February 2018 Newsletter


Erin Directors Photo

Dear Friends,

February 19, 2018 marked our ten-year anniversary of opening President Lincoln’s Cottage to the public. When we first opened back in 2008, we quickly established a reputation for pushing boundaries in scholarship and methods. Yet few could have predicted what we would become in only a decade. In the past two years, the Cottage became an independent 501(c)3 organization, and was recognized with the following awards:

  • Presidential Award for Extraordinary Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons
  • American Alliance of Museums Award for Innovation in Education
  • Best Museum Off the Mall
  • 50 Best Places to Work in Washington, D.C.

The foresight and vision of our Board, staff, and supporters have allowed us to continually achieve big goals and exceed expectations. We thank you for your support and encouragement, and for helping to spread the word about the Cottage.

We will continue to live our mission. Lincoln’s character guides the choices we make internally and externally and promote the value of understanding history in all we do.

Personally, it’s been a thrill to be part of the evolution of the Cottage over time. What I’ve witnessed is that some things never change — the history of what Lincoln experienced here resonates with people on a very personal level. Whether it’s the loss of a child, the expectations of leadership during times of crisis, deep divisions in country and family, or even something as simple as the act of a daily commute, visitors find something in Lincoln’s experiences here that are human and relatable. This place moves people — sometimes rocking them to their core. And yet, I’m most proud of the fact that in spite of what stays the same, the Cottage itself has continued to change — continuously, responsively, to best serve the public. We won’t stop, and we look forward to serving as a beacon of hope in many forms, for years to come.

Thank you for your support,


Scholarly Advisory Group: Ten Years of Adding to the Lincoln Story

President Lincoln’s Cottage during the time Lincoln was in residence.

Over the past ten years, we’ve been honored to enlist a variety of illustrious experts, historians, and scholars. Not only is producing new scholarship a key piece of our mission, but we also aim to include at least one scholarly article in each monthly newsletter. This wouldn’t be possible without our Scholarly Advisory Group.

In the spirit of our anniversary, we asked them to reflect on what the Cottage means to them. We inquired: what do you think has been added to the Lincoln story by President Lincoln’s Cottage being open and available to the public? In other words, what void are we filling? What part of the Lincoln story is made possible by the Cottage being here? Or, why is the Cottage a must visit?

Click here for their answers.


This February marks ten years of President Lincoln’s Cottage being open to the public — celebrate with us!

To celebrate 10 years, we’ll be offering tickets at select dates for only $10.

Join us Saturday, March 24th for another $10 admission day. In honor of National Reading Month, anyone who brings in a library card will receive the discounted price. Meanwhile kids and Cottage members get in for the price of a Lincoln (that’s $5, not $.01).

Starting in March, a same-edition collection of books Lincoln had in his library will be on display for one month.

While we’re adding more tours, we still highly encourage you reserve your tickets ahead of time. RESERVE TICKETS NOW

Cottage Conversation: Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary

Join us as Walter Stahr, along with Jared Peatman, discuss Stahr’s most recent book Stanton: Lincoln’s War Secretary. Learn the story of Abraham Lincoln’s indispensable Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, the man the president entrusted with raising the army that preserved the Union.

When: Thursday, March 15

Time: 6pm reception; 6:30pm lecture



Fourth Annual Lincoln Ideas Forum: “We Cannot Escape History”

Last year’s presenters at the third annual Lincoln Ideas Forum (2017)

Towards the end of his Second Annual Message to Congress in 1862, Abraham Lincoln implored his countrymen to remember that future generations would be looking back at the Civil War era: “Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history,” he wrote. “We of this Congress and this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves.” This year, those stirring words serve as our theme for our fourth annual Lincoln Ideas Forum. Join us as we bring together experts, scholars, and the public in an exploration of the historic contexts of emancipation, sexual assault, hate groups, and immigration alongside the modern consequences.

When: Friday, April 13

Time: 10am – 12pm

While this program is FREE and open to the public, we do ask you reserve a spot. Reserve your tickets here. For more information on the program and the speakers, click here.


