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Celebrating Freedom with FREE Admission!

4 Jul

In honor of the birth of the United States of America, Lincoln Memorial University and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is offering free admission to the Museum through the weekend.
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With one of the most extensive collections of Abraham Lincoln and Civil War artifacts in private hands, the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on the LMU Main Campus in Harrogate, Tenn., is a must-see for history enthusiasts. It also offers a wonderful experience for families looking for a special outing. Exhibited are many rare items – the cane Lincoln carried that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre, two life masks, the tea set he and Mary Todd used in their home in Springfield, and numerous other artifacts. Approximately 30,000 books, manuscripts, pamphlets, photographs, paintings and sculptures tell the story of President Lincoln and the Civil War period in America’s history. There are also children activities and interactive exhibits. Kids can don Civil War era clothes and partake in games and past times from the era.

While enjoying free admission to the ALLM, be sure to travel on down the road and visit the Cumberland Gap National Historical Park located just five minutes away in Middlesboro, Ky. Another great stop is the town of Cumberland Gap, which is home to quaint shops and LMU’s art studio which features a special Arts in the Gap exhibit this summer.

Happy Independence Day!

4 Jul

As a proud American on this Fourth of July, I am happy to live with the freedoms our founding fathers declared on July 4, 1776. Not to mention all the ones thathave followed as our Constitution has been amended over time. Today, I am doing some of the time honored traditions that have become synonymous with the Fourth of July in America. I will be spending time with my family, enjoying a nice backyard barbeque and watching fireworks this evening. I’m wearing red, white and blue and have an American Flag flying outside my front door.  It’s been the way I have celebrated Independence Day for nearly all of my 34 years and it makes me wonder how Abraham Lincoln celebrated this holiday.

At first I just wondered if LMU’s expansive archives included anything obscure or interesting about this national holiday. I was looking for a really great find that would make an awesome blog topic. My first stop was to check in with University Archivist Michelle Ganz. Of the top of her head, she couldn’t think of anything that fit the bill in the University archives, but she offered to check in the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum vault. A couple days later, her response came in: “All I have is a replica gun used in the revolutionary war.”

RATS… where else could I come up with a great blog topic that would be timely and connected to LMU? My next stop was to fire up the old search engine and “Google” the history of the Independence Day. The search gave me a brief history of the holiday and a snapshot of celebrations over time. To my surprise, July 4 celebrations began in 1777, though they were mostly localized. On July 4, 1778, General George Washington celebrated by giving his troops a double ration of rum. The local commemorations went on year-to-year, though Congress itself didn’t make it a national holiday until 1870. It wasn’t a paid national holiday for government employees until 1938.

My last stop on the search for an interesting July 4th blog post was Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Curator Steven Wilson. A published author of historical fiction, Steven is nothing short of interesting. If you’ve never been to LMU’s Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum, I encourage you to visit and seek out Steven for a tour. He has a special way of making history come alive.

Steven didn’t disappoint when I first approached him with the question “how did Lincoln celebrate the Fourth of July.” His first reply was classic Steven, “Let me check it out, I know he owned a jet ski.”

After some quick research, Steven got back to me with a more serious answer. Wilson’s research showed that the 16th President didn’t really do anything special or out of the ordinary on July 4. In the dark days of the Civil War, there were no double rations of rum from this Commander inChief. He left secretaries and Mrs. Lincoln to plan any Independence Day Celebrations on the grounds of the Executive Mansion. His July 4ths as President were spent seeing visitors in his office and receiving salutations from groups such as the Veterans of the War of 1812. I guess it was challenging to celebrate the birth of a nation that you were fighting to hold together.

Whether or not Lincoln actually participated in the fireworks and patriotic celebrations that exist today, it makes him no less a part of Independence Day in the United States. After all, freedom is a central part of the celebration and who in our history has played a bigger role in freeing a group of people than the Great Emancipator?

Honest Abe goes Hollywood

30 Mar

If you have a penchant for pop culture, like I do, then I’m sure you’ve heard that the Hunger Games had the third largest opening of any film in history.  It’s another example of a beloved book making a splash on the big screen.  One of this year’s other big hits at theaters, The Help, was also first an acclaimed book from author Kathryn Stockett. That adaptation even yielded an Academy Award for supporting actress Octavia Spencer, who brought Stockett’s Minny Jackson to life. The film also garnered several nominations and awards at various film festivals and awards presentations.  The horizon is filled with film adaptations of classic literature and more recently-released books.

