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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

Teaching Lincoln with Primary Sources

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Introduction | Primary Sources and Analysis Tools 
Library of Congress Resources | Primary Source Set

Choose a link below to access printable PDF versions of these materials including additional information, color images and citations.
Teaching President Lincoln with Primary Sources Resource Booklet 
Primary Source Set

Library of Congress Resources


The African American Odyssey: A Quest for Full Citizenship.
This exhibition showcases the incomparable African American collections of the Library of Congress. Displaying more than 240 items, including books, government documents, manuscripts, maps, musical scores, plays, films, and recordings. A section of the exhibition focuses on the Emancipation Proclamation. Accessed 1.26.09

American Treasures of the Library of Congress. 
Memory Section. Death of a President.  Eight key items relative to the death of President Abraham Lincoln and the impact it had on Americans.

The Gettysburg Address
The exhibit presents drafts of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln's invitation to Gettysburg and the only known photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg.

From Haven to Home: 350 Years of Jewish Life in America 
The exhibition contains more than two hundred treasures of American Judaica from the collections of the Library of Congress. It features two letters concerning the Jewish vote that were sent to Lincoln on the eve of the 1864 presidential election. Also included are materials related to General Grant's Order No. 11, which expelled the "Jews as a class" from territories of Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee.
Accessed 1.26.09

Prints and Photographs

The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
These images were selected from the collections of the Library of Congress in response to requests regularly received by the Prints and Photographs Division. Some of the images included are of Ford’s Theatre, wanted posters and pictures of the conspirators. Accessed 1.26.09

Pictorial Americana Presidential Campaigns
contains campaign material for the 1860 and 1864 election including banners, cartoons and portraits.

Pictorial Americana: Civil War 1862
This section of the Prints and Photographs Division contains lithographs from many Civil War battles, drawings of life as a soldier and images of Lincoln on the battlefield of Antietam.

American Memory

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. Begun by Mr. Stern in the 1920s, the collection 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.

The collection contains more than 11,100 items. This online release presents more than 1,300 items with more than 4,000 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. Accessed 4.21.09

Lincoln, Abraham ~Papers~ ca. 1850-1865 
The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress consist of 20,000 documents including incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, notes and printed material. Most items are from the 1850s through the presidential years. Treasures include a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, draft of his second Inaugural Address and August 23, 1864 memorandum expressing expectations of being defeated for re-election in the upcoming presidential contest.
Accessed 1.26.09 /alhtml/malhome.html

An American Time Capsule: Three Centuries of Broadsides and Other Printed Ephemera
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. Highlights from this collection include a copy of Lincoln’s second inaugural address, a telegram from the War Department announcing Lincoln’s assassination and a broadside advertising $100,000 reward for the capture of the assassination conspirators.
Accessed 1.26.09

By Popular Demand: Portraits of the Presidents and First Ladies, 1789-Present 
This collection presents portraits of U.S. presidents and first ladies, including seven images related to Abraham Lincoln and one of Mary Todd Lincoln.

Civil War Treasures from the New-York Historical Society
The images in this digital collection are drawn from the New-York Historical Society's rich archival collections that document the Civil War. Items related to Abraham Lincoln include pictorial envelopes, stereographs, drawings, and etchings.

A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875
This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to Abraham Lincoln's political career as a member of the House of Representatives and as U.S. president. The Congressional Globe contains congressional debate and presidential messages from Lincoln's service in the House of Representatives (1847-49) and his presidency (1861-65), including Lincoln's speech against the Mexican War Accessed 1.26.09

The Frederick Douglass Papers at the Library of Congress  
This collection presents the papers of the nineteenth-century African-American abolitionist who escaped from slavery and then risked his own freedom by becoming an outspoken antislavery lecturer, writer, and publisher. The Douglass Papers contain approximately 7,400 items (38,000 images) relating to Douglass's life. It also includes a letter Douglass wrote to Lincoln on August 29, 1864, concerning a plan for helping slaves escape from the South.
Accessed 1.26.09

"I Do Solemnly Swear...": Presidential Inaugurations
This collection contains approximately 400 items relating to presidential inaugurations, including Lincoln's first inauguration in 1861 and his second inauguration in 1865.

The Nineteenth Century in Print: Books 
The books in this collection bear nineteenth-century American imprints, dating mainly from between 1850 and 1880. They have been digitized by the University of Michigan as part of the Making of America project, a major collaborative endeavor to preserve and provide access to historical texts. There are ten books related to Abraham Lincoln in this collection.