Barbara Billet with daughters Kellie and Amy in front of the Cottage vestibule doors they grained in 2007

Keeping an old building up to snuff is a lot of work. Just ask Senior Preservationist Jeff Larry. Over the past ten years the Cottage has undergone countless updates, tweaks, modifications and changes to ensure the house is preserved properly so that generations to come can enjoy this historic gem (not to mention the eight-year-long restoration of the Cottage ahead of the Grand Opening on President’s Day in 2008). From preserving the cast iron steps, to installing functioning yet period-appropriate lighting, from fixing leaks in the roof after a storm, to simply managing the wear and tear of being open 362 days a year to the public, the Cottage has relied on countless tradespeople over the past ten years.

Read on for Jeff Larry’s full reflection on some key tradespeople — mostly local, family-run businesses — and what working on the Cottage means to them. Click here for the Preservation Update.


Staff and visitors’ brave ideas scattered on the Cottage stairs, February 14, 2018

Each February the National Trust for Historic Preservation encourages all partner sites to participate in a “heart bombing campaign,” where sites shower a historic place with love and paper hearts on Valentine’s Day. Each year the Cottage participates, but this year, since it’s our 10-year anniversary, we added a special twist. Since we are a Home for Brave Ideas, we asked visitors and staff alike to answer: over the past ten years, what is a brave idea you have had, or witnessed? Click here for our staff’s responses.




Join us Saturday, May 19 and Sunday, May 20 to lounge on Lincoln’s front lawn, sip bourbon, and enjoy live bluegrass music as part of our fourth annual Bourbon and Bluegrass event. All proceeds go towards preservation efforts at President Lincoln’s Cottage. This event sold out in record time last year! Even though we added an extra day, we anticipate selling out again. The wait list last year was hundreds of names long. Skip the line by becoming a Team Lincoln member and enjoy an exclusive ticket pre-sale a full week before the general public.  


The special pre-sale for $100+ Team Lincoln members will start at noon, Monday, March 5. General ticket sales will begin at noon, Monday, March 12. (All pre-sale tickets are subject to being checked to our membership records). Questions? Email: bourbonandbluegrass@lincolncottage.org


Team Lincoln member, history buff and proud mom, Virginia Cobo (left), with Associate Director for Development, Nora Cobo (right)

Abraham Lincoln always loved his “angel mother” as he allegedly referred to her. For this month’s Team Lincoln spotlight, we’re featuring a mom that’s closely tied to the Cottage. Find out how a retired teacher, avid history buff, habitual Proclamation reader, and proud member of Team Lincoln all the way from Shreveport, Louisiana fell in love with the Cottage on a sunny autumn day. Hint: it all started with a Cottage Conversation.

Read Ginny Cobo’s spotlight here.






MUSEUM STORE UPDATE: Black History Month Books

To celebrate Black History Month, we’ve added a few new books to our Museum Store shelves, including a history of race in our nation’s capital, and a general survey of slavery from the first Africans brought to America through Reconstruction. Shop for American Slavery and Chocolate City: A History of Race and Democracy in the Nation’s Capital in person (pop into our Museum Store located in the Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center) any time 9:30am-4:30pm each day (we open at 10:30am on Sundays).

Vote President Lincoln’s Cottage the “Best Museum off the Mall”

The Washington City Paper has started its Best of D.C. Readers’ Poll for 2018 and we’re asking you — our colleagues, members, friends, and visitors — to help name President Lincoln’s Cottage as the “Best Museum off the Mall” again. Voting ends March 4 at 11:59 PM.

Voting is easy. It takes only a minute, but it requires you log in to either your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Click the link and log in (upper right hand corner) then go to “Arts and Entertainment” and type in President Lincoln’s Cottage in “Best Museum off the Mall.”


Thank you for your support!


  • For President’s Day, the Washington Post created a list of 10 things you may not know about Abraham Lincoln. Number five? President Lincoln’s Cottage.
  • Erin Carlson Mast and George Saunders, author of Lincoln in the Bardo, talked about ghosts and Lincoln on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, on WAMU Radio. 
  • Federal News Radio invited Erin Carlson Mast on FEDtalk to discuss “President’s Day Lessons from the Greats.”
  • Director of Programming, Callie Hawkins, was published in The Public Historian, the official scholarly journal of the National Council on Public History; she wrote an article about President Lincoln’s Cottage’s rapid response to the 2016 election.


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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