The Indiana Historical Society’s traveling exhibition The faces of Lincoln, as seen in 2004 and 2005 aboard the Indiana History Train, opened July 24 at the North Manchester Center for History, 122 E. Main St., North Manchester. The exhibition will be on display through Aug. 30. Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays. The exhibition will also be open during Funfest.
Drawn from the Lincoln collections of the Indiana Historical Society, acquired in 2003 with the help of the Lilly Endowment Inc., The Faces of Lincoln explores the image of Abraham Lincoln in three distinct sections: “Developing the Image,” “Creating the Image” and “Idealizing the Image.”
“Developing the Image” takes the visitor on a journey through the development of photography and begins with a discussion of the different types of photography during the period Lincoln lived. A timeline of photographic advancements depicts different types of photos and images of Lincoln, such as daguerrotypes lithographs, stereographs, cartes de visite, cabinet cards, tintype, ambrotypes and portraits.
These panels also explain how the new art of photography helped Lincoln become a well-known political figure, juxtaposing, for instance , different photographs taken of Lincoln in 1859, 1861, 1863, and 1865 at important stages of his candidacy and presidency.
The second section, “Creating the Image,” considers how photographs and prints created Lincoln’s public image and how his words and deeds made him even more memorable. This segment contains popular photographs and lithographs of Lincoln that were altered in some way to portray him in a different light, as well as cartoons and sketches that were created to lampoon or criticize him.
Lincoln was never photographed with his family; this section of the exhibition displays the images that printmakers created to depict Lincoln with his family as well as the few photographs ever taken of Mary Todd Lincoln and the Lincoln children. Also featured in this section is a timeline of Lincoln’s presidency and the Civil War, punctuated by the photographs and images corresponding to important events.
The third sector in the exhibition, “Idealizing the Image,” explains how Lincoln’s assassination elevated him from man to an American icon. Images relating to his death, including portraits created of his deathbed scene and illustrated covers of funeral march sheet music written for him, reveal the outpouring of grief and confusion that surrounded his death.
The section also contains images created by printmakers that portrayed Lincoln in symbolic scenes, with angels or George Washington, for instance. The connection between Washington and Lincoln became a common theme in images after Lincoln’s death as America elevated both men to the status of heroes. This section also explores the use of Lincoln’s image on currency or in connection with products and businesses.
Lincoln’s legend continues to grow even 147 years after his death. For many Americans
his image has come to represent the virtues of strength, honesty, perseverance and sacrifice, and his life has come to illustrate the American dream of rising from humble beginnings to the highest public office.
It is easy to idealize this man who rose to the presidency of the United States, preserved the Union, freed the slaves and kept government running during the most tumultuous times. It is difficult to separate Lincoln from his legend, but images of his face show his humanity. The Faces of Lincoln exhibition reveals the genuine man behind the myth.
The North Manchester Center for History has been at its current location in the former Oppenheim Department Store since 2000. It has 26,000 items in its collection, many of which are on permanent display. Temporary and traveling exhibits are also hosted. Current temporary exhibits include Buried Treasures featuring items discovered during the recent renovations to downtown North Manchester, and The Oppenheim Legacy, a history of the Oppenheim store and family.
For more information, visit indianahistory.org.