Founded in Wilmington in 1929, the initial activities of the Lincoln Club of Delaware centered around its annual dinner and program commemorating the February 12th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s birth. In 1938, Frank G. Tallman, one of the founders of the Lincoln Club, presented his extensive collection of Lincolniana which was one of the finest private collections in the United States and numbered nearly two thousand items, to the Wilmington Institute Free Library where it was housed in a special room. The Lincoln Room originally opened May 26, 1941, and was furnished as a room of the period by members of Mrs. Tallman’s family and the Lincoln Club of Delaware. Over the years, numerous individuals interested in the collection have donated books and other items to the Lincoln Collection.
In 1972, the Lincoln Collection was donated to the University of Delaware and relocated to the University’s Goodstay Center in Wilmington where it was housed in three rooms with period furnishings. Over the years, members of the Lincoln Club of Delaware and the University administration determined that significant portions of the Lincoln Collection would be more appropriately housed and displayed in the University’s Special Collections Department located in the Hugh M. Morris Library on the Newark campus. Relocating much of the rare and valuable books, manuscripts, artwork, and artifacts to the Special Collections Department at the University of Delaware Library would ensure that this material will be housed in a secure, controlled environment specifically created for the storage of rare books and manuscripts. Accordingly, during the summer of 1998, selected materials were transferred from the Goodstay Center to the Special Collections Department of the University of Delaware Library. Portions of the Lincoln Collection will remain at the Goodstay Center, where the University will continue to make space available to the Lincoln Club of Delaware. The Library has also made facsimile reproductions of original manuscripts and artwork which will be displayed at the Goodstay Center.
The construction of a case to house a permanent, rotating exhibit of material from the Lincoln Collection was completed in August 1998. The initial exhibit of material from the Lincoln Collection which was mounted in December features Currier & Ives prints and other artwork, sculpture, a unique ceramic tile portrait of Abraham Lincoln, nineteenth-century illustrated sheet music published after Lincoln’s death, and a sampling of books from the Lincoln Collection’s extensive holdings of more than two thousand items.