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Large donation to Lincoln Presidential Library tells an Illinois family's story through 5 generations

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[April 11, 2012]  SPRINGFIELD -- Franklin Pierce won the United States presidential election; Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" was published; Illinois Gov. Augustus C. French had eliminated the state's debt and managed to avoid the public scandals of his predecessor; and Abraham Lincoln was a lawyer and former congressman. The year was 1852, and that was also the year a Portuguese immigrant began saving family papers that would be donated to the state of Illinois 160 years later.

His great-great-grandson David J. Langum Sr. has now donated the entire collection of family papers, photographs, and audio and video recordings to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield. The materials are a rich resource for anyone doing research from the mid-1800s to the present on such topics as childhood, postsecondary education from professional and student viewpoints, economics and financial regulation, legal education, scholarly research and publication, and the Protestant Portuguese in Illinois. The collection totals more than 90 archival boxes and 7,000 photographic images.

"Many of my ancestors were world-class pack rats but lacked equivalent archival skills," said Langum. "I have spent more than 10 years sorting their papers out and now am very pleased that they have a fine permanent home and are available for research."

"This multigenerational collection is truly a gem for students and historians," said Eileen Mackevich, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. "The breadth covered by the material is astonishing, and it provides a close look at an American family as they experienced 160 years of history."

The donation includes the following:

De Mattos family papers, 1852-1929, 2001-2006

Antonio De Mattos, from Madeira Island, Portugal, settled in Jacksonville with wife Isabella and organized the Portuguese Presbyterian Church there in 1849. Their descendants included the first mayor of Whatcom, which later became New Whatcom and then Bellingham, Wash.

Henry Langum papers, 1911-1967

Henry Langum was born in 1882, the son of Norwegian immigrants who settled in Lake County, S.D. He was a teacher, minister and chiropractor. He and his wife, Anna, had three children, one of whom, John, an economist, was a vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago.

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John K. Langum papers, 1913-2001

John K. Langum was born in 1913 and was the owner and president of Business Economics Inc., founded in 1951 in Chicago; vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, 1941-1951; economics lecturer at the University of Minnesota, University of California-Berkeley, University of Chicago, Northwestern University and University of Indiana; and an expert witness in finance and rate of return, most notably in the Illinois Bell Telephone case.

Virginia Anne Langum papers, 1918-1971

Virginia Anne de Mattos Langum was born in 1918 and died in 1967 at Elgin. She was active in numerous Elgin area civic activities.

David J. Langum Sr. papers, 1940-2011

David J. Langum Sr. was born in 1940 and raised in Elgin. He has been a legal historian and professor of law at numerous colleges and universities in Alabama, Nevada, Michigan, California and Washington. He is past president and director of the ACLU of Alabama, founder of The Langum Charitable Trust and author of six university press books.


Travel grants to study the De Mattos and Langum family papers are available from The Langum Charitable Trust. For details and guides to the papers, see

For more information about the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, visit

[Text from Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum file received from the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency]


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