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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Conditions Governing Access
  • Preferred Citation
  • Immediate Source of Acquisition
  • Custodial History
  • Biographical / Historical
  • Scope and Contents
  • Processing Information
  • Related Materials at the Huntington Library
  • Existence and Location of Copies
  • Arrangement
  • Publication Note

  • Contributing Institution: The Huntington Library
    Title: Abraham Lincoln collection
    Creator: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
    Identifier/Call Number: mssLincoln
    Physical Description: 18.3 Linear Feet (16 boxes, 8 volumes)
    Date (inclusive): 1813-1911
    Date (bulk): 1840-1865
    Abstract: Collection contains material created by and related to Abraham Lincoln, including correspondence, documents, and legal records pertaining to his presidency, the Civil War, and his law practice. Also present are items concerning Lincoln's assassination and the conspirators, his funeral, and legacy.
    Language of Material: Materials are in English.

    Conditions Governing Access

    RESTRICTED. Available with curatorial approval. Requires extended retrieval and delivery time.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item]. Abraham Lincoln collection, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

    Immediate Source of Acquisition

    Material in this collection was primarily acquired by Henry E. Huntington between 1914 and 1924.
    Numerous items were purchased at auction, especially from the Anderson Galleries sales of the William Harrison Lambert Lincolniana collection (January and April 1914) and the Lambert Civil War collection (March 1914). Other Anderson Galleries purchases include items from the collection sales of Mark P. Robinson (February-March 1918), George S. Hellman (November 1919), Edwin W. Coggeshall (April 1916), John L. Clawson (January 1917), George P. Marsh (March 1919), C.F. Gunther (November 1919); and from the joint sales of Hale-Hunter (January 1917) and Huntington-Bixby (March 1916 and March 1917).
    Many items in this collection were acquired through the purchase of the Judd Stewart collection in 1922 as well as separate purchases from the American Art Association's Judd Stewart collection sale, December 1921. In addition, some Lincoln material was purchased from dealer William K. Bixby in 1918. Several items were obtained when the Gideon Welles papers were bought for the Huntington by dealer A.S. Rosenbach at a Stan V. Henkels auction in January 1924. In addition, the Lincoln collection contains a few items purchased from or donated by individuals.
    This summary is based on information from Huntington Library legacy information files; the Henry Edwards Huntington papers (mssHEH); manuscript catalog cards; legacy manuscript housing folders; "Huntington Library Collections," The Huntington Library Bulletin (May 1931), and Donald C. Dickinson, Henry E. Huntington's Library of Libraries (San Marino, Ca.: Huntington Library Press, 1995). Source of acquisition is noted in item descriptions, when known.

    Custodial History

    Many items in this collection were transferred from other Huntington Library manuscript collections, especially the Ward Hill Lamon papers (mssLN), or were removed from rare books; see item Custodial History notes for details. Custodial History notes also include information on an item's provenance prior to the Huntington Library's acquisition, when known.

    Biographical / Historical

    Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865), the sixteenth president of the United States, was born in Hardin County, Kentucky, the son of farmers, and was raised primarily in Indiana. The family moved to Illinois in 1830. In 1832, Lincoln served in the Illinois state militia during the Black Hawk War. He was elected to the state legislature in 1834, where he represented the Whig party until 1841. Lincoln studied law and received his license in 1836. In 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois and began a law practice with John Todd Stuart; he later formed new legal partnerships with Stephen T. Logan in 1841 and with William H. Herndon in 1844. Lincoln married Mary Todd (1818-1882) in 1842; the couple had four children. In 1846, Lincoln was elected to Congress, serving one term in the U.S. House of Representatives until 1849. He continued to practice law through the 1850s while also returning to the political realm following the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska act in 1854, which effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and allowed residents of the territories to determine the status of slavery, and which Lincoln opposed. In 1854, he was again elected to the Illinois state legislature, and he helped to form the Republican Party in 1856. Lincoln unsuccessfully ran for the U.S. Senate in 1858 but rose to national prominence with a series of well-publicized political debates with his opponent, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln was elected president in 1860 as a Republican. In April 1861, the Confederate States of America seceded from the U.S. and began the Civil War. Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, granting freedom to enslaved persons within the Confederacy. He was reelected president in 1864 with Andrew Johnson as vice-president. The Civil War ended April 9, 1865, following General Robert E. Lee's surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant. On April 14, Lincoln was shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C.; he died the following morning at age 56.

