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Abe Lincoln Presidential Library Celebrating 125th Anniversary

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year. [Earlier this year, its sister institution, the Illinois State Library (I.S.L.) began to celebrate the 175th anniversary of its establishment in 1839.] Formerly known as the Illinois State Historical Library, the name changed to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library with the opening of the new building in 2004.

The inaugural event, "Meet Jessie Palmer Weber," on April 6, 2014, is part of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library’s yearlong celebration. Ms. Gwen Podeschi, Reference Librarian, will bring Jessie to life in a living history presentation; Glenna Schroeder-Lein, Manuscripts Librarian, will provide a biographical presentation, and Eileen Mackevich, Executive Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum, will welcome guests and make brief remarks.

Kathryn Harris, Library Services Director, invites librarians and the general public to “attend and enjoy an afternoon at the Presidential Library.” The event will be held in the Library Atrium from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Mrs. Jessie Palmer Weber was Librarian at the Illinois State Historical Library from 1898 to 1926. Her appointment was suggested by Trustee George M. Black of Springfield. It was largely she who was responsible for expanding the collections, particularly with the genesis of the Lincoln Collection and the Illinois History Collection.

She was born the sixth daughter and eight child of General John McAuley Palmer (1817-1900), whose ancestor Thomas Palmer had arrived in Virginia in 1621. As a volunteer in the American Civil War, J.M. Palmer rose to the rank of major-general and served as military governor of Kentucky.

He served one term as Governor of Illinois as a Republican from 1869 to 1873 – between the first and second (of three) terms of his fellow major-general, Richard James Oglesby (1824-1899). General Palmer later served one term in the U.S. Senate from 1891 to 1897 as a Democrat.

Another ancestor, General Palmer’s grandfather, Isaac Palmer, had served in the American War of Independence. Mrs. Weber was also an aunt of Brigadier General John McAuley Palmer (1870-1955).

In 1881, she married M.W. Weber. They had one child, daughter Malinda E. Weber.

Mrs. Palmer was also one of the founders of the Illinois State Historical Society, which incorporated in 1900. She served as Secretary & Treasurer for many years, having been elected for her first term in 1903 and re-elected many times thereafter. She was a member of the American Library Association, the National Association of State Librarians, the American Historical Association, the Daughters of the American Revolution and the Authors' Club of Springfield.

In 1903, she was elected Second Vice-President of the National Association of State Librarians. She wrote An Outline for the Study of Illinois State History, which the University of Michigan Library published in 1905.

A portrait of Jessie Palmer Weber will be unveiled and a reception will follow. The public is invited to attend. If one wants to attend, RSVP online and select Special Events, or call (217) 558-8934.

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum is a division of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency rather than a facility of the National Archives and Records Administration. It is funded in part through private donations funneled through the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.

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