and photographs.
More than 1,000
More than 10,000
books and pamphlets.
More than 1,000 items of Lincoln
ephemera, artworks and crafts reflecting evolving views of
Lincoln and his legacy in the collective memory of the American
people and the people of the world.
For more information, visit
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
file received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]