The Gettysburg Address returns

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Goes back on display July 1 to November 21 at Presidential Museum
 
 Springfield, IL – Four score and seventeen weeks ago, the State of Illinois’s original manuscript of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address was taken off of public display to give the document a well-deserved rest.  Now, on the 147th anniversary of the famous battle from which it derives its name, the document will temporarily return to public display in the Treasures Gallery at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum in Springfield, Illinois.
 
The Gettysburg Address will be placed back on display Thursday, July 1, a full 97 weeks after it was removed from public viewing in August 2008.  It will remain available for public viewing through Sunday, November 21, or two days after the anniversary of the day Lincoln gave the speech on November 19, 1863. 
 
“People ask us when the Gettysburg Address might go back on display, and in honor of the people who changed the course of history there, the answer is, right now,” said Lincoln Curator James Cornelius.
 
The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) rotates its collection of original Lincoln artifacts so that about three dozen are on public display at any given time while the remainder are stored in a secure, climate-controlled underground vault.  Original historical materials such as the Gettysburg Address remain in better condition if they are allowed to “rest” in a more controlled environment rather than remain on constant public display.
 
The vault in which the 52,000 items of the ALPLM Lincoln Collection are stored maintains a temperature of 65 degrees Fahrenheit, relative humidity of 43 percent, and — for the most valuable items — complete darkness, ideal conditions for paper conservation.  Conditions are close to these targets in the Museum’s Treasures Gallery, where fiber-optic lighting minimizes any natural fading of the ink.
 
There are five original handwritten versions of the Gettysburg Address.  Two are in the Library of Congress, one at Cornell University, and one in the Lincoln Bedroom of the White House.  The ALPLM’s copy, written out at the request of Edward Everett, the main speaker on November 19, 1863, at the Gettysburg Cemetery dedication, came to the State of Illinois in 1944 thanks to the contributions of pennies by Illinois schoolchildren plus a donation by department store magnate Marshall Field III.  The ALPLM copy contains the two additional words “under God” that Lincoln had not included in his two original file copies.
 
And what is the market value of what many would argue is one of the most important documents in American history?
 
“Since the State of Illinois does not sell its Lincoln artifacts, no one knows for certain what price it would bring,” said Cornelius.  “Suffice it to say, priceless.”          
The ALPLM’s Henry Horner Lincoln Collection also contains:

  • Nearly 1,600 original letters and manuscripts written or signed by Lincoln, including one of the Leland-Boker printings of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by the President
  • More than 250 historical artifacts associated with the sixteenth president and his family, including Lincoln’s original traveling shaving mirror, Tad Lincoln’s toy cannon, the skirt to Mary Lincoln’s wedding dress, and Robert Lincoln’s college keepsakes
  • Approximately 320 pieces of Mary Lincoln’s correspondence
  • The 46 letterpress books of Robert Lincoln’s professional career
  • More than 2,700 Lincoln-related prints and photographs
  • More than 1,100 broadsides
  • More than 14,000 books and pamphlets
  • More than 2,400 items of Lincoln artworks, crafts, and ephemera that reflect evolving notions of Lincoln and his legacy in the collective memory of the American people and the people of the world. 
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For more information, visit www.presidentlincoln.org.

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