by Christine Fagan, Collection Management Librarian
Lincoln arrived this Fall at the RWU Library in thirteen rolling crates–the long awaited result of a grant proposal submitted in 2011 for Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War. The exhibition stood over eight feet tall in five, three-dimensional, sections focusing on Lincoln as President, secession, slavery, civil liberties and finally, his legacy. It was based on the original exhibition on display at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. Subsequently, the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities digitally reproduced the images from the exhibition and mounted them on panels that travelled to over 200 libraries across the country in commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. At RWU, a complementary exhibition was mounted with local Civil War artifacts from the University Library’s archival collection.
The Grand Opening took place on September 23rd with The Honorable Frank J. Williams, retired Rhode Island Supreme Court judge and nationally recognized Lincoln scholar, delivering the keynote address. This marked the beginning of a stimulating six weeks of programming, featuring faculty lectures, films, a Socrates Café, a Student Showcase, Civil War re-enactors, and performing arts events. The RWU Chorus and Prism of Praise provided a rousing sendoff to the exhibition with the GOSPELFEST on November 2nd. The exhibition was significantly enhanced by all of these programs and the student and community engagement that resulted.
Programming was organized by the Lincoln Exhibition Planning Committee, composed of faculty and administrators from across campus. The RWU Library is deeply grateful for the multi-disciplinary support received in producing this unique educational opportunity for the RWU and nearby local communities.