The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum at Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate was the final thing we did together when our friends were visiting in June. The week they visited we had lots of hikes planned. But, because it rained most days, we had to adjust our plans a little. Thursday afternoon, their last one here, it poured. Consequently, a museum seemed like a good place to spend the afternoon.
Lincoln Memorial University was built after the Civil War to repay the people of the Cumberland Mountains for their loyalty to the Union during the war. Many of them had suffered during the war as the area changed hands frequently. Lincoln Memorial University was established in Harrogate, Tennessee, and started out as a work-study university, to make it affordable for anyone. When the first class entered in 1910, it cost less than $10 per semester to attend, including room and board.
Today Lincoln Memorial University has about 2,000 undergraduate students and close to 3,000 professional and graduate students. They have a College of Osteopathic Medicine, a College of Veterinary Medicine, a College of Nursing, a College of Education, and a Law School. Many of the people in the area who have a college degree got it from Lincoln Memorial University.
As part of that memorial to Abraham Lincoln, the University dedicated a library and museum to him. The Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum just underwent a two-million dollar renovation and it is top-notch. It got the stamp of approval from our park historian, Ranger Lucas. If a Civil War scholar says it is a good museum, it must be good.
The museum, is, in fact, top-notch. All the displays are beautifully curated and there are a lot of Lincoln artifacts. It is definitely a quality museum and run very professionally.
The displays are divided into galleries. “Log Walls to Marble Halls” traces Abraham Lincoln’s journey from the frontier to the national stage. “Lincoln, the Constitution, and the Civil War” examines the difficult constitutional issues President Lincoln faced. “The Last Days of Lincoln” is a new exhibition on Lincoln’s final months in office. “The LMU Story” is a look at the origins of a living memorial to Lincoln in the Tennessee mountains and how his legacy has inspired the education of generations of students. “The Dr. Carroll Rose Collection” features rare Confederate weapons and wartime medical instruments.
It took several hours to get through all the galleries. We always tease Sandy about how long she can spend in museums. I know she hurried so that the rest of us wouldn’t have to wait hours for her, but she was still the last one through. That’s okay, because there was plenty to look at and to read.
We really enjoyed our visit to the Abraham Lincoln Library and Museum on the Lincoln Memorial University campus. We would recommend the museum to anyone visiting the area. Even if you think you know a historical figure really well, there is always more to learn.