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State's historical library salutes a pioneer

Lincoln Presidential Library celebrates 125 years of history by honoring 'The Library Lady' on April 6

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[March 27, 2014]  SPRINGFIELD Illinois built one of the nation's leading historical libraries thanks to the vision of Jessie Palmer Weber, who guided the institution from 1898 to 1926. As the library now renamed the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library celebrates its 125th year, it is honoring Weber on April 6 with a reception and installation of her portrait.

The event includes a presentation on Weber's life and an appearance by the librarian in the form of historical interpreter Gwen Podeschi. Cake and punch will also be served in the library atrium from 2 to 5 p.m.

This event is free and open to the public, but a reservation is required. Visit or call 217-558-8934. Admission to the museum is not included in the reservation.

The Illinois State Historical Library was founded in 1889. Weber took over as director nearly a decade later and oversaw collecting newspapers, photographs and documents that, together, preserved the story of Illinois.

The library began with just 442 books. By 1910, it had 28,680. Today, the collection includes 200,000 books, over 400,000 audiovisual items and millions of documents.

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Weber helped establish the Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, prepared exhibits for events such as the 1904 World's Fair in St. Louis, and helped plan commemorations of the 50th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and the 100th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

Weber, the daughter of an Illinois governor and U.S. senator, said her goal was nothing less than "a complete history of the state and its counties and towns, collected at the capital."

The library was particularly important for its collection of documents from the life and career of Abraham Lincoln. That collection made it possible to create the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library in 2004.

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

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