Miller Center

Abraham Lincoln Papers (1809 - 1865)

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Abraham Lincoln

A comprehensive collection of Abraham Lincoln papers is currently being produced by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency. The Lincoln project intends to publish the comprehensive collection electronically and produce an accompanying selective letterpress edition. For detailed information on the editing project visit The Papers of Abraham Lincoln website. The Lincoln project has broken Lincoln's papers into three distinct series:

  • Legal Papers: In 2000 the comprehensive electronic edition of the Legal Papers were completed with the publication of The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition (3 DVD-ROMs). A 4 volume selective letterpress edition of Legal Papers will be published in 2006. For detailed information on the Legal Papers series visit The Lincoln Legal Papers website.
  • Illinois Papers: The Illinois Papers series will include all non-legal Lincoln papers from his birth in 1809 to March 3, 1861 (the day before his inauguration as President).
  • Presidential Papers: The Presidential Papers series will include all Lincoln documents during his Presidency.

Until the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency completes its project, the best available published source for Lincoln papers is the Rutgers University Press edition published in 1953, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. The edition includes 9 volumes and covers the years 1824 - 1865. A significant limitation to the Rutgers edition is its failure to include incoming correspondence. In 2001 the papers from the Rutgers edition were made accessible online.

For material not yet published, the best source for Lincoln material is the Library of Congress microfilm collection. This collection is currently the best source for correspondence addressed to Lincoln. The microfilm collection is available at a number of different institutions throughout the United States, including Alderman Library at the University of Virginia through which the Scripps Library has access.

  • Papers of President Abraham Lincoln 1833-1916 (Library of Congress, 97 reels).

The Library of Congress has made a significant portion of their Lincoln manuscript collection available online through American Memory, its digital library.

For the official papers of Lincoln during his Presidency, see James Richardson's Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Presidents. This retrospective compilation was published in several different editions. The final edition was published in 1918 in 20 volumes. This edition covers the Presidencies of Washington through Taft and includes a significant portion of Wilson's Presidency. The contents of the Compilation are typically limited to official proclamations, addresses, and messages.

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