Category Archives: Multimedia

Find Blog Posts on our New Website

Recently we launched a revamped website, which you can find at the same URL as before: The new site combines the dynamic content of this blog, with our previous informational website in a sleek new design. Though we don’t plan on shutting down this blog, all new content will be directly posted on the website.

The new website is divided into three main sections: Explore, Visit and Connect. A level down,History, Exhibits, Multimedia, Public Programs and Newsroom are among several blog-style pages that provide fresh content. (In addition we have standard pages on Plan a Visit, Education, Support and of course Tickets.)

We’d like to thank all of our loyal readers of this blog. It was the Cottage’s first real presence on the web, before our main website  really took off, and several years before we started our social media accounts on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and Pinterest.

As always, please feel free to contact us to ask any questions or share your thoughts on our online prescence via commentating on our website, posting to social media, emailing us at, or calling us at 202-829-0436.

Thank you,

-President Lincoln’s Cottage Staff


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New Site Under Construction

Readers of our blog:

You might be wondering why we haven’t posted much to this blog recently (our newsletter notwithstanding). It’s not because there hasn’t been plenty of Lincoln news and anniversaries. Instead, we have something exciting to announce (in addition to the fact that a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation signed by Lincoln is going to be on display in the Cottage from September 22 until February 2013!!!)

For the last two months we’ve been undertaking a complete redesign of our website, The  website combines all of the wonderful content dozens of staff members have written for this blog, with a refreshing, sleek look that is easily navigable. The result is a brand-new website that will make it even easier to: explore detailed information about the history of the Cottage, plan a visit to Lincoln’s summer retreat, and connect with us to make your President Lincoln’s Cottage experience even more meaningful. (Once the site is fully live and navigable, we’re going to shut down this blog since the current site will be routinely updated with press releases, new research, event announcements and a whole lot more.)

We’re in the middle of launching the revitalized website, with the same address of So stay tuned and bear with us as we start an exciting new chapter of President Lincoln’s Cottage’s online experience.

If you have any questions, please contact us at Thanks!

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A Beautiful Spring at President Lincoln’s Cottage

We couldn’t resist sharing some photos of the Cottage on this beautiful (and hot!) day. We hope you will follow in Lincoln’s footsteps and escape the heat and humidity of downtown DC by visiting the Cottage and enjoying the cool breezes and beautiful grounds – it is lovely at this time of year!

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Don’t forget about our Memorial Day activities this Monday. Will we see you there?

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Latest Edition of the Cottage Courier

The latest edition of the Cottage Courier is now available on our website! Stay up-to-date with all that is happening at President Lincoln’s Cottage by subscribing to receive our quarterly e-newsletter.

In the fall edition, readers can preview two upcoming exhibits that will be on view in the Robert H. Smith Vistior Education Center at the Cottage. “Seat of War: A Panoramic View of Civil War Washington through Historic Prints” shows rarely seen prints from the Cottage collection. This exhibit is on view for just over a month from December 7, 2011 – January 15, 2012. “Can You Walk Away?” will take an indepth look at the state of slavery today, 150 years after all legal forms of slavery were abolished.

The Cottage 2012 ornament – “Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation” – is now on sale. This ornament commemorates the 1862 preliminary draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, much of which was drafted at the Cottage at the Soldiers’ Home. This beautiful commemorative ornament features the 1957 painting “Abraham Lincoln Writing the Emancipation Proclamation” by Jes W. Schlaikjer. The 1862/2012 ornament is the second in the President Lincoln’s Cottage Sesquicentennial Series. Collect all five!

Readers also do not want to miss the history article Lincoln’s Other Proclamation: The Creation of the First Annual Thanksgiving Day Tradition by Zachary Klitzman.

Read the Cottage Courier HERE.

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Two Sites, One Man: Experiencing Lincoln through Historic Sites

By Kevin Bowman

Though I opted out of the eleven-day inaugural train ride from Springfield, IL to Washington D.C., I have had the unique opportunity to physically follow and interpret Abraham Lincoln at two sites, the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and President Lincoln’s Cottage,  as he passed from one momentous chapter in his life to the next. By interpreting Lincoln at multiple stages of his life, I feel I have gained insight into Lincoln’s transition from a family man and up-and-coming politician to President of the United States. For those of you considering a visit to President Lincoln’s Cottage know that your experience here will be unique and complimentary to any time you have spent at other Lincoln sites.

From March through November 2009, I worked as a temporary Park Guide at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, IL, operated by the National Park Service,  during their peak tourist season. Suffice to say, being the Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration, it was slightly busy. At its busiest, the Lincoln Home sees 80-90 Lincoln Home tours to 1,400-1,500 visitors. It kept us stepping. At the beginning of January, 2010, I began working as a part-time interpreter for President Lincoln’s Cottage, operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a non-profit organization, during their slowest month (January),made slower due to the record-breaking snowfall.  To say it has been a change in pace is an understatement. I have thus far seen a daily average of four to six tours of 10-20 visitors. To be sure, many historic sites are completely closed to the public in the winter months, but the Cottage chooses to remain open year-round. Even at the peak of tourism (springtime in D.C.), the Cottage limits visitation to no more than 500 visitors per day, and has to turn visitors away when all the tours are full.  By design, the Cottage experience is meant to be in-depth and intimate, offering visitors a full hour at an even pace.    This is made possible because of its off-the-beaten path location in D.C., a city where most tourists focus their attention on the Smithsonian Museums and major memorials on the National Mall.  President Lincoln’s Cottage strives to keep tours from feeling rushed, and visitors often comment that they appreciated not being “herded” through the site.

