Herbert Wells Fay (1859-1949), born in Squaw Grove Township, DeKalb County, Illinois, was a collector of historical portraits and, in later years, custodian of the Lincoln Tomb, Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois.
For much of his adult life Fay was a newspaper man, first as the part-owner of the Hinckley (Illinois) Review, and starting in 1884 as the co-owner of the DeKalb Review. In DeKalb, Fay was also county surveyor and a member of the DeKalb board of education.
In 1869, Fay began a collection of historical portraits, mostly of famous international figures, including Lincoln and other presidents; U.S. senators, representatives and Supreme Court justices; European royalty; and notable authors and artists. Fay used his collection to illustrate the National Cyclopedia of American Biography, of which he was associate editor.
This collection includes a small sample of Fay's photograph collection (the bulk of which is held at Northern Illinois University, DeKalb), but mostly consists of Lincoln ephemera: birthday celebration programs, drawings by Fay, Lincoln Tomb brochures and postcards, and publications and clippings related to the Lincoln family.
Materials in the collection, kept by H. W. Fay's son Earl, were donated to the Library in 2010 by Vincent Golden, Worcester, Mass. The Library acquired additional materials from an unknown source, which were added to the collection circa 2015. These materials are listed in the inventory appendix.