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June 12, 2001

First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan Accepts Check from "Pennies For Lincoln" Campaign from Illinois School Children

SPRINGFIELD -- Illinois First Lady Lura Lynn Ryan today accepted a check for $47,026.30 representing the funds collected during the "Pennies For Lincoln" campaign. More than 100 school children from the Springfield area dressed in Lincoln replica clothing made the check presentation from the campaign, which was developed to create grassroots support for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and to teach children about President Lincoln.

"I am really pleased with the way Illinois children responded to 'Pennies for Lincoln,'" said Mrs. Ryan. "The money raised by the 'Pennies' campaign will help create a place where children can go to have fun and learn about the Lincoln family - in Mrs. Lincoln's Attic."

"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.

Through a partnership with the Illinois Bankers Association and local banks in every part of the state, school children donated pennies in special receptacles that were distributed to every school and bank in Illinois.

"When Mrs. Ryan came to the Illinois Bankers Association with the ideas for "Pennies for Lincoln" late last year, we jumped at the chance to be a partner for such a worthy cause," said Debbie Jemison of the Illinois Bankers Association. "Never did we dream that the program would be so successful in raising both awareness of and donations for the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.

"I know of one school that raised $11 and one that raised $2,000-each will be a lasting part of history by contributing to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library."

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.

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 $5.5 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; $1 million from the State Farm Companies Foundation and $1 million from Deere and Company.

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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