New Digital Tools for Lincoln’s Birthday

(February 11, 2014) On the eve of Lincoln’s 205th birthday, the House Divided Project announces a series of new digital multi-media tools to help teachers and students commemorate Abraham Lincoln’s most important autobiographical statement –a short but revealing document that he produced in December 1859 as he prepared for a presidential bid. These new classroom resources include:

  • Lincoln on Lincoln –a documentary short filmed version of Lincoln’s 1859 autobiographical sketch
  • Lincoln on Genius –a new annotated edition of the 1859 sketch on the fast-growing Rap Genius platform
  • Lincoln on Quora –a lively, well-curated discussion on the question, “Was Lincoln Self-Made or Self-Invented?”
  • Lincoln on Multi-Media  –a full-page teaching guide to the 1859 sketch from the new site: Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition

The documentary short film (6 mins.) produced by Dickinson College student Leah Milller (’14) and narrated by Dickinson College Theatre professor Todd Wronski offers a compelling tour of Lincoln’s life through his own words and images.

The annotated version of Lincoln’s 1859 autobiographical sketch now available at PoetryGenius represents the beginning of a brand new partnership between the House Divided Project and the Genius platform spearheaded by Dickinson College student Will Nelligan (’14).  We have created two classroom-inspired tools.  The first is a general annotated guide to the autobiographical sketch.  The second is especially designed as an open Common Core platform for studying the sketch.  Our new dedicated page at RapGenius can be found here.

Using the social Q&A site Quora, recently profiled by the New York Timeswe have created a lively exchange on the question:  Was Abraham Lincoln self-made or self-invented, especially during the years before he became president?  So far, this question has produced over 50 thought-provoking answers, mostly from participants in our “Understanding Lincoln” online course, and has generated nearly five thousand views.

During Fall Semester 2013, we built Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition as part of the “Understanding Lincoln” open online graduate course that we launched in partnership with the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.  That site, recently named as one of the “Best of the Humanities Web” by NEH EDSITEMENT, features an expanded guide to the Autobiographical Sketch (December 20, 1859) which it ranks as #5 on a list of the 150 “most teachable” Lincoln documents.  The page includes a host of resources for teachers and students, such as:

  • Annotated transcripts
  • Soundcloud Podcast
  • Videotaped close reading by Lincoln expert Matthew Pinsker
  • Documentary short film
  • Custom Google Map
  • Image Gallery
  • Excerpts from How Historians Interpret
  • Other Primary Sources (including the transcript for the 1860 newspaper article that emerged from the sketch)
  • Further reading

Lincoln’s Writings: The Multi-Media Edition is still in development and will be further expanded in Summer 2014 when we launch the second round of the “Understanding Lincoln” course with our partners at the Gilder Lehrman Institute.  Registration for the 2014 course will open by March 15, 2014.  See more information at the Gilder Lehrman website.

For more information on this effort and all matters related to the House Divided Project, please contact Director Matthew Pinsker at hdivided@dickinson.edu or pinskerm@dickinson.edu