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Join us at the Library for the 155th Anniversary of the Gettysburg Address

On November 19, 1863, Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. The Library of Congress will mark the 155th anniversary of this historic speech with a one-day celebration, featuring an exhibition of the earliest known draft of the speech, and a Letters to Lincoln Challenge transcribe-a-thon for volunteers on and off site!


  • 08:30am Jefferson Building doors open!
  • 10:00am Welcome remarks by Dr. Carla Hayden, 14th Librarian of Congress
  • 10:05am Special talk about the background of the Gettysburg Address by historian and curator Michelle Krowl
  • 10:15am Gettysburg Address delivered by student orator Christian Melgar
  • 10:25am Details of the Letters to Lincoln Challenge for onsite and remote participants
  • 10:30am Nicolay copy of the Gettysburg Address unveiled
  • 10:35am Letters to Lincoln Challenge transcribe-a-thon begins
  • 10:35am-1:30pm Letters to Lincoln Challenge Transcribe-a-thon
  • 4:30pm Jefferson Building doors close for the day

In the area on November 19th?

Join us in the Great Hall of the Jefferson Building (Library of Congress) to have the rare opportunity to see the Nicolay copy of the Gettysburg Address in person. Dr. Hayden will kick things off at 10am, followed by a reading of the Address by a student orator, and a special talk about Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, by historian and curator Michelle Krowl. After the Gettysburg Address is revealed at 10:30 various hands on transcription and learning opportunities will be available.

Off site but online?

We’ll livestream the Librarian and curator’s talks, and the reading of the Gettysburg address from 10:00-10:30 via this link. After that people at the Library and online can participate in the #LettersToLincoln challenge right here on! Choose an item from the Letters to Lincoln Campaign to transcribe, review, and/or tag. So far we've made material from the 1830s through 1850s available, but for our transcribe-a-thon we'll release materials from 1860, 1861, and 1862, spanning part of the Civil War and important moments in Lincoln's career and the history of the nation. Join in the discussion on History Hub and Twitter!

You can check in live with a Community Manager on History Hub throughout the transcribe-a-thon from 10:30am to 1:30pm EST.

Opportunities for students near and far

Tune in at 10:00am for the livestream or join us in person to see the Gettysburg address, hear talks, and do some hands on activities and online transcriptions. Students onsite or in their own classrooms will be invited to transcribe, tag, and review documents received by Abraham Lincoln throughout his career. You can transcribe as a group or challenge your students to transcribe on their own or in pairs. All transcriptions are reviewed by at least one other volunteer, so don't be shy to try! If you or your students are finding it hard to read something, try finding something to review first. This is a great way to "get your eye in" and learn from others how to read these original documents.

To confirm participation for your class or students, please e-mail the Community Managers at [email protected] for further instructions. Visit History Hub for your transcribe-a-thon pack including details on how to take part.

Letters to Lincoln Challenge

Cover of yellow envelope with drawn portrait of Lincoln in the top left corner and a depiction of Lincoln chopping wood in the middle

Help us transcribe 10,000+ items from the Abraham Lincoln Papers by the end of 2018!

A grand challenge: why we're asking you to join us

Around half of the digitized Abraham Lincoln Papers, primarily materials written by Lincoln, have been transcribed by other volunteers at Knox College and elsewhere, and are already keyword searchable at However, there remain 10,000+ items including letters and other materials sent to him that are not yet keyword searchable. Completing the Letters to Lincoln Challenge will make all of the digital Lincoln Papers word-searchable and accessible to future readers. Just imagine the possibilities--from new research to local connections--that will be possible once we've achieved this goal. Thank you in advance for sharing your time with us. Your Community Managers, reference librarians and curatorial staff here at the Library of Congress will be cheering you on with bonus historical context and resources all along the way, as well as some special rewards for goals met!

So, what’s the challenge? Our first milestone was completion of all the material in the first three Campaign projects: "1830-1839, first forays in politics and law," "1840-1849, marriage, election to Congress," and "1850-1857: death and birth of children, and re-entry to politics" by November 1st. Our next updated challenge to you is to transcribe and review all 646 pages in the "1858-1859 Presidential Nomination" project by midnight on November 6th, election day!

Can you transcribe even just one letter and share the challenge with one friend to help push toward our goal? When the project completes we’ll move onto the next exciting decade of Lincoln's life, the 1850s when he returned to politics.

What are the Letters to Lincoln?

You might guess that the Abraham Lincoln Papers include materials written in his own hand, but did you know the collection contains correspondence sent to Abraham Lincoln throughout his life and political career? Here's a taste of what you'll find: a range of materials by writers ranging from friends and associates from Lincoln’s Springfield days, well-known political figures and reformers, constituents writing to their President, and even the occasional document in Lincoln's own hand. Read the concerns and requests of nineteenth-century Americans and international correspondents.

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