"The stovepipe hat is the most recognizable symbol of our 16th
president. This artifact and more than 1,500 other items from the
Taper Collection add to the state's treasure trove of Lincoln
materials," said Rick Beard, executive director of the presidential
library and museum. "The Taper Collection is unprecedented in its
breadth and depth, allowing us a new understanding not only of
Lincoln as president, but as an intellectually and emotionally
Louise Taper, a noted Lincoln scholar and collector
from Los Angeles, and her late husband, Barry, assembled the largest
private collection of manuscripts and artifacts belonging to Abraham
Lincoln, Mary Todd Lincoln, and their ancestors and descendants. The
collection covers every phase of Lincoln's life, from his earliest
known manuscript to his cuff link, handkerchief and blood-stained
gloves from the night of his assassination at Ford's Theatre. She
also amassed the largest number of letters and artifacts belonging
to John Wilkes Booth and other members of the Booth family.
The acquisition of this unique
collection was made possible through a purchase by the Abraham
Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation and a generous gift from the
Taper family. Many pieces are now displayed in The Treasures Gallery
Presented by the Louise and Barry Taper Family Foundation,
A 1778 receipt for a
fife and drum bought during the American Revolution by President
Lincoln's grandfather, also named Abraham Lincoln.
Locks of hair encased
with photos of three members of the Lincoln family.
correspondence with important social, literary and military
figures, plus her blood-soaked fan from Ford's Theatre.
Love letters and
gifts sent by John Wilkes Booth.
The first page of
teenaged Lincoln's math practice booklet, the oldest writing in
The clock from
Lincoln's law office.
The only joke Lincoln
ever wrote out.
Lincoln's iconic beaver-fur stovepipe
"I am thrilled that my collection will
remain together in the perfect setting for eternity," Louise Taper
[to top of second column]
Taper began to collect Lincoln artifacts after being deeply moved by
a novel about the 16th president's marriage, Irving Stone's "Love is
Eternal." She took a part-time job with a manuscript dealer in Los
Angeles, forgoing a salary in exchange for payment in historical
documents. After a year, she had earned her first piece -- a message
written to Lincoln during the Civil War, with the president's
signature at bottom. Since then she has worked to acquire objects
that not only document Lincoln's presidential career, but shed new
light on his personal life, relationships and life during the Civil
War. Her interest in Lincoln was furthered by her 1985 marriage to
Barry Taper, a member of the prominent Los Angeles Taper family and
son of philanthropist S. Mark Taper.
Louise Taper is co-author of "'Right or Wrong, God Judge Me': The
Writings of John Wilkes Booth." She was the originator of the
exhibition "'The Last Best Hope of Earth': Abraham Lincoln and the
Promise of America," which was at the Huntington Library in San
Marino, Calif., in 1993-94 and the Chicago Historical Society in
1996-97. Nearly half of the pieces exhibited were from her
Taper received a congressional appointment to the Abraham Lincoln
Bicentennial Commission in June 2000. She serves on the boards of
the Abraham Lincoln Association, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential
Library Foundation, Ford's Theatre Society, the Ulysses S. Grant
Association, Lincoln College, The Papers of Abraham Lincoln and the
Manuscript Society. In 2006 she received an Award for Outstanding
Achievement as advising historian to the Abraham Lincoln
Presidential Library and Museum.
Taper also served as research and technical advisor for the
television mini-series "Sandburg's Lincoln," which starred Hal
Holbrook and was produced by David Wolper.
Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum file
received from the
Illinois Office of
Communication and Information]