I make this comparison not to distinguish importance, but to highlight the uniqueness of President Lincoln’s Cottage. Unlike most other Lincoln historic sites, the Cottage was only recently opened to the public (February 2008) after a 7 year restoration effort. Because it was only recently made available to the public, it is still relatively unknown compared to other Lincoln historic sites. What’s more, the Cottage offers an immersion into Abraham Lincoln’s presidency that is hard to match elsewhere. For instance, at Lincoln Home you get a glimpse of the real Abraham Lincoln, a man who has lived the American ideal and risen from the bottom of the ladder. At the Cottage, you meet this same man, again in the context of where he lived, now responsible for defending that American ideal as President of the United States. In combination, what an amazing story these two sites offer.

In a perfect world with plenty of vacation time, I would suggest taking the time to visit Lincoln Home NHS in Springfield and then travel to Washington, D.C. and visit us at President Lincoln’s Cottage. The dynamic in the two locations is mind-boggling. In visiting these sites back-to-back you will understand and appreciate the unimaginable shift in Abraham Lincoln’s life. Through the stories told here you will see both his strengths and weaknesses as he waded through the years of our nation’s greatest trial. Here you will see a man hoping to escape it all, but rather greeting and gazing upon reminders of his responsibilities and decisions at every turn.

What an honor and privilege it has been to work at these two locations and share the story of this ordinary, yet extraordinary man. I hope you have the opportunity to visit us and other sites to explore the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Mr. Bowman is an Historic Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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Another Snowy Day at the Cottage

This winter has been unusually snowy for Washington, D.C., leading to numerous opportunities to capture lovely winter wonderland photographs of the Cottage.

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Abe Lincoln on the Big Screen: The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln

By Niles Anderegg

Abraham Lincoln has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating people in American history. He has inspired many writers and artists to depict his life and times. The same has been true for filmmakers in and out of Hollywood. Doing a simple Internet Movie Data Base (IMDB) search reveals 214 films and TV programs that list the 16th president as a character. Some of these films are well-known, such as Young Mr. Lincoln and Abe Lincoln in Illinois. But the first full length feature film about Lincoln is the 1924 silent movie, The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln.

Movie poster for The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln

The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln was by no means the first film about Lincoln. In the first two decades of the 20th century, there were several short films (one or two reels–about 12 to 24 minutes) about Lincoln’s life, though these generally focused on a specific incident of history. Lincoln was also a minor character in several other films of the period, most famously in D. W. Griffith’s Birth of a Nation. The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln, however, is the first to attempt a depiction of Lincoln’s life from birth to death. (The only other film to cover Lincoln’s entire life is another D. W. Griffith film, a “talkie” from 1930, simply called Abraham Lincoln.)

Unlike Griffith’s Lincoln biopic, which has been criticized for its historical inaccuracy (for example, Griffith has Lincoln giving his second inaugural address at Ford’s Theater right before the assassination!), The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln was praised for its accuracy, in part because the producers of the film, Al and Ray Rockett, did exhaustive research into Lincoln both by reading available secondary sources and by conducting their own interviews of those who were still alive and could remember Lincoln. Despite all of this research, the movie is not without its historical errors. Perhaps the biggest flaw has to do with the Gettysburg Address. When the Rocketts were doing research they interviewed 101-year-old former Senator Cornelius Cole, who told them that he had accompanied Lincoln to Gettysburg and that the president had made his famous speech without any notes.  So the movie depicts Lincoln delivering the speech extemporaneously. This, of course, is not true: Lincoln carefully prepared his speeches, especially by the time he was president, and the Gettysburg Address was no exception. Furthermore, Senator Cole does not appear on John Hay’s list of people who traveled with Lincoln to Gettysburg.

Historical accuracy is not the only issue that contributes to making a good Lincoln film. Probably the most important factor is the casting of Lincoln. In The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln, the actor chosen to play Lincoln was George Billings, who was not a star by any stretch of the imagination. Most of his career was on the stage and The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln was his most successful film role. This success, however, did not come without problems: Billings, like a number of actors before and after him, would become typecast as Lincoln. In fact, IMDB lists only five actor credits for him, four of them, including The Dramatic Life of Abraham Lincoln, are for playing the president. And it was not just on the silver screen that he would be typecast as the 16th president: he also portrayed Lincoln on stage. One of the plays he appeared in was a two-man show that toured the midwest in 1927. In that production, the only two characters were Lincoln and his secretary, John Hay. Billings, of course, played the role of Lincoln, but interestingly the role of Hay was given to a young actor by the name of Henry Fonda, who would go on to greater fame playing a young Lincoln twelve years later, in John Ford’s Young Mr. Lincoln.

Mr. Anderegg is an Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

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