SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – An original, handwritten copy of the Gettysburg Address is going on display at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum.
The library and museum’s copy of the speech – known as the Everett Copy – will be exhibited in the Treasures Gallery from Friday to Nov. 30. The copy will then be returned to a climate-controlled vault for safekeeping.
Friday is the 158th anniversary of Lincoln’s deliverance of the speech at the dedication of Gettysburg National Cemetery. The Gettysburg Address is regarded as not just Lincoln’s most famous speech, but one of the most famous speeches ever given.
“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 Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. “This handwritten copy of his address is a national treasure. We hope everyone will come see it in person, but we’re also proud to offer a new tool so anyone, anywhere can learn about the Gettysburg Address.”
The Everett Copy is just one of five surviving copies that was written by Lincoln himself. The State of Illinois has owned it since 1944 when it was bought from private owners.
“It is a tremendous honor to care for this document and to continue interpreting it and sharing it with our visitors,” said Dr. Christian McWhirter, the library and museum’s Lincoln historian. “The Gettysburg Address is the most famous speech in the English language and still inspires us to purse the ‘unfinished work’ of building a better nation.”
New display features this year will make the copy more accessible to people with visual impairments. QR codes will allow people to listen to the speech and the displays that explain the speech’s significance or see an easy-to-read text version of the speech.
People who are unable to make it to the library and museum can visit a new webpage to learn about the speech and the Everett Copy.