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Houghton Library Celebrates Lincoln Bicentennial with Exhibition and Symposium

Abraham Lincoln

A portrait of Abraham Lincoln, artist unknown, from the late 19th or early 20th century. The portrait, which was given to Harvard University in 1924 as a bequest from William Whiting Nolen, Class of 1884, is included in the Houghton Library exhibition celebrating the Lincoln bicentennial.

January 21, 2009 - Houghton Library will this month celebrate the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth with a new exhibition and two-day symposium which will include Lincoln scholars from across the country.

The exhibition, "Harvard's Lincoln," opened on January 20, and also serves as a way to introduce students, faculty and staff to the library's important Lincoln collection, which many people may be unfamiliar with, said exhibition curator Tom Horrocks, Associate Librarian for Collections at Houghton.

"This is a way for us to inform people of the collection we have," Horrocks said. "This symposium and exhibition is a great opportunity to bring scholars here not only to talk about Lincoln at 200, but also to raise awareness of this collection."

The exhibition also serves as prelude to the April 24 and 25 symposium, "Abraham Lincoln at 200: New Perspectives on his Life and Legacy," which will include dozens of historians and Lincoln scholars, including Harvard University President Drew Gilpin Faust, Jean H. Baker, Gabor Boritt, Brian Dirck, David Herbert Donald, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Richard W. Fox, Harold Holzer, John Marszalek, James McPherson, Edna Greene Medford, Matthew Pinsker, Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Barry Schwartz, John Stauffer, Craig Symonds, Thomas Turner, Michael Vorenberg, and Frank J. Williams, who will study a number of aspects of Lincoln's career, such as his views on race and slavery, his role as Commander-in-Chief, his use of the press to shape public opinion, his relationship with Congress and his influence on the legislative process, and his role as a politician and as a party leader.

Exhibition visitors, meanwhile, will be able to survey a broad array of items, from letters, books and manuscripts to sculpture and physical objects believed to be associated with Lincoln, including an axe he purportedly sold while working as a store clerk, and a ticket stub from Ford's Theatre on the night of his assassination.