Experts to help bring thousands of Lincoln documents to life

The Papers of Abraham Lincoln project is one step closer to publishing documents from Abraham Lincoln online thanks to the help of experts.

The project spent the last 17 years collecting digital images of any document written by or to Abraham Lincoln. It is now moving toward sharing the collection with the public, but it is first consulting volunteer experts who have experience in publishing similar works online.

Chris Wills with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum said the project is a huge undertaking but offers important information for the public to access.

“We want to give a complete picture if possible of the work he was doing as a politician, a lawyer and, most importantly, as president of the United States during the Civil War,” Wills said.

Wills said collecting copies of the papers was extremely successful and about 106,000 documents related to Abraham Lincoln were found, some from around the world, including Japan and Australia. Wills is excited that the next phase of publishing the Lincoln papers is on the horizon.

“The idea has always been that we would make these Lincoln documents available to the world digitally so that anybody anywhere can get online and look up the details of what Lincoln was doing,” Wills said.

The voluntary review team includes Daniel Feller, director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson project at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville; Patrick Lewis, director and editor of the Civil War Governors of Kentucky Digital Documentary Edition; and Susan Perdue, director of the Documents Compass program at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.

“We have gone to people who have been involved in those sorts of projects, who have successfully gathered documents and published them digitally, and asked them for their advice on how we do that here successfully,” Wills said.

The experts have visited the library and the collection in Springfield and are now forming recommendations. Wills says they hope to have the recommendations in April so they can make a decision for a plan of action in the summer.

Only about half of the 106,000 papers have been transcribed, and just 175 documents have been edited and annotated with background and context information. Residents can learn more about the project and volunteering with transcription at papersofabrahamlincoln.org.

–Illinois News Network

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