Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we created “Q & Abe” – a podcast that investigates real questions from visitors to the Cottage. This bonus episode accompanies the second episode of Season 4, “Where’s all the furniture?”
As we talk to all kinds of experts for the show, we sometimes end up with cool tidbits that don’t quite fit in the main episode, but we don’t think that should keep you all from hearing them. Erin Carlson Mast explained how the interpretation team made the decision that it was going to be ok for visitors to sit on the antique furniture in the house, and told us the story of how the Cottage acquired some objects from when Lincoln was in residence.
In addition to the embedded media player below, you can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Stitcher / Google Podcasts or wherever you get podcasts. You also can read below for a transcript of the episode.
Joan Cummins: Hi everyone! This is Joan and Callie from Q&Abe, a podcast by President Lincoln’s Cottage.
Callie Hawkins: In conversation with our experts for the show, we sometimes end up with fascinating moments that don’t quite fit in the main episode, but we don’t think that should keep you all from hearing them.
JC: This bonus episode accompanies episode 4.2, Where’s all the furniture?, so if you haven’t listened to that one yet, it might be a good place to start.
CH: As we were talking with Erin Carlson Mast, she explained how the interpretation team had initially made the decision that it was going to be ok for visitors to sit on the antique furniture they had placed in the house.
Erin Carlson Mast: Now I will say for a few things like the idea of using some of the furniture, allowing visitors to sit on reproductions, or in some cases even very sturdy period pieces, we did have a lot of important conversations about the ethics of that. And where we ultimately landed on it is, as long as all of this stuff is here for use and was donated for that purpose, how is sitting on a sofa any different than, you know, operating the doors and the windows, and, and using the house – the authentic artifact itself – every single day? It made no sense to elevate this period sofa that had nothing to do with the Lincolns or any other notable moment in history, and yet we were using the house itself day in and day out, as it had been for over a century.
JC: We also asked her to tell the story of how the Cottage acquired some objects that would have been in the house when Lincoln was in residence.
ECM: As an example of, you know, there’s always something more to learn, after doing all these many years of research and after opening to the public in 2008, I was contacted by a gentleman in Florida who shared with me that he had a – had prints of George and Martha Washington that in his family’s history, uh, the story was that they had been in President Lincoln’s Cottage throughout the Civil War and were there when the Lincolns lived there. And he told me I’m, I don’t believe that these were stolen by my family, um, they weren’t gifted to his step grandfather, I believe, who had been a – He had been a finance administrator for something like the better part of a decade in the early 20th century, and when he retired he was told he could take a few things, as tokens of their appreciation, and he took these two portraits of George and Martha Washington, and some other pieces of furniture that had supposedly been in the Cottage during Lincoln’s time, and when his step grandfather had passed away there was an estate sale, and um, the, the family didn’t want to keep any of it, so they were going to sell it all, but he had asked to have these prints, and he had been the owner of them ever since. But he saw an article that we were opening President Lincoln’s Cottage, and he immediately recognized the connection, and he wanted to reach out and offer to donate them, cause he said, now that it’s a museum, now that it’s open to the public, I feel like these should be with you all and in the Cottage. So we did accept them, so there are original items that are from the Lincoln era that are in the Cottage, but, you know, those two items are not more important than the wealth of stories of what um, what Lincoln and so many others did and accomplished there.
CH: If you’d like to come on a tour and see the prints for yourself – along with the rest of the Cottage – you can find tickets at www.lincolncottage.org.
JC: We’ll see you in a week with our next full episode! This episode was produced by me, Joan Cummins, with Callie Hawkins and support from the President Lincoln’s Cottage team. Music for Q&Abe was written, performed, and is copyrighted by Clancy Newman.
CH: Q&Abe is possible thanks to generous supporters of President Lincoln’s Cottage. To find out how you can support this podcast and other programming, visit www.lincolncottage.org. You can also write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
JC: President Lincoln’s Cottage is a home for brave ideas. Stay curious!