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Library of Congress - Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

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The Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana:

Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960) of Chicago presented his outstanding collection of Lincolniana, to the Library of Congress in 1953. His collection, which he began to assemble in the 1920s, documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics.

“My interest in the subject of Abraham Lincoln,” he explains, “began in October 1923 at Atlantic City, where, with my wife and children, I had gone for a vacation. It had been intended to bring along schoolbooks, but, at the last moment, they were forgotten. In my quest for a book from which to assist my eldest son, John A. Stern, with his lessons in reading I hit upon an anthology of Mr. Lincoln’s writings. It proved an excellent substitute for the abandoned primer, furnishing, as it did, worthwhile subject matter, expressed in short, simple words and uncomplicated sentences.” Out of that simple experience, Stern’s fascination with Abraham Lincoln began and eventually grew until he had amassed the most extensive collection of Lincolniana ever assembled by a private individual.

The collection contains more than 11,100 items. This online release presents 1,583 items with a total of 4,640 images and a date range of 1824-1931. It includes the complete collection of Stern’s contemporary newspapers, Lincoln’s law papers, sheet music, broadsides, prints, cartoons, maps, drawings, letters, campaign tickets, and other ephemeral items. The books and pamphlets in this collection are scheduled for digitization at a later date.

Highlights of the online collection include Lincoln’s own scrapbook of the 1858 political campaign against Stephen A. Douglas; the Tiffany seed pearl necklace and bracelets that Lincoln gave to his wife, Mary Todd; a Lincoln life mask cast in bronze by Clark Mills, as well as the contents of Lincoln’s pockets on the evening of his assassination. Probably the single most famous Lincoln manuscript in the collection is the January 26, 1863, letter to General Joseph Hooker, placing him in command of the Army of the Potomac.

To learn more about the Stern collection, visit: http://www.loc.gov/rr/rarebook/coll/233.html