FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Since 2009, tens of thousands of Abraham Lincoln artifacts have been in the basement of the Allen County Public Library. It’s open to the public, but not many are aware of that. The ACPL, along with the Friends of the Lincoln Collection of Indiana, and thanks to a big donation from the late Ian Rolland’s family, will bring those artifacts up to the library’s main floor and create The Rolland Center for the Study of Abraham Lincoln.
The plan was announced Thursday evening during the annual Rolland Lecture. The Rolland Family was on hand, and said they would dedicate $1,000,000 to get the fundraising campaign going for the center. The campaign aims to raise $5,000,000.
In 2008 the Lincoln Financial Foundation closed the Lincoln Museum on Berry Street, and started searching for a new owner for the vast collection of artifacts from Lincoln’s time. The Smithsonian, Library of Congress, Gettysburg, and the Lincoln Presidential Library all vied for the collection. However, the State of Indiana was awarded the collection, in part because of a capital campaign driven by Rolland.
The collection was split between the Allen County Public Library and the Indiana State Museum. Nearly 20,000 books, images, letters and more are in the Allen County Public Library’s basement. Library officials said they will clear room on the Main Branch’s first floor to display the collection in a museum-like way.
The initiative will also includes establishing Rolland Center fellowships. This will allow historians and scholars to come to the Center to study.
An exact timeline or location on the library’s first floor have not been determined.