On the eve of the 16th President’s bicentennial, the state where Abe Lincoln spent most of his boyhood and early adult years received some good news: the world’s largest private collection of Lincoln memorabilia would remain in Indiana. Having closed the Fort Wayne museum that had housed it, in June 2008, the Lincoln Financial Foundation had to designate the future home for the collection, which comprised over 230,000 items. Candidates including the venerable Smithsonian Institution in Washington and the state-of-the-art Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois were passed over in favor of two Indiana institutions.
The Allen County Public Library, in Fort Wayne, will receive most of the documents in the collection, which it will make readily available on the Internet. The Indiana State Museum, in Indianapolis, will accommodate the collection’s three-dimensional objects, in addition to signed original copies of the 13th Amendment and the Emancipation Proclamation. The inkwell Lincoln used in signing that order to abolish slavery, along with assorted personal effects and ephemera, are also part of the collection.
Born to a farming family in Kentucky on February 12, 1809, Lincoln moved with his parents to the area now known as Spencer County, Indiana in 1816, where he remained till the age of 21. The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial marks the site of the historic farmstead.