This collection includes both an album of the photographs used in Frederick Hill Meserve and Carl Sandburg's The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln (1944) and a selection of prints of Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and others given by Meserve to Harry E. Pratt.
Frederick Hill Meserve (1865-1962) began collecting photographs from the Civil War era in 1897. Meserve began by gathering photographs to be included alongside transcriptions of his father's Civil War diaries. After he started finding Lincoln photographs, Meserve set a goal to collect and catalog as many Lincoln photographs as possible. He estimated his collection to be over 200,000 items by 1944. At that time the collection spanned the 1840s through early 1900s and included over a hundred photographs of Abraham Lincoln. Poet and author Carl Sandburg (1878-1967) also had a strong interest in Abraham Lincoln and published series of biographical works on Lincoln between 1926 and 1939. Harry E. Pratt (1901-1956) was a Lincoln and Illinois history scholar who served as the Executive Secretary of the Abraham Lincoln Association from 1936-1943 and the Illinois State Historian and Director of the Illinois State Historical Library from 1950-1956.
The album was compiled in conjunction with Frederick Hill Meserve and Carl Sandburg's The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln, published by Harcourt, Brace and Company in 1944. Pasted into the album are prints, numbered 1-108 of the Lincoln photographs as published. Below each print is the number, type of image, place and/or photographer, and date, e.g.: "No. 5 / Ambrotype / Anschuler [Alschuler] / Urbana / 1857." The notations are written in white ink on the black pages of the album.
The group of prints was given to Harry E. Pratt by Meserve in 1951. The set consists of 9 small prints, each inserted into a folded paper cover with a caption. It includes photographs of Edward D. Baker, Stephen A. Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, John A. McClernand, John A. Richardson, James Shields, John Wentworth, and also two photographs of Lyman Trumbull. The prints measure approximately 3 1/4" x 2 1/4" and were apparently printed directly from the original negatives. There is also a somewhat larger print of Douglas which Meserve presented to Pratt in 1941, also printed directly from the original negative.
The Library purchased the album in 1997 from Chuck Hand, a Lincoln dealer. Prior to that, it had been owned by Ralph G. Newman of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop. The Library likely acquired the group of prints from the estate of Harry E. Pratt's widow, Marion Bonzi Pratt, after her death in 1963.