    Scope and Contents

    This collection contains correspondence and documents of Abraham Lincoln dating from 1813 to 1865, especially relating to his presidency and the election of 1864, and to the Civil War, including appointments, military commissions, instructions and orders to generals, pardons, and passes. Several items pertain to slavery, including letters and notes, documents regarding gradual emancipation in Delaware, and signed copies of the 13th Amendment. There is a small amount of material for the Lincoln and Todd families. Also present are legal documents, 1838 to 1860, primarily relating to various cases handled by Lincoln during his law partnerships, especially with William H. Herndon. In addition, the collection includes items dating from 1865 to 1911 that concern Lincoln's assassination and the conspirators, his funeral, and his legacy.

    Processing Information

    This collection was reprocessed in 2022 by Melissa Haley as part of the American Presidential Papers Project. The items had been physically assembled and arranged by former Huntington Library staff; material was rehoused during reprocessing. Previously assigned item-level call numbers have been retained.
    The number of pages for each item is noted in parentheses in item-level Scope and Contents notes; page totals include enclosures when present. Document measurements are included at the item level for oversize items.
    Previously assigned legacy terminology regarding autograph, endorsement, and franking status of items was retained. Items marked autograph indicate the item is in the handwriting of the author of the letter or document. Endorsement usually refers to a signature of the addressee or individual authorized to read and respond to a letter and indicates that they have done so. Franking indicates the presence of an authorized signature for mailing purposes.

    Related Materials at the Huntington Library

    1. Photographs of Abraham Lincoln , photCL 354.
    2. Album of Abraham Lincoln portraits, Lincoln Family, and events around his life , photCL 40.
    3. Photograph album of Abraham Lincoln and his circle, photCL 256.
    4. Portrait album of 19th century figures associated with Abraham Lincoln , photCL 2.
    5. Abraham Lincoln photograph album , photCL 30.
    6. Lincoln ephemera collection , ephLE.
    7. Mary Todd Lincoln letters to James Smith , mssHM 83480-83485.

    Existence and Location of Copies

    Selected items from this collection have been digitized. Digital reproductions are available in the Huntington Digital Library. 


    Organized in the following series:
    1. Correspondence and documents, 1813-1865
    2. Legal records, 1838-before 1860
    3. Material related to Lincoln, approximately 1830?-1911

    Publication Note

    Many items in this collection are published in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953) or in Daniel W. Stowell, ed., The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases (University of Virginia Press, 2008).

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Presidents -- United States -- Election -- 1864
    Slavery -- United States -- History -- 19th century
    United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Greeting cards
    Appointing -- United States -- 19th century
    Legal documents -- Illinois -- 19th century
    Legal documents -- United States -- 19th century
    Letters (correspondence) -- United States -- 19th century
    Military commissions -- United States -- 19th century
    Photographs -- United States -- 19th century
    Booth, John Wilkes, 1838-1865
    Cameron, Simon, 1799-1889
    Chase, Salmon P. (Salmon Portland), 1808-1873
    Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885
    Herndon, William Henry, 1818-1891
    Lamon, Ward Hill, 1828-1893
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Archives
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Assassination
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Correspondence
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Death and burial
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 -- Photographs
    Lincoln, Mary Todd, 1818-1882
    Stanton, Edwin M. (Edwin McMasters), 1814-1869
    Stephens, Alexander H. (Alexander Hamilton), 1812-1883
    Trumbull, Lyman, 1813-1896
    United States. Constitution. 13th Amendment
    United States. President (1861-1865 : Lincoln). Emancipation Proclamation
    Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878