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Tag Archives: Lincoln Memorial University
My phone rang during a day off from work this summer. Something turned up during a road excavation on campus, just a few minutes’ walk from the museum, and they wanted me to take a look at it. Now it’s part of our collection. Here’s what happened:
Believe it or not, this isn’t our first rodeo with Civil War ordnance. Years ago, when I was still an undergrad at LMU, a water line project uncovered a whole cache of explosive shells right across from the museum’s parking lot. Some of them got drilled, disarmed, and added to our collection; an EOD team from Ft. Campbell detonated the rest in a vacant field at the rear of campus.
It’s not surprising that Civil War artifacts turn up at LMU from time to time. We’re just a stone’s throw from Cumberland Gap, a critical invasion route that changed hands four times. In fact, the contest for this strategic region is why we have a college named for Lincoln in East Tennessee—and one of the best private Lincoln/CivilWar collections anywhere. Right now we’re planning an exhibit on LMU’s origins and early history, where we’ll have the mortar round on permanent display.
Oh, and if you happen to run across any Civil War artillery rounds in the wild, let the experts handle it. This stuff is lethal.
Join scholars of American religion on Friday, November 16, 2018, at the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum in Harrogate, Tennessee, as they discuss faith in Lincoln’s America at this year’s Lincoln Symposium and Kincaid Lecture. Speakers include Dr. Thomas Kidd, Dr. Terrie Aamodt, and Dr. Luke Harlow.
The cost of the event to the public is $30.00 (covers lectures and luncheon). Students, faculty, and staff of Lincoln Memorial University may attend all sessions free of charge; lunch for LMU community members is $10.00 and requires registration.
Registration is required for all who wish to attend, whether a student, faculty, or community member. To register, please email email@example.com by November 13, 2018.
8:30am -9:00am: Registration, The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum
9:00am: Dr. Terrie Aamodt: “When Religion Goes to War: The Apocalyptic Imagination and the Civil War”
10:00am: 15 Minute Break
10:15am: Dr. Luke Harlow, “Religion and the Meaning of Civil War Emancipation”
11:15am: 15 Minute Break
11:30am: 2018 Kincaid Lecture, Dr. Thomas Kidd: “The Enigma of Benjamin Franklin’s Faith”
12:30pm: Luncheon, Cumberland Gap Convention Center
2:00pm: Roundtable Q&A with Speakers and Book Signing
Copies of each author’s book will be available for purchase and signing at the event.
Thomas Kidd is the Associate Director of the Institute for Studies of Religion, and the James Vardaman Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University. He is the author or editor of twelve books. Recent works include Benjamin Franklin: The Religious Life of a Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2017), American Colonial History: Clashing Cultures and Faiths (Yale University Press, 2016), Baptists in America: A History (with Barry Hankins, Oxford University Press, 2015), and George Whitefield: America’s Spiritual Founding Father (Yale University Press, 2014). He has written for outlets including the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal. Kidd blogs at “Evangelical History” at The Gospel Coalition website.
Terrie Dopp Aamodt is professor of History and English at Walla Walla University. Her own roots in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley informed her doctoral work in American and New England Studies at Boston University. Her revised dissertation, Righteous Armies, Holy Cause: Apocalyptic Imagery and the Civil War, was published by Mercer University Press in 2002. She has explored relationships between religion and visual culture in topics ranging from the American Shakers to the House of David barnstorming baseball teams, which pioneered racial integration in the sport during the 1920s and 30s. She has led several Civil War tours of the Virginia theater for college credit, including a bicycle tour. Current interests include the memorialization of the Civil War in the Northwest and investigation of photographs, magazine illustrations, and other images of Reconstruction and the Jim Crow era in an extension of her earlier work on the Civil War. She is exploring and comparing the trajectories of the Bloody Shirt and Lost Cause responses to the war.
Luke Harlow is Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He is a historian of religion, race, and politics in the era of the American Civil War, and his published work includes Religion, Race, and the Making of Confederate Kentucky, 1830–1880, which received a Kentucky History Award. He is currently writing Faith in the Institutions of the Republic: Lydia Maria Child in Civil War and Reconstruction, a book focused on one of the most famous abolitionists and writers of the nineteenth century. This project explores the relationship between northern antislavery reformers and politicians, and raises questions about the moral foundations of democratic republicanism in the age of emancipation.
I couldn’t be happier to announce that the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum‘s new permanent exhibit Log Walls to Marble Halls is now open in our renovated Kincaid Gallery. From now on, our visitors will get a more in-depth and engaging look at Lincoln’s life before the presidency than we’ve ever been able to offer before.
The emphasis is on Lincoln’s ascent from his frontier beginnings to the political and professional prominence he achieved by 1860, and how his ambition and lifelong habit of self-improvement reinforced his convictions about the American experiment, politics, and the escalating controversy over slavery.
Some of our most remarkable artifacts are back on display and looking better than ever, including a corner cupboard made by Abraham Lincoln’s father in Kentucky, a tea set used by the Lincoln family in their Springfield home (donated by Abraham Lincoln’s last direct descendant), a family portrait of Mary Todd Lincoln, and a flag and campaign banners from Lincoln’s Senate race against Stephen Douglas.
The exhibit also features other priceless pieces of our collection that haven’t been on public display in years, or are now on exhibit for the first time: scales from the Lincoln-Berry store in New Salem, rare campaign ribbons, sheet music, a first edition of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and more.
I think this is the most exciting thing that’s happened at the ALLM since the place opened back in 1977. It’s certainly the biggest thing we’ve done since I was an undergrad intern there many years ago, and something a lot of us have dreamed about for a long, long time. I hope you’ll come and check it out.
