Funding may halt Lincoln project at U.S. Archives

WASHINGTON – Researchers who have been combing through the National Archives for Abraham Lincoln documents since 2006 may have to halt their work due to funding cuts.

A five-year, $1.4 million charitable grant that has been helping to fund The Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project ran out last month, while Illinois state funding for the Springfield, Ill.-based operation has been cut by more than half, officials were quoted by The Washington Post as saying.

While the overall scope of the project will likely be reduced, work at the National Archives in Washington, which holds the majority of Lincoln-related documents, may have to stop altogether, Project Director Daniel Stowell was quoted by the newspaper as saying.

Research in Washington would halt by next June without new funding, Stowell said. After that, the project would retrench and focus on its work in Springfield.

The project has an annual budget of $775,000, 60 percent of which is funded by federal and private money.

New discoveries are still being made about Lincoln. The project has uncovered new information about the characters around him by focusing on documents Lincoln received.

“We’re building a new Lincoln Memorial,” Stowell said. “We’re building it not out of granite and marble, we’re building it out of the words of Abraham Lincoln and all of his contemporaries.”

Last year, the project announced it had found a medical report written by a doctor who rushed to Lincoln’s side after he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. The 21-page report by Dr. Charles A. Leale, who was first to reach the injured president, had apparently never been published.

The project began in 1985 with a search for Lincoln’s legal papers, which were published in four volumes and posted online in 2008. In 2001, the project expanded its scope to all Lincoln papers.

Researchers have been transcribing and annotating documents from the years before Lincoln’s presidency, and they are still searching for papers from his war years.

About 75,000 documents at the archives remain to be examined, Stowell said.

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Information from: The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com