FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Fort Wayne’s connection to Abraham Lincoln began with Lincoln Financial. The company is the reason Indiana boasts one of the most impressive collections of Lincoln history in existence.
Thousands of rare documents photographs and books, about and belonging to Lincoln, live on the lower level of the Allen County Public Library branch in downtown Fort Wayne. “This collection was founded, literally, as a clearing house for correct information about Lincoln, accurate information about Lincoln, “said librarian Jane Gastineau, “because at the time it was founded in the 1920’s, Lincoln had been widely mythologized and there was a lot of bad information out there.”
The founders of Lincoln National Insurance Company, as it was called then, where such enthusiasts that they started a Lincoln research bureau within the company and bought up the best of existing collections. For a time, the Indiana collection had its own museum in what is now Citizen’s Square, Fort Wayne’s city government building. When the museum closed paper items came to the downtown library, while three-dimensional items went to the state museum in Indianapolis.
“What we treasure most are the items that belonged to Lincoln, the items that were written by Lincoln,” said librarian Adriana Maynard. “We have about 130 documents and letters that were signed by Lincoln. We also have the Lincoln family photograph collection.”
The Lincoln collection is on display every day the library is open. One of the greatest tragedies in national history happened just five days after the end of the Civil War. No matter how much time passes the Lincoln collection will remain in Indiana, reminding us of how quickly the world can change and how much it has since that terrible day.