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April 26, 2002

First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan Announces Donations of Numerous Abraham Lincoln Materials

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today announced that numerous items of Abraham Lincoln-related material have been donated to the Illinois State Historical Library, all stemming from publicity about the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

“All of these items were donated after the owners learned about the Presidential Library and Museum, which will be the new home of Illinois State Historical Library,” said Mrs. Ryan. “The owners felt this new facility would be an ideal home for these precious artifacts and documents.”

The items include:

  • Numerous original documents written by Abraham Lincoln’s family and associates, many of which give valuable insights into Lincoln’s political career and the struggle to construct a monument after his death. The collection belonged to the descendants of Ozias Mather Hatch, a close Lincoln ally and the first Republican Illinois Secretary of State.

  • An original deed written in 1845 by Abraham Lincoln for a piece of property in Springfield. This item was donated by 93-year-old Glenn W. Allen of Delavan, Illinois and his 96-year-old sister Dorothy C. Allen of Peoria, great-grandchildren of the man who bought the property in 1845.

  • A collection of artifacts, photographs and recollections from Grace Bedell Billings, who as an 11-year-old girl urged Abraham Lincoln to grow a beard. The donor, a descendant of Grace Bedell, wishes to remain anonymous.

  • A collection of 83 original legal documents, most pertaining to Stephen A. Douglas and one written by Abraham Lincoln. The documents were donated by Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Hemp.

  • A collection of 33 law books from the Lincoln-Herndon Law Offices, most used by Lincoln and his partner, William H. Herndon. The books were donated by Carolyn Oxtoby, who rehabilitates 19th-century buildings in downtown Springfield.

The $115 million Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is currently under construction in downtown Springfield. The library portion of the complex will open in November 2002, while the museum portion is scheduled to open in 2004. The facility will commemorate Lincoln’s life and times, and showcase the State of Illinois’ 46,000-item Lincoln collection. It is being built with a combination of state, federal, City of Springfield, and private funds and will be operated by the State of Illinois. The bulk of the state funding and commitment to the project have come from the personal involvement of Governor George H. Ryan and First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan.

The Illinois State Historical Library, administered by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency, is the state’s chief historical and genealogical research facility. Its holdings include 175,531 books, 391,207 audio-visual materials, 86,572 reels of microfilm, and 10.4 million manuscript items contained in 6,200 collections. The library’s 46,000-item Henry Horner Lincoln Collection features more than 1,500 manuscripts written or signed by the 16th President. The library is located beneath the Old State Capitol State Historic Site in downtown Springfield, but will move to the nearby Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum when the library portion of the new complex is complete later this year.


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