Thursday, March 12

Abe Lincoln - Where it Began

We've been studying the Civil War this year as part of our The Good & the Beautiful history curriculum.  So while in the Springfield, Illinois area, we took a detour to the Abraham Lincoln home and presidential library...

Upon first arrival at the Lincoln Home National Park, it seems like a little slice of the 19th century has just sprung up in the middle of a large, modern-day city.  It's a nice step back in time...
The houses are well-preserved and beautiful.  One of the homes is his actual house, which still has much of the original furnishings and belongings in it.  The other is a museum, with letters, photos, and mementos from Lincoln's life.

It's pretty amazing to stand there on the same carpet, looking at the same furniture and surrounded by the same accoutrements that the family itself experienced.  The museum staff have worked hard to ensure the provenance of each item in the house and are quick to tell the story of anything you ask about!

The house is much smaller than you'd imagine, especially for a family with so many children and a live-in nanny.  While the downstairs is dedicated to business and formal living space, the upstairs is where each family member's personality really shines through.
We were able to see the (very tiny!) kitchen, with its original wood stove, which was the heart of the home.  Across the street, at the museum, were illustrations made of the family in the home, as well as the history of the family members.  The Lincoln story is a tragic tale, and not just for Abe...

Just a hop, skip, and a jump from the historic site is the Lincoln Presidential Library, which has an amazing museum inside!  We've visited several presidential libraries, and this one is the most engaging and best for visiting with children.
Making your way through the museum, we time travel to the various parts of Lincoln's life.  It begins in a small, darkly-lit cabin where is diligently reading, and then progresses into his law office, where the children are creating havoc!
As we approach the end of the tour, we visit the White House.  It is decked out for a Union party, and the life-like statues and props make it seem as though you're invited, too!  Shortly after this is a movie about Lincoln's life that has a somewhat surprising ending.  Just be forewarned if you are visiting with small children...

Our son is big into designing and creating historic costumes, as you can see on his blog, and he always thoroughly examines uniforms, clothing, and accessories on display at historic museums to ensure he's creating them with accuracy!

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