at the University of Delaware
The Abraham Lincoln Collection of the University of Delaware perpetuates the memory of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States, through books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, broadsides, archival documents and manuscripts, photographs, art, objects of material culture, and other memorabilia. The Collection contains several thousand items pertaining to Lincoln’s private life and public career.
The Abraham Lincoln Collection, bequeathed in 1938 to the Wilmington Institute Free Library by Club member Frank G. Tallman was, at the time, one of the finest private collections of Lincolniana in the country. The Tallman gift formed the core of the Lincoln Collection, but Club member J. Stuart Groves and other collectors also donated material, and other supporters have contributed funds to enable purchases. Among the best known items in the collection are a Lincoln-signed copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, a shawl worn by President Lincoln on a visit to Gen. George McClellan, handwritten notes by Lincoln that contain his signature, and photographs by Alexander Gardner.
In 1972, the Lincoln Collection was donated to the University of Delaware and relocated to the University’s Goodstay Center in Wilmington, where it was housed in three rooms with period furnishings. Donald A. Rydgren (1922-2017) was curator and host of the Lincoln Collection for 45 years. Over the years, members of The Lincoln Club of Delaware and the University of Delaware administration determined that significant portions of the Lincoln Collection would be more appropriately preserved, displayed, and available for research in the University Library’s Special Collections Department. Beginning in 1998, selected materials were transferred from the Goodstay Center to the Special Collections Department, located in the Hugh M. Morris Library on the Newark campus.
The Club actively supports the Collection, adding books and other memorabilia as they become available, and paying for the upkeep and maintenance of existing exhibits. Records of the Lincoln Club of Delaware are also housed in Special Collections. Donations for maintenance and expansion of the Collection are welcome. Tax deductible donations in support of the Collection may be made to the University of Delaware, attn: Lincoln Collection, University of Delaware Library, Museums and Press; Newark, DE 19717-5267.
Special Collections in the Library
Selections from the Lincoln Collection are regularly displayed in the Lincoln Case adjacent to the Special Collections Gallery on the second floor of Morris Library. For information on current and past Lincoln exhibitions, please visit the University of Delaware Library exhibitions and search “Lincoln.” Books and printed material are cataloged in DELCAT Discovery and may be searched with the keywords “Lincoln Collection,” limited to “Special Collections” in the advanced search function. Descriptions of the Lincoln Collection and other archival collections related to Lincoln are also available in these guides:
- Abraham Lincoln collection
- Autograph Abraham Lincoln documents from the Abraham Lincoln collection
- Lincoln Club of Delaware records
- Richard H. Stewart collection of Abraham Lincoln material
- Otto C. Rentner Lincoln and Civil War Literature Collection
The Collection at the Goodstay Center
No longer housed at the Goodstay Center, all Lincoln collections were transferred to Special Collections at the University of Delaware Library.