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Abraham Lincoln Collection

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BCA 0203 HC 28

Scope and Contents

The contents of the Abraham Lincoln Historical Collection vary widely.  The collection contains a mixture of items related to the study of Abraham Lincoln’s life (including his youth, politics, the Civil War, and speeches) as well as pamphlets commemorating his life, information on memorials and tributes, an ephemera and artificial “Life in Pictures” section, materials elucidating the industry built around the collecting of Lincoln memorabilia, plus actual memorabilia and miscellaneous artifacts, including medallions and coins, pins, tiny log cabin sculpturettes, and other curiosities, such as a “Lincoln bow tie” allegedly worn the night Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre, accompanied by both “authentication,” and in turn, “disproving” documentation.


  • created: 1857-1989


Conditions Governing Access

Records can be accessed through the Reading Room, Berea College Special Collections and Archives, Hutchins Library, Berea College.

Conditions Governing Use

There are no restrictions on use by researchers other than federal copyright restrictions.


27.00 boxes_(general)

Language of Materials



Since its reopening following the Civil War, Berea College has been closely associated with the enduring legacy of President Abraham Lincoln.  As written in 1991 by Gerald F. Roberts, former Director of Special Collections & Archives: Founded as an anti-slavery institution in the late 1850s, Berea… led the way in interracial education… [and] by the turn of the century fostered a growing association with Lincoln’s name.  In those years, Lincoln was claimed as a great example for Berea students, most of whom were from poor families scattered throughout the mountain region of the South.  Lincoln’s name, for example, was used extensively as a part of Berea’s promotional literature.  The people served by Berea were extolled as “Lincoln’s kin,” and the Berea letterhead once read “In Lincoln’s State – For Lincoln’s People.” [Gerald F. Roberts. “The Lincoln Collection of Berea College,” Lincoln Herald 93, no. 1 (Spring 1991): 3-4.] Although John G. Fee had sent correspondence to Lincoln during the war, Berea College’s first tangible connection to Abraham Lincoln began in 1883, when Roswell C. Smith (of the Century Company and Century Magazine) began donating funds for the construction of a new brick building on Berea’s campus, which he desired to be named in honor of Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln Hall was dedicated on 13 May 1887. [Robert Piper Boyce, Building a College: An Architectural History of Berea College, Berea College, 2006; 107.] “The Boy Lincoln,” a pastel by American artist Eastman Johnson, was purchased for Berea College in 1908 through a gift of Mary Billings French directly from Mrs. Johnson following her husband’s death.  Johnson made the pastel in 1867 and it hung in the dining room of his home until its purchase. (Special Collections, Provenance Files)  Today, the painting hangs in the Special Collections Reading Room at Hutchins Library. The backbone of today’s Abraham Lincoln Collection came to Berea College in 1935, with the gift of Lincoln scholar John A. Shedd’s valued collection of autographed books, collectable images, and memorabilia. Under an agreement with Mrs. Shedd (Annie K. Shedd), the materials were housed and maintained separately from the rest of the library’s collections and retained the designation “Shedd Memorial” Lincoln Collection. During the 1935-1936 construction of the Reading Room addition to Berea’s then Carnegie Library (now the Frost Building), Mrs. Shedd kept in close contact with the College in regards to the construction of the special fireproof Lincoln Room.  The Lincoln Room made space allowances for the continued collecting of Lincoln related books and materials.    By 1939, Lincoln books from the personal library of Mr. Alfred C. Howell had been added to the collection, then totaling over 700 volumes.  The “Boy Lincoln” painting, a portrait of John A. Shedd, and all Lincoln books were housed in this Lincoln Room until moving to Hutchins Library in 1967, and all have been housed in the current Special Collections & Archives since 1991. In 2000, the Lincoln Collection of Henry Schwarzschild, a well-known civil-rights attorney, was added to the holdings. Schwarzschild’s important collection of printed works, government publications, and other contemporary pieces came to the College through the generosity of Berea alumna, Katherine Jett Schwarzschild, ’46.  The book and memorabilia collection continues to grow through purchases of recently published material and other donations (for example, a small collection of items identified in the Chester A. Young Papers were added to HC 28 in 2008).

Other Descriptive Information

Collection Number: BCA 0203 HC 28

Processing Information

Given by a number of contributors over many years, the Abraham Lincoln Historical Collection is a supplementary extension of the Shedd-Schwarzschild Abraham Lincoln Book Collection.  This Historical Collection first opened for use in the summer of 1993, through the efforts of student processor Geoffrey Bartlett.  In 2008, student archival associate Evan Robinson assisted College Archivist Jaime M. Bradley in the re-housing of artifacts in the collection.  The efforts of student archival associate Samantha Lambert between 2009-2012 lead to the inventory of all pamphlets and clippings as well as the addition of 5 cubic feet of unprocessed Lincoln material.

Archon Finding Aid Title
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Berea College Special Collections and Archives Repository

Hutchins Library
100 Campus Drive
Berea Kentucky 40404 US