November 19, 2013

Gettysburg Address: 150th Birthday



and other


Today, the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, is also the 70th anniversary of a period of time that school children in Illinois pooled their pennies to purchase the Everett copy of that speech.

This copy is the only one of five existing copies that includes the phrase “under God.”*

The school children sacrificed their movie money and candy money for the cause, to raise the majority of the $60,000 needed to purchase one of the five known copies of the 272 word speech written in Lincoln’s hand.

“It meant something to us, being part of something like that,” said Gene Rubley, one of the students involved. “We were acquiring a piece of history.”*


I can attest to the fact that dealing with original documents has the effect of “acquiring a piece of history.” I’ve had the opportunity to handling such documents at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) library in Worcester, Massachusetts; the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and the Lemoyne House in Washington, Pennsylvania. For the AAS and the Pennsylvania Historical Society you had to demonstrate a legitimate research project and participate in an orientation before being allowed to enter the hallowed halls to handle documents in the 1990-1824 time era of my under-construction historical romance novel.

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

Pennsylvania Historical Society, Philadelphia

I’ve handled documents on handwritten parchment, on paper so thin as to make them unreadable because the black ink produces a double exposure effect. Some of the documents have beautifully handcrafted script, while others may be totally undecipherable.

Old original deeds in the Ellsworth Maine courthouse have similar characteristics.

Perhaps the most impressive of documents I’ve examined was found in (more…)

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