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April 24, 2001

First Lady Accepts "Penny's For Lincoln" Donation for Mrs. Lincoln's Attic

TAYLORVILLE -- First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today joined students at North Elementary School to read a children's book about Abraham Lincoln in celebration of the "Pennies for Lincoln" campaign.

"The 'Pennies for Lincoln Campaign' has allowed students from all around the state to make a contribution to the children's section of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, Mrs. Lincoln's Attic," said Mrs. Ryan. "The students here at North Elementary School have done an incredible job, and they should be very proud of their efforts!"

Representatives of the student council also presented Mrs. Ryan with 21,739 pennies weighing 133 pounds.

Through a partnership with the Illinois Bankers Association and local banks in every part of the state, school children are donating pennies in special receptacles that have been distributed to every school and bank in Illinois. Later this spring, all of the receptacles will be collected and the donations tallied.

The pennies will go towards the funding of "Mrs. Lincoln's Attic," a place where children can have fun and learn about the Lincoln family. "Mrs. Lincoln's Attic" will feature historic clothing for dress-up games, oversized Lincoln Logs and other toys, and a dollhouse modeled after Lincoln's home in Springfield. The "attic" will also feature activities and displays about the way children lived, played and learned in the 1800's.

At North Elementary School students listened to Mrs. Ryan as she read, "A. Lincoln and Me" by Louis W. Borden. Mrs. Ryan took part in the "Reading Recess" program, designed to promote reading and encourage the students to use the library.

Mrs. Ryan also reminded the students that almost 60 years ago, Illinois children donated their pennies to help purchase a rare copy of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address written by the president. Only five known copies of this speech in the president's own hand are known to exist.

That copy of the Gettysburg Address was offered for sale to the state for $60,000 (which would be approximately $500,000 today). In the middle of World War II, state government did not have enough money to buy the document. The children of Illinois came to the rescue, donating their pennies and raising $45,000. The remainder was contributed by Chicago department store owner Marshall Field, who said he donated his money because he was so touched by all of the pennies collected by Illinois children.

"I'll bet some of your grandfathers and grandmothers donated some of their pennies to buy that copy of the Gettysburg Address!" Mrs. Ryan told the children.

The library building is scheduled for completion in 2002 and will house the state's world-renowned Lincoln Collection and serve as the new home for the Illinois State Historical Library. The museum is scheduled to be finished in 2003 and will contain state-of-the-art exhibits on Lincoln and his times, audio-visual programs, a restaurant and gift shop.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum is being funded through a variety of public and private sources. The State of Illinois has appropriated $50 million for the facility, with the City of Springfield contributing $10 million plus the site. The federal government has provided $2.7 million to help plan the library and museum, and in its most recent session Congress committed $10 million in matching funds. Congress has authorized a $50 million cap on matching funds for the project.

In addition, private fundraising efforts are underway, with more than $4.55 million in major corporate donations to date. Among the donations are $2 million from the Ameritech Foundation to support The Ameritech Holavision® Theater; $1 million from the Motorola Foundation; and $1 million from the State Farm Companies Foundation.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation, chaired by the First Lady, is actively seeking $35 million in private funds to help complete construction and fund an endowment for ongoing public programming.


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