By GUY LAMOLINARA
"Mr. Lincoln's Virtual Library" became a reality on Feb. 3, when the Library's National Digital Library Program released a new Web site dedicated to the 16th president.
The new site, part of the American Memory online historical collections, is a preview that offers selections from two collections at the Library that illuminate the life of Lincoln.
The donation of $1 million from Donald G. Jones, Terri L. Jones and the Jones Family Foundation, which makes the site possible, was celebrated that evening in the Jefferson Building's Members' Room.
"Don Jones has been a friend of the Library and, since 1990, a supporter of our electronic initiatives," said Dr. Billington. "He was instrumental in the establishment of our congressional database THOMAS and the National Digital Library Program, and now he is helping us again by making it possible for the Library to share with the nation its important and popular collections relating to Abraham Lincoln."
"I am pleased to be able to aid the Library of Congress in its important work in bringing the riches of its collections to all Americans," said Mr. Jones. "The National Digital Library Program is leading the way in making intellectual content freely available to students, scholars and lifelong learners anywhere, anytime."
The event was so noteworthy that even Lincoln himself attended -- in the form of presidential impersonator Michael Krebs, who so closely resembled the man he was playing that attendees who compared the face of Mr. Krebs with that of Lincoln (on view on large-screen demonstration monitors in the room) were hard-pressed to note any dissimilarities. Mr. Krebs's performance can be seen and heard online.
Mr. Jones reminisced how, growing up in Springfield, Ill., he had been a paperboy to the historic home of Lincoln. "I am continuing my tradition of being a paperboy from an analog format to a digital one," he said.
The gift will also help the Library forge partnerships with other major repositories of Lincolniana, creating a "virtual library" of Lincoln materials, linked via the Internet.
The Library's richest manuscript collection of Lincoln materials is housed in the Robert Todd Lincoln Collection, deposited in the Library in 1919 by President Lincoln's only surviving son. This unparalleled collection, first made available to the public in 1947, contains more than 15,000 items, including such treasures as Lincoln's drafts of the Emancipation Proclamation, his first inaugural address and letters about political and domestic troubles. (The Emancipation Proclamation is on view at the Library in the exhibition "American Treasures of the Library of Congress.")
Additional treasures of Lincolniana came to the Library in 1950 through the generosity of Alfred Whital Stern of Chicago. Highlights of the more than 11,000 items in this collection include copies of three speeches delivered by Lincoln during his term as a U.S. representative from Illinois, Lincoln's scrapbook documenting his debates with Stephen A. Douglas during the Illinois senatorial campaign of 1858, and materials relating to the 1860 presidential election, his assassination and funeral.