The digital collections of the Library of Congress contain a wide variety of primary source materials associated with Abraham Lincoln, including manuscripts, government documents, printed ephemera, and newspaper articles. Provided below is a link to the home page for each relevant digital collection along with selected highlights.
The complete Abraham Lincoln Papers from the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress consist of approximately 20,000 documents. The collection is organized into three "General Correspondence" series that include incoming and outgoing correspondence and enclosures, drafts of speeches, and notes and printed material. Most of the 20,000 items are from the 1850s through Lincoln's presidential years, 1860-65. This collection contains articles on the Emancipation Proclamation and the Lincoln assassination. It also includes a list of Frequently Requested Documents in the Abraham Lincoln Papers.
Alfred Whital Stern (1881-1960) of Chicago presented his outstanding collection of Lincolniana to the Library of Congress in 1953. Begun by Mr. Stern in the 1920s, the collection documents the life of Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) both through writings by and about Lincoln as well as a large body of publications concerning the issues of the times including slavery, the Civil War, Reconstruction, and related topics. The collection contains more than 11,100 items. This online release presents more than 1,300 items with more than 4,000 images and a date range of 1824-1931. It includes the complete collection of Stern's contemporary newspapers, Lincoln's law papers, sheet music, broadsides, prints, cartoons, maps, drawings, letters, campaign tickets, and other ephemeral items.
This collection contains a large selection of congressional material related to Abraham Lincoln's political career as a member of the House of Representatives and as U.S. president. Search this collection by date and publication to find materials related to Lincoln.
This collection presents three manuscript volumes that document daily life in Washington, D. C., through the eyes of Horatio Nelson Taft (1806-1888), an examiner for the U. S. Patent Office. The diary details events in Washington during the Civil War years including Taft's connection with Abraham Lincoln and his family. Of special interest is Taft's description of Lincoln's assassination, based on the accounts of his friends and his son, who was one of the attending physicians at Ford's Theatre the night Lincoln was shot. Search this collection to find additional references to Lincoln and his family.
The Herndon-Weik Collection of Lincolniana consists of 4,600 items (9,729 images), most of which were digitized from 15 reels of previously produced microfilm. Spanning the years circa 1824-1933, the collection contains papers representing Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), William Henry Herndon (1818-1891), and Jesse William Weik (1857-1930), records of The Weik Manuscript Corporation, and miscellaneous material collected chiefly by Herndon and Weik for use in writing Herndon's Lincoln: The True Story of a Great Life (1889).
The papers of presidential secretary and biographer John G. Nicolay (1832-1901) consist of 5,500 items (14,555 images) scanned from original materials. Spanning the years 1811 to 1943, with the bulk concentrated in the period 1860-1901, the collection particularly reflects Nicolay’s tenure as private secretary to Abraham Lincoln and documents his numerous literary activities.
Lincoln’s effort to restore the Union and his contributions to American political thought and its ideals of freedom often obscure the fact that he had been a successful attorney. Lincoln himself admitted his ambition lay in politics and not in the law, stating “my forte is as a Statesman, rather than a Prosecutor.” Even if the law was Lincoln’s “secondary” avocation, it was indelibly linked to him in life and death. The Law Library of Congress's historical collection vividly illustrates three periods in which the law played a prominent part of the Lincoln era. First, Lincoln the lawyer is comprised of works specifically on his work as a prominent Illinois lawyer. Second, Habeas Corpus and the War Powers of the President covers contemporary literature on Lincoln’s controversial balancing of civil liberties against the demands of war aims. Finally, The Assassination: Trials contains period transcripts and reports of the trial of the surviving conspirators in the murder of the President and attempted murder of other public officials.
The Printed Ephemera collection comprises 28,000 primary-source items dating from the seventeenth century to the present and encompasses key events and eras in American history. While the broadside format represents the bulk of the collection, there are a significant number of leaflets and some pamphlets.
The papers of Ohio governor, Abraham Lincoln cabinet official, and Supreme Court justice Salmon P. Chase (1808-1873) span the years 1755-1898, with the bulk of the material originating between 1824 and 1872. Chase served as Secretary of the Treasury from 1861-64 and was nominated by Lincoln in 1864 to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The papers of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), army officer and eighteenth president of the United States, contain approximately 50,000 items dating from 1819-1974, with the bulk falling in the period 1843-1885.