SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) — The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will display one of the original, handwritten editions of the Gettysburg Address beginning Nov. 18.
The museum said this is to give more people the opportunity to appreciate not just Lincoln’s most famous speech, but one of the most famous speeches ever given in American history.
“In 272 powerful words, Abraham Lincoln captured the pain of the Civil War and the truth of what was at stake: a new birth of freedom,” said Christina Shutt, executive director of the museum. “This handwritten copy of his address is a national treasure.”
Lincoln delivered the now famous speech on Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of a national cemetery for the thousands of Union soldiers killed at the Battle of Gettysburg. The State of Illinois has owned this edition of the address, known as the Everett Copy, since 1944, when money was raised to purchase it from private owners.
“Most people know a few famous phrases from the Gettysburg Address, but they haven’t thought much about what the words mean or how they influenced the nation’s ideals,” said Brian Mitchell, the museum’s director of research and interpretation. “Seeing the document in person offers a rare chance to connect personally and reflect on what it asks of us as individuals and as a country.”
The museum will offer free admission on Nov. 19, the 159th anniversary of Lincoln’s historic speech.
“We hope offering free admission allows more people to appreciate it in person,” said Shutt.
The display also includes features to assist people with visual impairments. By scanning QR codes with their mobile phones, the museum said visitors will be able to hear a reading of the speech and the display label that explains the speech’s significance or see an easy-to-read text version of the speech.
For anyone who can’t see the document in person, the museum offers an up-close look at it online, explaining its history and how it differs from other copies. It also examines the meaning and impact of Lincoln’s words.
The document will be on display Nov. 18-28. After that, it returns to a climate-controlled vault for safekeeping.