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'Lincoln' up for several Golden Globes, but award-worthy Lincoln collection lives at GVSU

  • From 'Lincoln'

Posted on December 17, 2012


Already a hit on the big screen, the adaptation of a popular Doris Kearns Goodwin book about Abraham Lincoln is leading the Golden Globe nominations with a total of seven.

But the story of Lincoln can’t be told fully in a movie, and thousands upon thousands of books have been written about the former president. Grand Valley State University is a clearinghouse for Lincoln fans, and has one of the most comprehensive archival collections of material on Abraham Lincoln in the state of Michigan. 

Originally donated to the university 20 years ago by former Meijer executive Harvey Lemmen, the university’s Lincoln collection contains more than 5,000 volumes and numerous pieces of memorabilia, lithographs, prints, paintings, reproductions, and rare original pieces from Lincoln’s life, presidency, and legacy.

“The university Lincoln collection is a treasure for fans and scholars of the former president,” said university archivist Robert Beasecker. “Mr. Lemmen had a passion for collecting books and other materials pertaining to Lincoln. We’re lucky to have them.”

The collection of Lincoln material is accessible to students, faculty and staff, and the general public, all accessible on Grand Valley’s Allendale Campus in the Seidman House university archives. While not available for check out, the material is available for use in the on-site reading room.

The collection includes an original first printing of the Gettysburg Address, dozens of original postcards and lithographs depicting the room Lincoln died in, an original printing of the 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, and an original ‘Wanted’ poster from shortly after Lincoln’s death seeking John Wilkes Booth for arrest. The main room of the university archives features a large painting called ‘Allegory on the Death of Lincoln” from 1865 by Belgian artist Constantin Meunier.

The collection also features a presidential writings collection that’s on loan to Grand Valley from university supporter Randy Bergers, which includes several books and autobiographies from Lincoln. 

An additional resource for Lincoln-hungry scholars is the Hauenstein Center for Presidential Studies, an academic center dedicated to leadership and the study of presidents and their politics. Director Gleaves Whitney is a presidential historian and scholar with a fondness for Lincoln, a president he called “one of democracy’s greatest leaders.”

Whitney has spoken extensively about Lincoln, and in 2009, was appointed to Michigan’s Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Committee, a two-year effort charged with helping the state celebrate the 16th president’s contributions to the nation.

Portions of the collection is available for viewing online through the university libraries site.

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