Title Reviewed:
Abraham Lincoln Portrayed in the Collections of the Indiana Historical Society

Author Reviewed:
Harold Holzer



Indiana Magazine of History, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp 182-183

Article Type:
Book Review

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Abraham Lincoln Portrayed in the Collections of the Indiana Historical Society
Edited by Harold Holzer
(Indianapolis: Indiana Historical Society Press, 2006. Pp. ix, 253. Notes, illustrations. $49.95.)

A $2.9-million grant from the Lilly Endowment enabled the Indiana Historical Society to supplement its Abraham Lincoln holdings through three significant purchases in 2003: the Jack Smith Lincoln Graphics Collection, the Daniel R. Weinberg Lincoln Conspirators Collection 1865-1977, and the Alexander Gardner Lincoln Glass Plate Negative (taken on November 8, 1863, eleven days prior to the Gettysburg Address). The acquisition added more than 1,100 prints, engravings, photographs, political cartoons, manuscripts, printed materials, and statues to the society's holdings. Harold Holzer's sumptuously illustrated catalog describes these combined collections.

An acknowledged expert in Lincoln studies and nineteenth-century American print culture, Holzer, in his preface, engages the reader by establishing a personal relationship with collectors Jack Smith and Daniel Weinberg. The introduction succinctly explicates how the mass marketing of graphic images shaped the public perception of Lincoln. The reader will discover material related to all aspects of Lincoln's life, from his boyhood to his transcendence as an American icon. Motivated by profit, printmakers produced images to satisfy both Lincoln supporters and detractors until assassination focused attention on the glorification of the Great Emancipator and Protector of the Union. Woven into this narrative are examples from the Smith Collection, punctuated with full- and half-page illustrations, and cross-referenced with catalog entry numbers to aid the researcher.

The catalog is divided into five sections: the Smith Collection, the Weinberg Collection, the Gardner Glass Plate Negative, Abraham Lincoln-Related Pictures, and Abraham Lincoln-Related Manuscripts. Each

  • INDIANA MAGAZINE OF HISTORY, 104 (June 2008) C 2008, Trustees of Indiana University.
section has a scope and content note that outlines the series within the collection - and in the case of the Weinberg Collection and the Gardner Glass Plate Negative there is a historical and/or biographical sketch as well. Entries in the first three sections are arranged alphabetically by title. The final section, Lincoln-Related Manuscripts, is a chronologically arranged finding aid with a brief introductory note.

There are inconsistencies in the catalog entries - similar materials are given slightly different titles than separate items that should be listed together. The illustrations for the Smith Collection are identified first by the collection/item number and secondly by title, but the entries are arranged alphabetically by title and the identification numbers within each series are not sequential. This creates a bit of confusion when matching the illustration with its entry. The small variances of presentation between sections mar the cohesiveness of the book, but do not hinder its use or hamper the conveyance of information.

Overall, Abraham Lincoln Portrayed in the Collections of the Indiana Historical Society is a beautifully produced book suitable for coffeetable display with its 150 color and grayscale images. As a research tool, it provides access to the society's Abraham Lincoln collections in the same spirit of collector Jack Smith, who "acquired not only to own, but also to share" (p. viii).

CINDA ANN MAY is coordinator of Library Digital Initiatives and project manager of the Wabash Valley Visions and Voices Digital Memory Project at Indiana State University, Terre Haute.

Published by theĀ Indiana University Department of History.