And we’re just getting started. If you’d like to help us finish transforming the way we tell the story of Lincoln and his era, consider a contribution to our capital campaign.
The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum won’t be re-opening until the end of this month. But here’s a look at what’s been going in the Kincaid Gallery, where our new permanent exhibit Log Walls to Marble Halls is under construction.
Just inside the entryway is a recreated section of the Kentucky cabin where Abraham Lincoln was a child. Pretty soon, it’ll be home to an original corner cupboard built by his father, Thomas.
When this case is assembled, visitors will peer inside and get a glimpse back in time at one of our WPA dioramas.
Graphics and labels waiting to go up:
A couple of the big artifacts are already in place. One of the first things visitors will see is our magnificent Gutzon Borglum bust…
…and one of the last is this 1858 flag, a relic from Lincoln’s campaign against Stephen Douglas.
The folks from Owen Design Group and 1220 Exhibits have done amazing work in making this dream a reality. We’re delighted to see this project nearing completion.
But we’re also eager to tell the rest of Lincoln’s story, and the story of the war over which he presided. Click here to learn how you can help make it happen.
The diorama is still one of the most effective gimmicks in the museum business. You can lose yourself in these little worlds behind glass. Maybe it’s the fact that they’re three-dimensional.
In 1939, the Work Projects Administration funded the creation of twenty dioramas depicting scenes from Abraham Lincoln’s life for the Chicago Historical Society. Painstaking research and craftsmanship went into each one. Some fifty artists spent two years putting them together.
Today we have five of these masterpieces on exhibit at the ALLM. Visitors (especially kids) are invariably drawn to them, like metal shavings to magnets.
Let’s take a look at one of the scenes. It’s May 19, 1860. We’re inside the parlor of Abraham Lincoln’s Springfield home. The Republican Party has just concluded its second national convention in Chicago. A delegation has arrived by train to inform Lincoln that he’s the party’s nominee for president.
George Ashmun of Massachusetts is handing Lincoln the official letter of nomination.
The décor is historically accurate to a middle-class Victorian home. In fact, the wallpaper matches the actual design used in the Lincolns’ parlor. Check out that exquisite little flower under glass in the corner…
…and the tiny books on the shelf.
The attention to detail is nothing short of astonishing. There’s a miniature picket fence affixed to the exterior of the back wall, just in case a viewer should decide to peer through the windows. It’s hardly visible from the front; most visitors probably don’t notice it. I had no idea it was there until the first time I saw the diorama from the back.
The Lincoln figure looks pretty solemn, but there was a bit of levity to the proceedings. The nominee asked William D. Kelley of Pennsylvania—I think he’s the fellow standing between Ashmun and Lincoln—how tall he was. Kelley was 6’3″.
“I beat you,” Lincoln said, “I am six feet four without my high-heeled boots.”
Kelley had a sense of humor. “Pennsylvania bows to Illinois,” he replied. “I am glad that we have found a candidate for the Presidency whom we can look up to.”
I’ve been lucky to be a part of the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on and off and in one capacity or another since my undergrad days—as a student intern, a curatorial assistant, and now as the museum’s director. Back when I was an intern, our curator Steven Wilson used to say, “A museum is a communication device.” The ALLM has been in the communication business for a long time. For more than forty years, we’ve been telling the story of Abraham Lincoln and his era.
Now we’re transforming the way we tell that story. We’ve got big plans. Let me tell you what’s in the works, and how you can help us bring it all to completion.
Thanks to a very generous gift from the estate of Hansel and Dorothy Kincaid, we’ve been working with a fantastic team of exhibit designers and fabricators to completely overhaul one of our permanent galleries. That effort will finally be finished next month. We’ll unveil our exhibition Log Walls to Marble Halls in the newly renamed and renovated Kincaid Gallery. This exhibit examines Lincoln’s rise to national prominence, from his humble ancestry to the eve of his nomination for the presidency.
We’ll have more of our remarkable collection on display than ever before, taking visitors on a journey through Lincoln’s pre-presidential years using state-of-the-art exhibitry.
A few days ago we saw some of the finished graphic panels, cases, and other elements for the first time. I can’t overstate how excited we are. This gallery is going to be beautiful, and we can’t wait to show it off.
But Log Walls to Marble Halls is just the first chapter of the story we need to tell. We want to bring our other exhibits up to the same modern standard as the Kincaid Gallery. We’ve got to complete the saga of Lincoln’s life story with a permanent exhibit on his presidency, his management of the war, and his transformative vision for America. And we’ve got to tell the other stories in our collection—the story of the Civil War as ordinary soldiers and civilians experienced it, the story of how the world has commemorated Lincoln in art and entertainment—not to mention our own story, the story of how such a remarkable Lincoln/Civil War collection ended up at a college in the mountains of Appalachia.
Telling these stories will take a lot of space. That’s why we’re drawing up plans for a major expansion that will nearly double the size of our other permanent galleries. And we need to make other improvements to the facility to ensure that our collection remains as secure and accessible as possible for many years to come.
Fortunately, we’ve got an opportunity to make it happen. We have an astounding offer of $1 million from the Kincaid estate, provided we can raise an additional million to match it.
We’re already well on our way to meeting this goal, and we invite your participation. If you’d like to help us complete the transformation of the ALLM, you can donate to the Kincaid $1 Million Matching Challenge online or by sending a check to LMU. And if you have any questions about the campaign or you’d like more information about our plans for the museum, please feel free to contact us.
We appreciate your support. And we look forward to sharing the Lincoln story in with you in exciting new ways!