April 2017 Newsletter


Erin Directors Photo

Dear Friends,

I’m delighted to share we’ve been recognized as the Best Museum Off the Mall! Thanks to all of you who voted in support of President Lincoln’s Cottage. We are honored by this award and yet it’s not stopping us from making changes to how we do things. Our team has been working on redesigning how visitors are oriented to the tour, scrapping the traditional video in favor of the conversational style used throughout the Cottage itself. We based this decision on the wealth of visitor feedback we have collected over the years, and our desire to find ways to deepen the impact of our work. Early feedback on the new experience suggests visitors feel the changes add to the sense of this site as a place of reflection and pilgrimage and fits with our efforts to provide new scholarship and new perspectives.

Our vision and mission inform every aspect of our work, and we are constantly striving to provide new perspectives on the past and to provide a platform for brave ideas for our shared future. The annual Lincoln Ideas Forum exemplifies this perfectly, using the Cottage in a way that is inspired by Lincoln’s own use of it. We know Lincoln exchanged ideas with his contemporaries here on the biggest issues of their day, so it is only fitting we do the same. This year’s Lincoln Ideas Forum brought together activists, scholars, and experts on a variety of issues including civil rights and immigration, and looked at how we can diffuse hate and build unity. If you weren’t able to join us, please see photos and video of the event in our recap.

With appreciation,


In Memoriam: Remembering Gwen Hendly

AFRH residents and PLC volunteers George Wellman and Gwen Hendly at Family Day, September 2016

With a heavy heart President Lincoln’s Cottage staff said goodbye to a dear friend, beloved long-time supporter and volunteer, Gwen Hendly, on March 31, 2017. “Ms. Gwen” as she was affectionately called by many, was a distinguished veteran and resident of the Armed Forces Retirement Home. Always an eager volunteer, Gwen selflessly and generously gave her time to the Cottage for more than ten years — and always with a smile. To honor Gwen, staff wanted to share some of their favorite stories and memories. To read their reflections, click here.

LINCOLN IDEAS FORUM 2017: Hate of the Nation

On April 13, 2017, President Lincoln’s Cottage hosted our third annual Lincoln Ideas Forum. We launched this program in 2015 for the 150 anniversary of Lincoln’s last visit to the Cottage, the day before his assassination. Our goal is to commemorate the ideas he created and the work he accomplished while living here, as well as to highlight his unfinished work.

This year the forum, subtitled “Hate of the Nation,” explored injustice, division, fear, and hate, alongside the stories and ideas of Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War. Speakers included: Dr. Rebecca Barrett-Fox (Arkansas State University), Dorie Ladner (Civil Rights activist), Seth Levi (Southern Poverty Law Center), Alex Nowrasteh (Cato Institute) and moderator Laura Schiavo (George Washington University). For a full recap, photos, and video of the Forum, click here.



Join us as author and Pulitzer-prize nominated reporter Robert O’Harrow Jr. discusses his latest book, The Quartermaster: Montgomery C. Meigs, Lincoln’s General, Master Builder of the Union Army with Michelle Krowl, the Civil War and Reconstruction specialist in the Manuscript Division at the Library of Congress.

WHEN: Wednesday, May 24

TIME: Reception- 6 PM, Conversation- 6:30 PM

CLICK HERE for more info on the program and how to RSVP.

Memorial Day Tours of USSAH National Cemetery

WHEN: Monday, May 29

10:00 am. FREE. Meet at bandstand adjacent to Cottage at 9:30 am.

10:45 am and 12:30 pm. FREE. Meet at bandstand adjacent to Cottage at 10:15 am and 12:00 pm. Tours last approximately 30-45 minutes.

For more information on the program, and to reserve a spot on the tour, CLICK HERE.

INTRODUCING: New Visitor Orientation Experience

Out with the video! On April 3rd, President Lincoln’s Cottage introduced a new, more interactive visitor orientation experience. The Cottage was a place where Lincoln came to do some of his best thinking. At the beginning of every tour, guides provide context, evidence, and inspiration from Lincoln’s experience here to help visitors cultivate their own brave ideas. For more information about the rationale behind the change, and for more photos, click here. Follow the brave ideas and conversation with #HomeforBraveIdeas.

PRESERVATION UPDATE: New Carpet Installation

In early April the new, ethically made carpeting was installed in the Drawing Room, Library, and Emancipation Room. Thanks to all of the donors and supporters from the cocoa matting campaign that made it possible for us to raise the funds to replace the previous carpet. We hope you’ll come visit and see it in person soon.

For more background on the cocoa matting campaign, and information on the carpeting, click here.

 STAFF SPOTLIGHT: Callie Hawkins

For those who don’t already know, Callie Hawkins is the secret force behind the Programs Department. This month we interviewed the Assistant Director for Programs, who has been on board for eight years, to find out more about her role at the Cottage (or rather, what doesn’t she do). We caught her quoting Mary Lincoln, cursing ketchup (“it just freaks me out”), explaining what to do if your 17th century straw hat catches fire, and professing her love for Kristi Yamaguchi. Oh, and she’s too humble to mention this, but 2016 was a big year: she met His Holiness the Dalai Lama and former Secretary of State John Kerry, but you won’t find her bragging. Read more here.

LOCAL STUDENTS WANTED: SOS International Summit application due May 8 for DMV area participants

Know any young abolitionists? The local (Virginia, Maryland, DC) participant application for the 2017 Students Opposing Slavery International Summit is coming to a close Monday, May 8. Download the application here. This year the Summit will take place June 26-30.

Questions? Email: Education@LincolnCottage.org or call: 202-829-0436 ext. 223.

THANK YOU: Best Museum Off the Mall

Thank you for helping voting us as Best Museum off the Mall in the Washington City Paper’s Best of DC Readers’ Poll. We couldn’t have done it without your support!



PLC Programs Intern Juliana Venegas in the new orientation room

From January to April 2017, President Lincoln’s Cottage was lucky to have Juliana Venegas on board as the Programs Department Intern. We sat down with Juliana, a graduate student at the George Washington University in the Museum Education program, where she explained her role in the new orientation experience, her take on historic house museums (spoiler: she doesn’t necessarily like them) and oh, she’s a mean tap dancer as well. Read more here.



Support our educational programs, preservation efforts and public events by making a contribution to President Lincoln’s Cottage. Donate online today.


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