You Can Now Read Thousands of Abraham Lincoln's Personal Letters Online

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons / Wikimedia Commons

Abraham Lincoln has authored some of the most important works in U.S. history, from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Gettysburg Address. Many of the more obscure writings from the 16th president are just as fascinating, and thousands of them are now available to read online, Smithsonian reports.

The Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. is home to about 40,000 documents from Lincoln's personal collection. Many of those papers were transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College in Illinois between 1999 and 2002, and in 2018, the LOC opened the project up to the internet. Since then, volunteers have transcribed 10,000 letters in the Lincoln collection. Roughly half of the 40,000 documents can now be searched for and read digitally at the Library of Congress's website.

The Lincoln Papers collection contains rare versions of famous documents, including a first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation, his first and second inaugural addresses, and the two earliest known copies of the Gettysburg Address. History buffs may also be interested to read through the thousands of personal letters Lincoln sent and received during his lifetime. Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, and John Hay are a few of the famous figures with whom he corresponded. Some of the more noteworthy documents in the collection are dated after the president's death: A condolence letter from Queen Victoria to Mary Todd Lincoln was sent in response to his assassination in 1865.

The digital collection is now available to browse at If you're interested in being on the volunteer side of a similar crowdsourcing project, the Library of Congress is currently looking for people to transcribe 16,000 pages of suffragist documents.

[h/t Smithsonian]