Selected Civil War Photographs Collection 
The Selected Civil War Photographs Collection contains 1,118 photographs. Most of the images were made under the supervision of Mathew B. Brady, and include scenes of military personnel, preparations for battle, and thirty photographs related to Abraham Lincoln.
Accessed 1.26.09

Washington during the Civil War: The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft, 1861-1865 This collection presents three manuscript volumes that document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. The diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot.
Accessed 1.26.09

Words and Deeds in American History: Selected Documents Celebrating the Manuscript Division's First 100 Years  
In honor of the Manuscript Division's centennial, its staff has selected for online display approximately ninety representative documents spanning from the fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century. The collection contains nine documents related to Abraham Lincoln, including a page of Lincoln's student sum book and a draft of Lincoln's instructions to Major Robert Anderson in command at Fort Sumter, Charleston, South Carolina, dated April 4, 1861.
Accessed 1.26.09

America's Library

Meet Amazing Americans: Abraham Lincoln 
Designed for elementary and middle-school students, America's Library provides a variety of stories about Abraham Lincoln, including information about his youth, his sense of humor, and the contents of his pockets the night he was assassinated.


Lincoln’s Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words
Considered a simpleton by Civil War-era literati, Abraham Lincoln shocked the intellectual establishment with his considerable prowess with a pen. From the Gettysburg Address to the Emancipation Proclamation, the president used his words to hold the nation together and exert his political power. Leading Lincoln scholar Douglas L. Wilson discussed his new book, "Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words" in a program sponsored by the Center for the Book. Accessed 1.26.09

Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
Attorney and Lincoln scholar James L. Swanson discussed his best-selling book "Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer" in a program sponsored by the Library's Center for the Book. "Manhunt" (Morrow, 2006) has received outstanding reviews and is now on both the New York Times and Publishers Weekly best seller lists. According to historian James McPherson, "this riveting hour-by-hour account of Lincoln's assassination, Booth's escape and the pursuit that finally ran down and killed him is a truly remarkable narrative." Accessed 1.26.09

Lincoln’s Other White House: The Untold Story of a Man and His Presidency Elizabeth Smith Brownstein, discussed her new book, "Lincoln's Other White House; the Untold Story of the Man and His Presidency," in a lecture sponsored by the Humanities & Social Sciences Division. Using diaries, letters and (often amusing) eyewitness accounts, she offered new insight into the life of President Lincoln and his family at the Soldiers Home, called the most important unknown presidential site by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Accessed 1.26.09

Wise Guide

The “Parallel Lives” of Lincoln and Whitman
Two larger-than-life figures in American history, Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) and Walt Whitman (1819-1892), were contemporaries who lived during one of the most tumultuous times in America: the Civil War. A new book by Daniel Mark Epstein, "Lincoln and Whitman: Parallel Lives in Civil War Washington" (Random House), recounts the common experiences and beliefs shared by these two men who never met. Accessed 1.26.09

What’s in Your Pocket?
In the case of Lincoln, the contents of his pockets on the night of his assassination are both revealing and mysterious. There is nothing unusual about some items Lincoln carried with him: two pairs of eyeglasses, a lens polisher, a pocketknife, a linen handkerchief, a watch fob and a brown leather wallet. But the wallet held a $5 Confederate note and nine newspaper clippings. No one can say for sure why Lincoln carried a Confederate note, but perhaps he wanted it as a souvenir of an institution that had died in America three days earlier with the April 11, 1865 surrender of Gen. Robert E. Lee to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox, Va. Accessed 1.26.09

Honestly Abe, Is That You?

Details of Abraham Lincoln's second inauguration have come into clearer focus with the recent discovery at the Library of Congress of three glass negatives that show the large crowd gathered at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., for the president's address on March 4, 1865. Accessed 1.26.09

“We Must Not be Enemies”
When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, he assumed leadership of a nation torn asunder. Lincoln's stirring inaugural address included the words: "I am loth [sic] to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. Accessed 1.26.09

Web Guides

Abraham Lincoln: A Resource Guide
Created by Kenneth Drexler, Digital Reference Specialist, the digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of material associated with Abraham Lincoln, including the complete Abraham Lincoln Papers from the Manuscript Division. This resource guide compiles links to digital materials related to Lincoln such as manuscripts, letters, broadsides, government documents, and images that are available throughout the Library of Congress Web site. In addition, it provides links to external Web sites focusing on Lincoln and a bibliography containing selected works for both general and younger readers. Accessed 1.26.09

Presidents as Poets: Poetry Written by United States Presidents
Many presidents of the United States, including Abraham Lincoln, have turned to poetry at certain points in their lives as an outlet for their feelings and thoughts, or to explore the resources of the English language. Accessed 1.26.09

Primary Documents in American History
A list of some key documents in American history from 1863-1877. Each has a page with background information, links to associated digital material and bibliographies. Those relative to Abraham Lincoln include the Homestead Act, Pacific Railway Act, Gettysburg Address, 13th Amendment, Morrill Act and the Emancipation Proclamation.

Teachers Page

Today in History
is designed to help educators use American Memory Collections to teach history and culture.

