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Free to Use and Reuse: The Story of Abraham Lincoln

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President Abraham Lincoln (center) with Allan Pinkerton (left) and Maj. Gen. John A. McClernand at Antietam, Md., October 1862. Photograph by Alexander Gardner.

Last week, the Library announced a new online presentation of Abraham Lincoln’s papers from his time as a lawyer, congressman and the 16th president. The refreshed digital collection follows a multiyear project to update the Library’s previous presentation with additional features, full-color images and new material.

Lincoln’s second inaugural address.

To celebrate, we’re highlighting items from the Library’s vast Lincoln holdings on our home page this month. Browse through original documents and images including the earliest known draft of the Gettysburg Address, handwritten by Lincoln; photos of Lincoln on the battlefield; a preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation; and much more.

The items are from Lincoln’s papers as well as from the Prints and Photographs Division, the Library’s Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana, the Civil War Sheet Music Collection and elsewhere. They have no known copyright restrictions—meaning you can use them as you wish.

“The thousands of manuscripts, documents and images that tell the story of Abraham Lincoln’s life are an invaluable resource, and more people than ever can study these primary sources from the Library of Congress,” says Carla Hayden, Librarian of Congress. “More than 150 years after Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, his model of leadership and public service continues to inspire us as a nation.”

Life mask of Lincoln. Clark Mills, artist. February 1865.

Here are some of the items we’re showcasing on the home page:

Lincoln’s printed copy of his second inaugural address. Historians believe he read from this copy to deliver his inauguration speech on March 4, 1865. For the first time, this document is included with the collection online.

A photograph by Alexander Gardner of Lincoln delivering the second inaugural address on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol.

A picture of Lincoln with his son Tad taken in Gardner’s Washington, D.C., studio on February 5, 1865, the final photo session of Lincoln’s life.

A February 1865 life mask from the Library’s Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana.

Scroll down for more examples and write a note in the comments section of this post if you find an interesting way to use a digitized image!

Lincoln on the battlefield in Antietam, Md., October 1862. Photograph by Alexander Gardner.


Portrait of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner from the final photo session of Lincoln’s life, February 5, 1865.


An illustration of Lincoln’s funeral from Harper’s Weekly, May 13, 1865.


Broadside advertising $100,000 reward for the capture of Lincoln assassination conspirators.

Comments (2)

  1. #16 is #1. Greatest President in our short history

  2. Team of Rivals might be the best book ever written on Lincoln

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