Abraham Lincoln Brought to Life in Major Exhibit at Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum

Jan 17th, 2013Press Release from Lehigh County Historical Society

Jill Youngken, Asst. Director/Chief Curator

Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum

610-217-8868 cell

610- 435-1074, Ext. 20



January 17, 2013


Abraham Lincoln Brought to Life in Major Exhibit at

Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum

● Historical Guests   ● Opening Program   ● Rare Artifacts

Saturday, February 9th, 2013, 1:00 pm


Allentown, PA—Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Greatness is the title of a new exhibit to open at the Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum on Saturday, February 9th at 1:00 p.m.  The announcement was made today by Joseph Garrera, Executive Director of the Museum.  “Anyone interested in learning more about the principles and purpose that guided Lincoln’s life will enjoy this exhibit.  It will appeal to people of every age and background,” said Garrera.

“The exhibit will showcase more than 500 objects including artifacts from the Lincoln era,” said Garrera.  Museum officials contend that the Keystone State played a significant role in Lincoln’s life and rise to power.  The sixteenth president’s great-great-grandfather Mordecai and his son John Lincoln (Lincoln’s great-grandfather) once called Berks County their home. “Pennsylvania delegates in Chicago at the Republican National Convention of 1860 shifted their votes to the Lincoln column,” said Garrera.  “That shift gave candidate Lincoln the support necessary to win the Republican nomination.”

More than 3,000 square feet of exhibit space will tell an epic story of Lincoln’s presidency. A selection of over 100 Lincoln images, many life sized, will greet visitors.  A group of more than 50 vintage pieces of rare Lincoln statuary, some dating back to 1860, including John Rogers’ esteemed 1868 Council of War, depicting Abraham Lincoln, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, and Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grantas a group of three,will be on display.

On opening day, descendants of two historical figures connected with Lincoln history will make guestappearances at theHeritage Museum.  The great-great-granddaughter of celebrated stage Actress Laura Keene, Doris Levitzski of Middletown, Delaware, will visit the Museum dressed as Keene.  “Doris bears a striking resemblance to her historic ancestor,” said Garrera.  Keene was starring in the play Our American Cousin on stage at Ford’s Theatre the night Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. Immediately after the shooting, she raced to the presidential box and cradled Lincoln’s head in her lap as he lay dying.

Sergeant George E. Dixon of the Veteran’s Reserve Corps 14th Regiment served as a military guard for the Lincoln assassination conspirators who were on trial.  His great-great-grandson Ed Isaacs of Norwalk, Connecticut, will attend the exhibit opening bringing with him the actual Civil War Diary his great-great-grandfather used to record his historic experience while he was assigned to guard the conspirators before their execution.

The Dixon Diary was an informative and valuable historic discovery that further elucidates the most famous military execution in history.  Written in his own hand, Dixon’s diary is an eyewitness account that lists the men who guarded the assassins.  Dixon attended the trial of the conspirators each day and while in the courtroom examined the bullet that killed President Lincoln and the pistol Booth used to kill the President.  The diary also reveals the names of the four executioners who stood under the scaffold and sprang the platform that sent the conspirators to their death.

Both descendants of these historical figures will visit the Museum for the full opening day events.  They will answer questions and pose for photographs with visitors.  “This is a rare opportunity for the public to connect with history, meeting and speaking with descendants of historical personalities. It’s an experience that brings people one step closer; it enriches our connection to the past,” said Garrera.

Children will have fun with special hands-on crafts and activities.  They can experience toys that a young Lincoln might have played with, enjoy coloring projects, make Lincoln crafts, and much more.

Significant artifacts in the exhibit include:

  • A wooden cane made from the gallows that hung the four Lincoln conspirators condemned to death.
  • Extremely rare original photographs from the Lincoln presidency.
  • Cast made from Lincoln’s hands once owned by the original sculptor Leonard Volk.
  • A selection of authentic relics from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, including a piece of silver bullion fringe that once adorned the Lincoln Funeral Train Car in 1865.
  • Decorative mourning objects including silk ribbons, medallic art, and steel engravings produced in 1865.
  • A selection of historic newspapers including the New York Herald and Frank G. Leslie’s Weekly will also be on display.

With Steven Spielberg’s epic motion picture drama, Lincoln, captivating audiences across the country, the exhibit-opening program will feature a slide show outlining a history of how Abraham Lincoln is portrayed on the big screen.  From Henry Fonda to Gregory Peck and countless others, Abraham Lincoln has been portrayed in more motion pictures than any other American historical figure.

The program will be presented by Joseph Garrera who previously served eleven years as president of the Abraham Lincoln Group of New York.  Garrera currently serves on the Board of Advisors to the Lincoln Forum that supports and promotes Lincoln History nationally.  He serves on the Board of the Abraham Lincoln Association in Springfield, Illinois, and the Board of the Lincoln Society of Virginia.  Garrera has presented more than 200 scholarly programs on Abraham Lincoln at such sites as the Lincoln Presidential Museum, the Antietam National Battlefield in Sharpsburg, Maryland for the National Park Service, and for the United States Historical Society in Richmond, Virginia.

Admission to the exhibit-opening event is FREE to members, $6.00 for adult non-members, and $3.00 for non-member children.  The exhibit opens at 1:00 p.m.

The exhibit is possible with the support of The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, dedicated to perpetuating and expanding Lincoln’s vision for America and completing America’s unfinished work, and with the support of the Charles H. Hoch Foundation.

The Lehigh Valley Heritage Museum is a teaching institution that attracts a diverse audience.  Its collections of historical Americana include over 30,000 three-dimensional objects, 3 million documents and more than 75,000 vintage photographs.  The Lincoln exhibit will remain on display through June 30th during regular Museum hours of Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm, Sunday from 12:00 Noon to 4:00 pm, Closed Monday.  The Museum is located at 432 W. Walnut Street in Allentown.   Parking is available in the rear of the Museum, on the street, and in nearby lots.  For more information, contact Jill Youngken, Assistant Director/Chief Curator, at 610-217-8868 (cell) any time of day or at 610-435-1074. Visit www.lehighvalleyheritagemuseum.org or visit us on Facebook.


# # # END # # #

In This Post