Every day at President Lincoln’s Cottage we engage with visitors in conversation on difficult topics, from slavery to grief to immigration. Visitors, young and old alike, come here from next door and from around the globe. And occasionally, we get asked a question on a tour that stops us in our tracks – one we wish we could spend a half hour answering. Some of these questions, on their face, were innocent or simple, but on a second look they contain a level of complexity that leaves us wanting to know more.
Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, we created “Q & Abe” – a podcast that investigates real questions from visitors to the Cottage. Each episode, we’ll investigate a single real question a visitor asked us here.
At President Lincoln’s Cottage, we’re storytellers, historians, and truth-seekers – so we called on people whose expertise could speak to all the facets of these questions. Come down the rabbit hole with us as we discover answers to these questions.
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Episode 1: “How could Lincoln sleep, if slavery was happening?”
In this episode, we’ll explore a question asked by a second grader on a field trip to President Lincoln’s Cottage — “How could Lincoln sleep if slavery was happening?” Go down the rabbit hole with us as we speak to a Civil War historian, a sleep doctor, and a licensed professional counselor in search of answers. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.
Episode 1 Bonus: Dreaming of Emancipation
During our interview with Jon White, he told us a fascinating story about a Civil War soldier’s dream that illustrates the impact of the Emancipation Proclamation on the subconscious of everyday people. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.
Episode 2: “Is it ok to call her Aunt Mary?”
In this episode, we’ll dig into a question we received in several different forms — “Is it ok to call her Aunt Mary?” which visitors have asked about Mary Williams, a black woman working at the Cottage as a cook. Come exploring with us as we talk with two historians of the African-American experience in DC during the Civil War, an art curator, a literature scholar, and the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience as we search for answers. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.
Episode 2 Bonus: Role Playing and African-Americans
Adena Spingarn talks about why minstrelsy isn’t part of the popular consciousness as much as one might expect, and Chandra Manning tells us about the ways that black women in contraband camps asserted their presence, and their right to be present, beyond what Union soldiers expected of them. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.
Episode 3: “Why are there no pictures of Lincoln in his military uniform?”
In this episode, we’ll unpack a question from a Belarusian visitor: “Why are there no pictures of Lincoln in his military uniform?” Come along with us as we talk to a Constitutional expert, a civil-military relations scholar, an artist’s family, and our very own neighbors at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in search of answers. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.
Episode 3 Bonus: Mr. Diamond in the Service
In our conversation with the residents of the Armed Forces Retirement Home, Retired Staff Sergeant Jim Diamond told us a couple of incredible stories about his experiences serving in the army, including while he was working as part of the detail serving Arlington Cemetery and how he came to join the infantry after enlisting as a truck driver. Click here for more information, including an episode transcript.