LINCOLN LIBRARY ACQUIRES MOST SIGNIFICANT COLLECTION OF
LINCOLN ARTIFACTS IN PRIVATE HANDS
Abraham Lincoln is my name
and with my pen I wrote the same
I wrote in both haste and speed
and left it here for fools to read.
— Abraham Lincoln, age 15
1824 Sum Book, Taper Collection
Springfield — June 18, 2007 — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum announced today that it has acquired the Taper Collection, an unparalleled collection of more than 1,500 artifacts, manuscripts and artworks that span Lincoln's entire life and provide insight into the forces that shaped the man who shaped our nation. The collection is celebrated for its holdings, which shed light on Lincoln's dramatic personal life and his relationships with his wife and children, friends, colleagues, and even his enemies and detractors.
The acquisition of this unique collection has been made possible through purchase by the Lincoln Library and Museum and a generous gift from the Taper family. The acquisition greatly enhances the Museum's outstanding and far-ranging collection of documents and artifacts, and advances its position as the foremost center for the study of Lincoln's life, times, and enduring relevance.
Among the highlights of the Taper collection are:
- Lincoln's iconic stovepipe hat
- The bloodstained gloves and handkerchief Lincoln carried on the night of his death
- A vast number of artifacts, personal effects, and unpublished correspondence belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln
- An 1824 Sum Book page which contains the first known sample of Lincoln's writing
The Taper Collection also includes extensive holdings relating to the Booth family, including assassin John Wilkes Booth and his brothers, Junius Brutus Booth Jr. and Edwin Booth ó who ironically saved the life of Lincoln's son, Robert, two years before Lincoln's assassination. These artifacts offer a multifaceted portrait of the Booths, the first theatrical family in U.S. history, and go beyond the terrible act committed by John Wilkes Booth to show a family torn apart by the Civil War, like so many others.
The acquisition comes during a period of growing national fascination with Lincoln, one of the most beloved and most misunderstood figures in American history. Unlike other major collections of Lincoln artifacts, objects in the Taper Collection were acquired based not only on their use for scholars but on their emotional and intellectual value, providing new insight into Lincoln's rise from poverty, his relationship with his wife, and his despair over the death of two of his children.
"The Taper Collection is unprecedented in its breadth and depth, allowing us a new understanding not only of Lincoln as President, but as an intellectually and emotionally complex man," said Rick Beard, Executive Director of the Lincoln Presidential Library. "These artifacts are of incredible value not only to the scholarly study of Lincoln, but to the sense of ourselves as a nation and people that was so profoundly shaped by his ideals."
The Lincoln Library and Museum brings an innovative, experience-based approach to its audience, with multiple tableaus and interactive exhibits depicting the narrative of Lincoln's life and galleries containing many personal items used by the President and his wife. The Museum's mission, to move beyond mythology and provide visitors with an intimate and nuanced portrait of Lincoln, will be reinforced as items from the Taper Collection are incorporated into its programming and exhibitions.
The newly-acquired objects will be seen in Museum exhibits beginning July 3, 2007, with a small exhibition of items in the Museum's galleries. The Lincoln Library and Museum is also working to develop traveling exhibitions featuring key documents from the Taper Collection. The Treasures Gallery, a designated exhibition space within the Museum, will be renamed later this year in honor of Ms. Taper.
About the Taper Collection
Comprising an extraordinary number of high-quality artifacts and documents, the Taper Collection is unparalleled in its breadth among all private Lincoln collections. The collection was carefully built by Louise Taper, who first began to collect Lincoln artifacts after being deeply moved by a biographical novel about the marriage of the 16th President. Fascinated by Lincoln, "the human being, the family man", she took a part-time job with a manuscript dealer in Los Angeles, forgoing a salary in exchange for payment in historical documents. After a year, she had earned her first piece — a message written to Lincoln during the Civil War, with the President's signature at bottom. She has worked persistently since to acquire objects which not only documented Lincoln's presidential career, but which shed new light on his personal life, on his relationships with those closest to him, and on the unique circumstances of life during the Civil War.
Her interest in Lincoln was furthered by her 1985 marriage to Barry Taper, a member of the prominent Los Angeles Taper family and son of philanthropist S. Mark Taper. The resulting collection, which reflects Taper's passionate investment in Lincoln's history, includes the largest known (after the ALPLM collection) assortment of correspondence belonging to Mary Todd Lincoln as well as the most extensive archive of materials from the Booth Family. In addition to its value in scholarly study, the collection provides the most personal and nuanced portrait to date of Lincoln's rich and varied life.
"The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum has shown its wholehearted commitment to promoting and preserving the artifacts that illuminate all of Lincoln's history, not just as a President, but as a man, a father, a husband," said Louise Taper. "We are delighted to further the Library's mission through this gift of the collection, which we hope will allow the public to gain a fuller understanding of this complex and fascinating American leader."
About the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum
Combining showmanship and scholarship, the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) communicates the amazing life and times of Abraham Lincoln in unforgettable ways. Using advanced technologies often associated with popular entertainment, yet maintaining rigorous standards of scholarship, the ALPLM provides a fully immersive experience, enabling 21st-century visitors to inhabit Lincoln's life and times. Open since April 2005, the ALPLM has welcomed over 1 million visitors.
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