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Collection of Lincoln documents, letters second largest west of Mississippi

February 24, 2012
Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald

More than 80 documents and letters written to or signed by President Abraham Lincoln are now available for public viewing on the Iowa Heritage Digital Collection (IHDC) website ( IHDC is an online storehouse of Iowa history and culture, maintained by Iowa Library Services (ILS)/State Library, which brings together digital resources of Iowa libraries, museums, historical societies and other cultural institutions to enhance access to and preserve long-term accessibility of these valuable materials.

In 2008, the State Historical Society of Iowa participated in a collaborative project of the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Springfield, Ill) to identify, digitally capture, and publish all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his lifetime. Nearly 100 documents from the Society's manuscripts and state government archives collections were identified and digitized on-site by the Lincoln Presidential Library as part of the project.

Daniel Stowell, director and editor for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln project, provided the following statistical information about the collection of documents at the State Historical Society of Iowa (Des Moines) and on IHDC:

a. It is among the 20 largest collections the staff of the Lincoln project has worked with out of more than 300 participating manuscripts sources.

b. With the exception of the holdings of the Huntington Library in California, it is the largest collection west of the Mississippi.

c. The 1843 letter from Lincoln to Martin S. Morris is among the oldest 300 letters that have survived in the president's own hand.

"The most valuable and significant piece in the collection is Abraham Lincoln's acceptance speech to the Congressional committee that officially notified him on March 1, 1865, of his re-election," Stowell said. "This brief speech of only 119 words is filled with classic Lincoln expressions of confidence and humility. Together, the Lincoln documents housed at the State Historical Society of Iowa present an interesting portrait of the nation's 16th president. "

"Now these documents, including Lincoln's acceptance speech, can be viewed online by anyone with access to the Internet - either at home or at their local library," said Barb Corson who oversees IHDC.

The goals of the IHDC are to:

* Maintain an open, publicly accessible, virtual collection relating to Iowa history and culture.

* To identify ongoing and planned digitization projects relating to Iowa's cultural heritage.

* To provide the technical infrastructure for the sustainability of electronic collections.

* To provide training and other resources necessary to enable organizations to participate in the initiative.

* To encourage preservation of original materials selected for electronic distribution.



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