Raising 'Lincolns’ for Abe


At a time when interest in Abraham Lincoln is high, after the election of fellow Illinoisian Barack Obama, History has embarked on a new year-long initiative to honor the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth by raising money to conserve six historic sites related to his life and presidency.

“Give a Lincoln for Lincoln” will encourage citizens to donate Lincoln-head pennies, $5 bills or larger donations. Money will be donated to the National Park Foundation and the National Trust for Historic Preservation to preserve Lincoln’s birthplace in Hodgenville, Ky.; his boyhood home in Indiana; the Lincoln home in Springfield, Ill.; and the Lincoln Memorial, Ford’s Theater and Lincoln’s Cottage in Washington, D.C.

The effort is the latest educational and community based initiative by Dr. Libby Haight O’Connell, the chief historian and senior vice president of corporate outreach for Art & Entertainment Television Networks. Since joining the company in 2005, she has developed such initiatives as Take a Veteran to School Day for History, A&E’s Intervention town hall meetings and The Biography Channel’s Lives Changing Lives initiative.

She’s urging U.S. residents to participate in the most recent campaign, either by donating or visiting one of the sites to mark the bicentennial.

“By donating your Lincoln head pennies or going online and making a larger contribution, we can work together to preserve Lincoln sites for future generations,” she said in a prepared statement.

The channel will work with schools and communities to raise a minimum of $200,000, or $1,000 for each year since Lincoln was born, for educational and preservation programs at each of the sites. A contest for schools, planned for January, will reward teachers and students for designing Lincoln-themed lesson plans and coin-collection boxes; other contests are planned for February through May.

History will also design an interactive minisite at www.history.com/lincoln featuring original short-form videos and educational materials about the president. An electronic field trip for schools will be streamed from Washington, D.C., at the site next Feb. 12. And History will donate content to special exhibitions at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History, Ford’s Theater and the Library of Congress, among other sites.

The network’s Idea Book for Educators will include original content and primary sources from the Library of Congress for lessons on the 16th president. It also will offer for school libraries a box set, containing educational materials developed by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and incorporating History-produced interviews with noted scholars.

More announcements about events keyed to this initiative are promised in the future.