Indiana State University Newsroom

ISU librarian makes Lincoln exhibit a success

March 17, 2009

In honor of the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the Lilly Library, located on Indiana University's Bloomington campus, dedicated the Main Gallery exhibit area to the country's 16th president and asked an Indiana State University librarian to create it.

Cinda May, ISU assistant librarian, head of digital and archival services and a history lecturer, accepted the challenge to create the exhibit and be a guest curator. May, who formerly worked for the Lilly Library as the assistant head of public services, jumped at the opportunity to show Indiana residents how much of an impact Lincoln had on this state and vice versa.

The exhibit, which opened Jan. 26, is filled with 140 Lincoln artifacts including books, documents, art, music, photographs, medallions and memorabilia, all pertaining to different parts of Lincoln's life.

May, who initially began her research for the exhibit last July, worked diligently for months going through the library's collection in order to select pieces for the exhibit. Aside from choosing the actually pieces that would be displayed in the exhibit, May spent a great number of hours creating layouts for display cases and writing out labels for each piece displayed in the exhibit.

"I wanted to give people a sense of what it was like to live in Indiana in the 19th century," said May. "The exhibit also illustrates specific incidents of Lincoln's youth and how those experiences have been portrayed over time."

The exhibit, which will be open to the public through May 9, is full of rare materials such as a leaf from Lincoln's sum book, John James Audubon's "The Birds of America," water color illustrations, sheet music and advertising, early Indiana newspapers and the president's first law book.

May, who is a public historian herself, said that the universal themes found in the exhibit are things we can all relate to, not only residents of Indiana, but of the United States as well.

"How we commemorate the past reveals much about us as a society," she said. "Abraham Lincoln has touched our lives in so many ways. He is part of the American psyche."

Aside from working in the library, May teaches a history course on public history, which provides history majors with a sense of what it is like to work in the real world as a public historian.

The exhibit is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-6 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.

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Contact Cinda May, Indiana State University, assistant librarian, head of digital and archival services, at or 812-237- 2534.

Writer: Jennifer Spector, Indiana State University, media relations intern at or 812-237- 3773.


Story Highlights

Cinda May, ISU assistant librarian, head of digital and archival services and a history lecturer, accepted the challenge to create an exhibit on Abraham Lincoln and be a guest curator.

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