Lincoln’s Reading List

Perhaps in connection to last week’s post on one of my old archival haunts, I have to let my history nerd flag fly this week. I recently came across a link on Tumblr to a list of the books that Abraham Lincoln checked out from the Library of Congress while he was in the White House! As my practicum was at a Lincoln library, I was intrigued to learn more.

While I don’t believe in disturbing patron privacy, I was excited to learn more about Lincoln’s reading habits, as he is always portrayed as a voracious learner/reader (plus I’m pretty sure patron privacy gets thrown out the window once you’ve been dead for over a century).

His selections reflect a lot about Lincoln, the man, and America, the nation at war. There are multiple books on Mormons, which probably reflects Lincoln’s hopes for a Western ally (where the Mormons dominated).  There are also multiple history books; light reading or strategy lessons? Who can say? There are also a number of drawing books! One can only hope that the president himself was artsy, but it seems more likely that they were for his children or wife. There are also many volumes of poems, songs, and hymns, which perhaps inspired Lincoln’s speech-writing.

Readin' up on those Mormons! (Image source)
Readin’ up on those Mormons! (Image source)

Interesting, indeed, to peer into someone’s brain and try to figure out why they wanted certain information. And what will the modern-day equivalent be in 150 years? Will researchers study Obama’s internet browser history? I guess time will tell…


One thought on “Lincoln’s Reading List

  1. Book of Mormon – hmmm, good choice Abe. Being a Mormon myself, I find this particularly interesting. Your post causes me to wonder, how would I stack up if someone were to judge me by my reading list. Good food for thought. Good post.

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