June will bring the big screen version of Seth Grahme-Smith’s Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter. The highly-anticipated film based on the New York Times Bestseller offers the premise, what if the Civil War was fought not only over slavery, but to block the vampires’ access to human trade? It is yet another foray into film for Lincoln Memorial University’s namesake and the inspiration for the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum’s newest exhibit: Lincoln at the Movies.

The exhibit, which opens Friday, was developed by ALLM Curator Steven Wilson and takes a look at the 16th President and his influence, representation and relationship to the motion pictures. There are few more recognizable figures in history than the president known as “Honest Abe.” The story of his life and death has been told and retold on page, on stage and on the silver screen.

Audiences have flocked to see serious portrayals of Abe’s story from the 1912 blockbuster Birth of a Nation to the 1940s Abe Lincoln in Illinois, to 2011’s examination of his assassination in the movie Conspirator. Audiences have also seen his character portrayed in a more comedic light by actors and non-actors including pro wrestler Hulk Hogan and comedian Johnny Carson. In the movies, Lincoln has traveled through time, beamed aboard starships, unintentionally insulted his long-suffering wife, and even wrestled George Washington. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter will add another entry to that list of odd things he’s done on film that we’re quite sure Abraham Lincoln never really did.

Just as we're fairly certain Honest Abe never actually hunted vampires, we're he never addressed the students of San Dimas High.

Abraham Lincoln at the Movies uses photographs, artifacts, original posters and media to provide a means for today’s audience to see the constant and fascinating journey of Lincoln through American culture. The exhibit will also shine a light on LMU’s minor role in Lincoln’s life on film. In 1940, LMU was the site of the southern premiere of Abe Lincoln in Illinois. The film’s star Raymond Massey was on hand for the premiere and was also awarded a Lincoln Diploma of Honor for his performance in the motion picture and his role on stage.

The exhibit will be on display through February 12, 2013. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum is located on the campus of Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn. Admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $3.50 for senior citizens and $3 for children under 12. Housing one of the top five Lincoln and Civil War private collections in the world, the Museum is open Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from noon to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum gets aniversary gift from ETF

10 Sep

The East Tennessee Foundation (ETF) has been doing good works in this region for over 25 years. Their work is executed through grants and awards to non-profit organizations in 25-counties in East Tennessee.  LMU is proud to be one of those organizations. Throughout its history, the ETF has supported LMU and the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum with enrichment programs and by providing funds for special projects and events including the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival.

In 2011, ETF is celebrating 25 years of thoughtful giving – Neighbors caring for Neighbors. To mark the occasion and to demonstrate what the Foundation does in our 25-county service area, ETF will award 25/$2,500 grants (one $2,500 grant to one nonprofit in each of the 25 counties we serve) and one $25,000 ETF recognition endowment to a nonprofit located within our service area.

The unusual part of the 25th Anniversary Grant is that there was no application. All the recipients were evaluated and selected by the ETF staff and its board without even knowing they were under consideration.  That is what happened for the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum. One day, they got the call that they had been selected and a few weeks later ETF Senior Vice President for Programs and Regional Development Terry Holley presented the award to Museum Director Thomas Mackie.

Holley noted in her presentation that ETF and ALLM have partnered in the past to support a variety of educational and cultural programs. The Museum is a unique treasure in this region and ETF has supported efforts to promote public awareness and appreciation of LMU’s historical legacy of documentary resources relating to Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War era and regional Appalachian history.

The overall objective of our 25th Anniversary Celebration is to bring greater awareness and understanding throughout East Tennessee of how East Tennessee Foundation works with donors and through nonprofits in the region and how each person in our service area can have a relationship with the Foundation.

The Museum  will use the grant to complete one of our public programs later this year.

Pictured during the presentation are Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Philip Supina, Administrative Assistant for the Paul V. Hamilton School of Arts and Science Laura Mackie, University Archivist Michelle Ganz, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Assistant Director and Curator Steven Wilson, East Tennessee Foundation Senior Vice President for Programs and Regional Development Terry Holley, Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum Director Thomas Mackie, President B. James Dawson, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Evelyn Smith, Lincoln Historian and Professor of History Charles Hubbard and Vice President for Academic Affairs Clayton Hess.