Mary Lincoln: An Annotated Bibliography Supplement

By Emerson, Jason | Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society, Fall 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Mary Lincoln: An Annotated Bibliography Supplement

Emerson, Jason, Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

In the summer 2010 issue of the JISHS I was pleased to have included my annotated bibliography of Mary Lincoln - a listing and description of more than two hundred writings, a feat never before accomplished in Lincoln studies. I explained in the introduction to that work that my bibliography was not exhaustive or definitive, but that I selected nonfiction entries (books and articles) I believed to be "necessary to read in order to fully understand - or even write a basic book on - Mary Lincoln's life." The fiction, poetry, and drama entries were as definitive as I could make them.

Compiling and annotating that bibliography was one of the most enjoyable and satisfying tasks I have ever undertaken as a historian; and since its publication I have continued to watch for additional Mary Lincoln materials unknown to me and not included in my previous work. I have subsequently found nearly three dozen additional writings that I believe merit inclusion into any bibliography - with the majority of them being from the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. There also have been some new materials on Mary published or underway since my last effort, and those (including a few works of my own) have been included as well. Additionally, I see now, thanks to some suggestions and constructive criticism from my peers in the Lincoln field that a handful of items I purposefully excluded for various reasons from my original bibliography should not have been left out. I now take the opportunity to rectify my omissions.

In this supplement to my previous work are, I believe, some of the most exciting entries in the Mary Lincoln bibliography. Some are small pieces inside a larger work, some from obscure newspapers, and some so simply rare as to explain why I missed them the first time, and how difficult it was to dig them out at all.

The entries below contain some fascinating aspects of Mary Lincoln's life commonly known, such as her domestic life in Springfield, her years as First Lady, her belief in Spiritualism, her attempts to sell her White House clothing, her mental health, and her historical legacy. There also are entries concerning those aspects of her life largely unknown or overlooked: her travels throughout Europe in the 1870s, her patriotism, her childhood and early education, the French tribute to her in 1867, and even what her granddaughter thought of her when asked in the 1880s.

All of these items, whether succinct or verbose, whether large or small, are additional pieces to the fascinating and incomplete puzzle of the historical figure of Mary Lincoln. They add further illumination to what remains a largely misunderstood and misinterpreted life of one of America's most captivating first ladies.


1. Mumler, William H. The Personal Experiences of William H. Mumler in Spirit-Photography. Colby and Rich, 1875. Mumler's memoir contains his recollection of Mary Lincoln visiting his Boston studio in 1872 to have her spirit photograph taken. The resulting image - now infamous - contained the "spirits" of Abraham and Tad Lincoln hovering over Mary's shoulders. This recollection is a retelling by Mumler of the event as he previously described and published in The Spiritual Magazine in 1872. Unlike that article, which simply related the visit, in his memoir Mumler embellishes the event to include his wife "almost instantly" going into a Spiritualist trance, being "taken over" by Tad - whom Mumler mistakenly claimed identified himself as "Thaddeus" - who then had a "long conversation" with his mother. Reprinted in Louis Kaplan, The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2008), 92-93.

2. Swisshelm, Jane Grey. Half a Century. Chicago: Jansen, McClurg & Company, 1880, 236-37. Autobiography of Swisshelm, a noted abolitionist during the Civil War, in which she recalls her first meeting with President and Mrs. Lincoln at a White House reception.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Mary Lincoln: An Annotated Bibliography Supplement


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?