Hutchins Library
Special Collections & Archives
Guide to the Abraham Lincoln Collection (Historical Collection)

(For information on the Shedd/Schwarzschild Abraham Lincoln Book Collection, please click here).

Accession Number: HC 28
Abraham Lincoln Collection
17 linear feet
26 Boxes (17 manuscript boxes, 9 oversize boxes)

Online Catalog Record (BANC)

Series Description
Series I - Life of Lincoln
Series II - Memorials and Tributes
Series III - Pamphlets and Speeches
Series IV - Lincoln Industry
Series V - Memorabilia and Artifacts
Series VI - Newspapers and Newspaper Clippings

Access and Use

Provenance: This is an artificial collection created from multiple donations given by a number of contributors, including the main gift of Mrs. John A. Shedd in 1935. It exists as a companion to and an extension of the Shedd/Schwarzschild Abraham Lincoln Book Collection. The collection opened for research in the summer of 1993.

Access: There are no restrictions on the collection other than federal copyright regulations.

Preferred Citation: The Abraham Lincoln Collection, Historical Collections, Berea College Special Collections & Archives, Berea, Ky.


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.


Since its reopening following the Civil War, Berea 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.]
Image of an industrious Lincoln, reading by candle light.
Taken from The Berea Quarterly, January 1913.
(Image links to full January 1913 issue in Berea Digital; see Page 2-3 for image)

Although John G. Fee 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 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 Division 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 collections continue 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 recently added to HC 28).

Series Description
(Box lists available by clicking series links below)

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Series I Life of Lincoln Boxes 1-3

General information concerning the life of Abraham Lincoln, including early life, family, politics, and speeches.

Series II Memorials and Tributes Boxes 4-6

Miscellaneous information concerning memorials and tributes established in honor of Abraham Lincoln at various institutions, including associations, universities, and speeches.

Series III Pamphlets and Speeches Boxes 7-12

Pamphlets and speeches written in commemoration of Abraham Lincoln.

Series IV Lincoln Industry Boxes 13-15

Items related to the "industry" surrounding the collection of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia.

Series V Memorabilia and Artifacts Box 16-23

This series contains images, pictures, documents, artifacts, and souvenirs related to Abraham Lincoln and his legacy.

Series VI Newspapers and Clippings Box 24-26

This series includes two oversize boxes of single newspapers and clippings with dates ranging from 1860-1968, as well as one manuscript box of newspaper clippings, 1909-1969.

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