The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, which opened at its current location in October, 2004, is one of the most popular presidential museums in America. The Library was originally created in 1899 by the Illinois General Assembly. Over a century old, it is a public facility that contains material on all aspects of Illinois’ history. Among the documents are letters and diaries from Civil War soldiers, as well as the papers of Illinois businesses, individuals, and government officials. There are particularly interesting collections dealing with slavery in Illinois and the state’s place in westward expansion.
The Museum and its interactive, state-of-the art technology bring Lincoln to life. Guests will experience the story of Lincoln through traditional galleries with family artifacts, photographs, and statuary. But, the pride of the museum is Union Theatre and the Ghosts of the Library theatre where the story of Lincoln is told through a system of layered digital projection screens and special effects.
Did you know?
- The museum is home to a monumental plaster head of Lincoln, sculpted by Gutzon Borglum, who later designed Mount Rushmore.
- The Library contains almost 1,600 original letters and manuscripts written or signed by Lincoln and approximately 320 pieces of Mary Lincoln’s correspondence.
- One of the Featured Artifacts of the museum is the Effigy Doll. These dolls were created during the presidential campaigns. The dolls were made from common household items like buttons, real hair, and sturdy, simple cloth. Dolls of this sort were thrown into bonfires at pro-slavery or Democratic rallies.
- Lincoln remains by far the least electorally successful president in American history. He won just 39.6% of the popular vote in 1860, and 55% in 1864 when only the Union states voted.