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Friends of Lincoln Collection raises $6.9M to care for artifacts

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A group formed to support a prized collection of Abraham Lincoln artifacts has raised $6.9 million in its first six months.

The Friends of the Lincoln Collection in Indiana announced its fund-raising milestone Wednesday afternoon. The amount raised so far includes a $3 million grant from the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment. The group's fund-raising goal is $12.5 million.

The money will pay for the care and exhibition of the collection, which includes rare signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery.

Highlights from the collection go on display at the Indiana State Museum on Feb. 12 and continue through July 25. (A second Lincoln exhibit from the Library of Congress called "With Malice Toward None" also opens Feb. 12 and runs through April 11 at the State Museum.)

Lincoln National Corp. began collecting Lincoln artifacts in 1928, when it was based in Fort Wayne. The company's headquarters moved to suburban Philadelphia in 1999. The collection is valued at $20 million today.

A year ago, a consortium of Indiana organizations was chosen to take over the collection. The consortium was led by the Indiana State Museum and Allen County Public Library, which has the documents and photographs available for in-person research. The collection eventually will be digitized for online use.

"There's no doubt that Abraham Lincoln holds a special place in the hearts of Hoosiers," said Ian Rolland, co-chairman of the Friends' fund-raising committee and retired CEO of Lincoln National.

The Friends group has raised money from individuals as well as several organizations, including AEP/Indiana & Michigan Electric, the English-Bonter-Mitchell Foundation, NiSource, the Dekko Foundation, the Indiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Indiana State Library, City of Fort Wayne, Parkview Foundation, McMillen Foundation, Wilson Foundation, Journal Gazette Foundation, Cole Foundation, Raker Foundation, Schneider Foundation, Auer Foundation, Steel Dynamics, Duke Energy, Old National Bank, Vectren and the Leona Group Foundation.

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