Oh Captain! My Captain!: February 9
On February 9, 1888, Walt Whitman penned a note to the publishers of The Riverside Literature Series  No. 32 calling attention to mistakes in their recently printed version of his poem, "O Captain! My Captain!" Whitman originally wrote "O Captain! My Captain!" in response to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
Accessed 1.26.09

Abraham Lincolns First Inauguration: March 4
On Monday, March 4, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office and delivered his first inaugural address.
Accessed 1.26.09

The Assassination of President Lincoln: April 14
Shortly after 10 P.M. on April 14, 1865, actor John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. and fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln. Accessed 1.26.09

Abolition in the District of Columbia: April 16
On April 16, 1862, President Lincoln signed an act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, an important step in the long road toward full emancipation and enfranchisement for African Americans.
Accessed 1.26.09

The Homestead Act: May 20
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Act on May 20, 1862. The act provided settlers with 160 acres of surveyed public land after payment of a filing fee and five years of continuous residence.
Accessed 1.26.09

Yosemite: June 30
President Abraham Lincoln signed the Yosemite Valley Grant Act, Senate Bill 203, on June 30, 1864. The legislation gave California the Yosemite Valley and the nearby Mariposa Big Tree Grove "upon the express conditions that the premises shall be held for public use, resort, and recreation."
Accessed 1.26.09

The Emancipation Proclamation: September 22
On September 22, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, threatening to free all the slaves in the states in rebellion if those states did not return to the Union by January 1, 1863.
Accessed 1.26.09

Mary Todd Lincoln: November 2
Mary Todd Lincoln corresponded with her husband on November 2, 1862, advising him of popular sentiment against the cautious commanding of General of the Army of the Potomac George B. McClellan.
Accessed 1.26.09

Gettysburg Address: November 19 
On November 19, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. President Abraham Lincoln delivered a short speech at the close of ceremonies dedicating the battlefield cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Requested to offer a few remarks, Lincoln memorialized the Union dead and highlighted the redemptive power of their sacrifice. Placing the common soldier at the center of the struggle for equality, Lincoln reminded his listeners of the higher purpose for which blood was shed.
Accessed 1.26.09

Lesson Plans
The Learning Page lesson plans below give a grade level for each lesson but with a little modification almost any lesson can be altered to any grade level.

After Reconstruction
(Grades 9-12) Students identify problems and issues facing African Americans immediately after Reconstruction using text based sources.

The Civil War Through A Child’s Eyes  
(Grades 6-8) Students use literature and photographs to view the Civil War from a child's perspective.

Ladies, Contraband and Spies: Women in the Civil War  
(Grades 10-11) Students look at a series of document galleries to see the perspectives of slave women, plantation mistresses, female spies, and Union women during the Civil War. Ultimately, students understand the human consequences of this war for women. 

Matthew Brady Bunch
(Grades 6-12) Students become newspaper reporters, analyzing a Civil War photograph and writing an article based on the photograph.

(Grades 5-8) Students explore how and why war has been photographed and the bias within the recording/reporting of war.

What Do You See?
(Grades 5-12) Students analyze Civil War photographs, and develop links between the Civil War and American industrialization.

Presentations and Activities

How have American elections changed over time? What similarities can we see in elections of yesteryear and today?

Inaugurations: Stepping into History
Discover what inauguration ceremonies over the centuries can teach us about our changing nation and the leaders who have shaped it.

Themed Resources

Abraham Lincoln
This section of the Learning Page will give you other areas on the Library of Congress website to explore. You will find collections in American Memory, search terms and you can even read the transcripts from the live chat session.

Civil War
This topic for the Community Center covers almost everything from slavery to maps of the Civil War. You will find collections in American Memory, lesson plans and much more.

Collection Connection

Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress
Themes and subheadings are History (Biography: Abraham Lincoln’s Early Years, Lincoln’s Congressional Career: Debates over Slavery in the Territories, Lincoln’s 1860 Presidential Campaign, Secession and Inauguration, Civil War Battles and Strategy, The Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln’s Reelection and Reconstruction), Critical Thinking (Chronological Thinking: Foreign Affairs During the Civil War, Historical Comprehension: Abraham Lincoln to Albert C. Hodges, Historical Analysis and Interpretation, Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making: Civil Liberties During Wartime and Historical Research Capabilities: The Fort Pillow Massacre, the Sioux Uprising and the New York Draft Riots) and Arts & Humanities (The Gettysburg Address, Lincoln the Writer, Nineteenth-Century Poetry, Letter Writing: Audience, Tone & Persuasion, and Public Speaking).

Civil War Maps
Although the entire collection is relative to the Presidency, there are specific sections that mention President Lincoln specifically.  Be sure to see at “The War at Sea” section within the History theme.

A Civil War Soldier in the Wildcat Regiment: Selections from the Tilton C. Reynolds Papers
Although the entire collection is relative to the Presidency, there are sections that mention President Lincoln specifically.   The theme and subheadings that specifically mention President Lincoln is History (Camp Life and Election of 1864).

Related Pages

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