Abraham Lincoln collection

Biographical and Historical Notes

The Lincoln Club of Delaware was founded in 1929 as an informal gathering of Lincoln admirers who met yearly for a dinner program celebrating the anniversary of Lincoln's birthday. In 1938, Lincoln Club founding member Frank G. Tallman gave his extensive collection of over 2,000 items related to Lincoln to the public library, and a committee of the Lincoln Club was formed to catalog and care for the collection. Tallman's collection included books, pamphlets, photographs, art, artifacts, and historical documents. The Lincoln Club cared for the Tallman collection at the Wilmington Institute Free Library where it was housed until 1972. In that year, the Club donated the collection to the University of Delaware and relocated the collection to the University's Goodstay Center in Wilmington. In 1998, the collection was transferred to the University of Delaware campus for better security and improved access for research and exhibitions.


Grier, Albert O.H. and Harold Brayman. A History of the Lincoln Club of Delaware. [Wilmington?]: Lincoln Club of Delaware, 1970.

Scope and Content Note

The Abraham Lincoln collection comprises a variety of Lincolniana collected and assembled by the Lincoln Club of Delaware. The collection includes Civil War era newspapers, art work, sheet music, and realia connected to the life and presidency of Abraham Lincoln. The core of the collection was assembled by Frank G. Tallman, a founding member of the Lincoln Club and private collector of Lincolniana. A significant series in the collection includes extensive correspondence documenting his collecting activities.

The Abraham Lincoln collection was a gift of the Lincoln Club of Delaware to the University of Delaware in 1972. Initially begun by Frank G. Tallman, the collection of correspondence, newspapers, artwork and photographs, and ephemera and realia related to Abraham Lincoln was supplemented by gifts from J. Stuart Groves and other members of the Club.

There are five series in the collection, arranged by type of material: I. Frank G. Tallman correspondence, II. Civil War era newspapers, III. Graphic Images, IV. Ephemera, and V. Realia.

Series I., Frank G. Tallman correspondence, documents his activities as a collector of Lincolniana. In addition to correspondence with booksellers, the series contains letters documenting the provenance and authenticity of specific items in the collection, such as the collection's copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, the Swiggert letters, the Thomas Worth original caricature, and the Ford Theater bill from the night Lincoln was assassinated. The series also contains a substantial number of pieces of correspondence with Lincoln bibliographer, Joseph Benjamin Oakleaf.

Series II. contains over seventy-five issues of Civil War era newspapers, mostly from Philadelphia and New York. The collection of newspapers includes a nearly complete run of The Philadelphia Inquirer from April 13 through June 14, 1865, covering the period of Lincoln's assassination and funeral, as well as the end of the War and the trial of the assassination conspirators.

Series III., Graphic images, contains artwork and photographs, including photographic portraits of Lincoln by Alexander Gardner and Alexander Hessler (printed nearly a century later by Yousuf Karsh), Currier and Ives prints of the assassination, death, and funeral of Lincoln, a cast bronze bust of Lincoln, prints of engravings and etchings of Lincoln, and an original pen-and-ink caricature of Lincoln by Thomas Worth. There are also nine photographs of the Lincoln conspirators and their execution taken by Alexander Gardner.

Series IV., Ephemera, includes facsimiles of Lincoln documents, sheet music, articles, publications, and other Lincoln-related miscellany. Sheet music related to Lincoln includes "President Lincoln's Funeral March," "Our American Cousin Polka," and "Our Brutus," a song published in New Orleans in 1868 in praise of John Wilkes Booth.

Series V., Realia, includes a Lincoln Badge worn during the presidential campaign of 1860, a piece of the bandage placed on Lincoln when he was shot and a small bow from the hat he was wearing that night, the Ford Theater playbill from the night of the assassination, and a reward poster for the capture of Booth and his accomplices.