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Research and Publication

The Lincoln Studies Center is actively involved in a variety of Lincoln-related research and publication projects, all of which focus on making primary sources available for students, scholars, and the general public.

Lincoln Studies Center Publication Series

The Lincoln Studies Center Publication Series was established in partnership with the University of Illinois Press and is intended primarily for editorial projects involving Lincoln source material. While the initial volumes have been produced by the co-directors of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, comparable works by other Lincoln scholars are in preparation.

Published Volumes

Herndon's Lincoln, 2006
The first volume in the Lincoln Studies Center Publication Series is the classic biography of Abraham Lincoln written by his law partner, William H. Herndon, in collaboration with Jesse W. Weik. Originally published in 1889, arguably the most influential life of Lincoln ever written, its principal sources were drawn from the archive of letters and interviews collected by Herndon and published in their entirety for the first time in Herndon's Informants (see below). This new edition restores the original text, includes two chapters added in the revised (1892) edition, and traces the story of how this landmark biography got written. Extensive annotation affords the reader a detailed look at the biography's sources.

The Lincoln-Douglas Debates: The Lincoln Studies Center Edition, 2008
To commemorate in 2008 the 150th anniversary of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, one of which took place on the Knox College campus, the Lincoln Studies Center prepared a new edition of the debates, which is the second publication in the Lincoln Studies Center Publication Series. In spite of the importance of these debates in American history, this is the first critical edition of the famous 1858 debates between Abraham Lincoln and Stephen A. Douglas. This edition is the first to provide a text based on a critical comparison of all known records. It provides numerous aids to help the modern reader understand the debates, including extensive introductory material, annotations, commentary, and a glossary - bringing readers as close as possible to the original words of these two remarkable men.

Volumes in Progress

The Diary of Gideon Welles
Gideon Welles was Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, and his personal diary is a prime source of information about the inner workings of the Lincoln administration. Professor William E. Gienapp's new edition of this invaluable diary was well along at the time of his untimely death in 2003 and is being completed by his widow, Erica Gienapp.

The Diary of Horatio Nelson Taft
At the time of the Civil War, Horatio Nelson Taft was a Patent Office official in Washington whose children were playmates of Lincoln's two younger sons. Unknown until it was recently acquired by the Library of Congress, Taft's diary is revealing both of the Tafts' famous neighbors and life in Washington during the war. Dr. John R. Sellers, curator of the Lincoln and Civil War materials at the Library of Congress and a member of the Lincoln Studies Center's Board of Advisors, is editing this important discovery. Dr. Sellers' transcription of the diary, without annotation, is available online at the Library of Congress website.

Herndon's Writings About Lincoln
William H. Herndon was Lincoln's longtime friend, law partner, and biographer. The Lincoln Studies Center is collecting and editing for publication the extensive body of written material - letters, lectures, articles, and interviews - in which Herndon detailed his intimate personal knowledge of Lincoln. This volume will thus be a companion to Herndon's Informants, the compilation of the biographical materials about Lincoln collected by Herndon from others, and to Herndon's Lincoln, the classic 1889 biography.

Other Lincoln Studies Center Projects

Library of Congress Project - 1999-2002
As part of a plan to make images of Abraham Lincoln's personal papers available on the internet, the Library of Congress engaged the Lincoln Studies Center to transcribe and annotate all of its Lincoln autograph manuscripts and a substantial portion of Lincoln's incoming correspondence. The finished product - "A Collaborative Project: Library of Congress Manuscript Division and Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College" -has been making these transcriptions and annotations, along with the images of the documents themselves, freely accessible to the public on the Library of Congress website since 2002.

Testimonials from Lincoln Scholars:

  • "I have come increasingly to rely on the ease of access, speed, and comprehensiveness of the Library of Congress's Abraham Lincoln Papers website."
  • "The online version of the Abraham Lincoln Papers is changing the way I write and teach."
  • "This has become an indispensable tool for everyone in researching Abraham Lincoln and the American Civil War."

Herndon's Informants: Letters, Interviews, and Statements about Abraham Lincoln, University of Illinois Press?, 1998
Co-edited by Douglas L. Wilson and Rodney O. Davis and nearly a decade in the making,  Herndon's Informants is a premier archive of primary source material. Containing the first complete compilation of informant material collected by William H. Herndon, it was called by James M. McPherson in the New York Review of Books "a monumental achievement of scholarship," and has since become an indispensable resource for Lincoln studies. It is listed in 100 Essential Lincoln Books, which describes it as "an essential tool for any Lincoln biography." The full text of Herndon's Informants is now freely accessible online through University of Illinois Press.

Manuscript of Michael Burlingame, Abraham Lincoln: A Life - Online

Michael Burlingame's long-awaited biography, published in 2008 by the Johns Hopkins University Press in two large volumes, is believed by many Lincoln scholars to be the most exhaustively researched and fully documented life of Abraham Lincoln ever written. The work as originally submitted was even more extensive, but largely because of space limitations, it was considered necessary to condense both the narrative and the accompanying documentation. In the interest of giving scholars and other students of Lincoln access to the many references and sources that do not appear in the published version, the Lincoln Studies Center has secured permission from both author and publisher to present on its website the author's original unedited manuscript. This manuscript is accessible by individual chapters, which are displayed in searchable, read-only PDF format. The chapters of Volume One are now available.

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