National Archives, Smithsonian & Library of Congress Announce Lincoln Bicentennial Events

The National Archives, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Library of Congress have all recently announced special programs and exhibits to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth throughout 2009.

The National Archives will celebrate Lincoln’s bicentennial with special films, public programs, lectures and document displays that will provide historical insight into Lincoln’s effect on such things as the Constitution, the Emancipation Proclamation and his legacy as commander in chief. These events are free and open to the public and will be held at the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C.

The highlight of the yearlong celebration of Lincoln’s birthday will be a special display of the original Emancipation Proclamation signed by President Lincoln, over the Presidents’ Day holiday, from Thursday, February 12 through Monday, February 16, 2009, in the National Archives East Rotunda Gallery.

“With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition” opens at the Library of Congress on February 12, 2009,the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s. The exhibition will draw on the vast and varied collections of Lincoln material in the Library and will include letters, photographs, political cartoons, period engravings, speeches, and artifacts.

After the exhibit closes in Washington on May 9, 2009, it will travel to The California Museum in Sacramento, Calif. (spring/summer 2009); the Newberry Library in Chicago (fall 2009); the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis (winter/spring 2010); the Atlanta History Center in Atlanta (fall 2010); and the Durham Western Heritage Museum in Omaha, Neb. (winter 2011).

An all-day Lincoln symposium March 4, 2009 (the 148th anniversary of Lincoln’s first inauguration), at the Library of Congress will feature six award-winning scholars: William Lee Miller, James M. McPherson, Douglas L. Wilson, Lucas Morel, Harold Holzer, and Elizabeth D. Leonard.

The Library of Congress also will hold teacher institutes Feb. 27 and 28, March 3–5, March 27 and 28, and April 6–8 to equip educators from across the country to teach about Abraham Lincoln through the use of primary and Web-based materials.

“Lincoln at the Smithsonian” will include exhibits and events at many of its museums and galleries. When it reopens Nov. 21, 2008, the National Museum of American History will display the rarely exhibited White House copy, also known as the Bliss version, of the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln’s most famous speech. The exhibition commemorates the 145th anniversary of this short address, one of the most famous and eloquent speeches in American history, which was given at Gettysburg, Pa., Nov. 19, 1863. The Bliss version is one of five drafts of the speech, and the last to have been written in Lincoln’s hand.

“Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life” will showcase more than 60 historical treasures associated with Lincoln’s life, from an iron wedge he used to split wood in the early 1830s in New Salem, Ill., to his iconic top hat he wore the night he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. The exhibition will be on view from Jan. 16, 2009, through January 2011.