By Jodie Jacobs, Special to Tribune Newspapers
5:56 PM EST, January 27, 2013
Toys, furniture, photographs and insightful documents pull Abraham Lincoln, his parents and his descendants off the history pages at "The Lincolns: Five Generations of an American Family," an exhibit coming to the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis.
Open Feb. 9 through Aug. 4, the exhibit celebrates the sesquicentennial of the Emancipation Proclamation issued Jan. 1, 1863. The museum also has a signed copy of the historic document.
"Most Lincoln projects focus on the political aspect, like (Steven) Spielberg's 'Lincoln,' or the military aspects of the Civil War," said exhibit organizer Dale Ogden, the museum's senior curator of cultural history. "Our collection focuses on the Lincolns."
The Indiana State Museum exhibit combines items on loan with those from a $20 million Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection obtained by the museum in 2009.
Pages of the "Sum Book," a homemade math text constructed by a teenage Lincoln growing up in southern Indiana, came from five sources: Indiana University's Lily Library, Illinois' Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, the Library of Congress, the Chicago Historical Society and the Indiana Historical Society.
"It's the crown jewel," Ogden said. "He made up the math problems on the pages when he was 14 and 15 years old. This is the earliest document known of Lincoln's."
The exhibit contains a wealth of personal items, including those that came from Hildene, the Vermont estate built by son Robert Todd Lincoln when he was chairman of the Pullman Co.
"I'm holding photos that Abraham and Mary Lincoln held of their children. I'm handling toys that Willie played with," Ogden said.
The exhibit also has moving correspondence.
"We have Robert Todd Lincoln's personal copy of the insanity verdict (of Mary Todd Lincoln). It's pretty compelling since he instigated the hearing," Ogden said.
Other correspondence is from Mary Todd Lincoln to her friends that tell of the difficulty she was experiencing dealing with her husband's death.
Many of the photos on view belong to the Lincoln Financial Collection, including a mezzotint of Lincoln, Mary and their children.
"It's a composite. They never could get everyone together for a photograph," Ogden said of the piece, made in 1873 after Lincoln's death.
If you go
The Indiana State Museum is at 650 W. Washington St., Indianapolis. For more information, visit indianamuseum.org or call 317-232-1637.
For accommodations and dining choices to suit your budget, go to visitindy.com/indianapolis-hotels.
Splurge: Conrad Indianapolis, 50 W. Washington St.; 317-713-5000; conradindianapolis.com
Wallet-friendly: Hampton Downtown, 105 S. Meridian St.; 317-261-1200; hamptondt.com.
Dining institution: St. Elmo Steak House 127 S. Illinois St.; 317-635-0636 stelmos.com.
You choose the cuisine: Indianapolis City Market ranges from American, Cajun and deli to French, Mediterranean and pizza. 222 E. Market St.; 317-634-9266; indycm.com.
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