Thursday, February 17, 2011

2011 Lincoln Prize Announced

Gettysburg College and the Gilder Lehrman Institute have announced that the 2011 Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Eric Foner for his book, The Fiery Trial: Abraham Lincoln and American Slavery. Foner, a named professor at Columbia University, has written several books on Lincoln and the Civil War era, including a couple of well-regarded volumes on Reconstruction.

Perhaps just as interesting as this award was the committee's decision to class all of the six other finalists with Honorable Mention status.

Though I have not yet read Foner's book, I imagine that it offers something recently lacking in books about Lincoln's views on race and slavery: a sophisticated consideration of a very complicated subject. Too often, Lincoln's words are judged by today's standards and understandings of race, which usually lead to unnecessarily harsh condemnation or a complete misunderstanding of the context in which they were made.

The Lincoln Prize will be awarded to Foner on May 11.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Alfred Whital Stern Collection of Lincolniana

Earlier this week, the Jewish Journal published an article about noted Lincoln collector Alfred Whital Stern, whose 11,000 item collection was donated to the Library of Congress in 1950. It is difficult to overestimate the significance of this part of the collection, which alongside the presidential papers given by Abraham Lincoln's son Robert, forms the heart of the extensive catalog of Lincoln-related in the Library of Congress.

Perhaps the most interesting discovery in this article, for me, was the fact that Stern donated over 1400 books to Hebrew University in Jerusalem a few years before he donated the majority of the collection to the Library of Congress.

As Daniel Weinberg of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop says in the article, "Stern was a monumental figure, his name is writ large in my mind of the Lincoln collectors."