SED seal


For Immediate Release September 15, 2010

For More Information Contact:
Tom Dunn, Jonathan Burman or Jane Briggs at (518) 474-1201


A rare, one day only public exhibit of one of the nation’s greatest documentary treasures, a handwritten copy of President Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, will be part of a celebration commemorating the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln hosted by the New York State Library.

The manuscript copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, part of the New York State Library’s collection,  will be on display for one day on September 19th in the Carole Huxley Theater in the New York State Museum, 222 Madison Avenue, Albany, NY from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.  Admission is free.

The Lincoln celebration at the New York State Library will also feature public programs and  "Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation," a traveling exhibit, on view Monday-Friday from September 3 through October 14 at the New York State Library, that reexamines President Lincoln’s thoughts about slavery throughout his political career and the conditions which led to the Emancipation Proclamation.   The exhibit consists of reproductions of rare historical documents, period photographs, and illustrative material, such as engravings, lithographs, cartoons, and political ephemera from The Huntington’s collections and those of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, and draws on the latest scholarship in the field. Public programs are free and open to the public.  The complete Schedule of Programs is available on the New York State Library’s website:

The Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation has been part of the New York State Library’s collection since 1865, when it was purchased by the New York State Legislature following the assassination of President Lincoln. The document is the manuscript copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued on September 22, 1862, declaring that all persons held as slaves within states still in rebellion against the United States on January 1, 1863 “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”  It is written in Lincoln’s handwriting with notes by Secretary of State William Seward and portions of the printed Articles of War are pasted into the document. For more information on the Library’s manuscript copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, go to  The final Emancipation Proclamation was issued on New Year’s Day 1863.  The Chicago Historical Society acquired the manuscript copy of the final Emancipation Proclamation, but it was lost when the Society's building burned during the great Chicago fire of 1871. 

The New York State Library is one of sixty-three libraries across the nation that are hosting "Forever Free" between September 2006 and October 2011.  "Forever Free" was organized by the American Library Association (ALA) Public Programs Office (PPO) and The Huntington Library, San Marino, California, with grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission, Washington, D.C. The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, New York, provided additional support. 

A CD featuring an essay by Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer and images of the draft copy of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation and other Lincoln items in the collections of the New York State Library is available from the New York State Library.  The purchase price is $20 plus shipping and handling.  To purchase a copy, contact Aimee Pelton in Documents and Digital Collections via phone at (518) 474-7492 or email at

One of the nation’s leading research libraries, the New York State Library has served New Yorkers, state government, and researchers from throughout the United States for over 180 years.  It is the largest state library in the nation and the only one to qualify for membership in the Association of Research Libraries.  The New York State Library provides leadership and support to some 7,000 libraries and library systems throughout the state; maintains a Talking Book and Braille Library serving more than 37,000 New Yorkers; offers 24-hour access to an online catalog of more than 20 million research items; and provides New Yorkers statewide with access to state-of-the-art databases via NOVELNY, New York’s first virtual library.  The New York State Library is located in the Cultural Education Center on Madison Avenue in Albany. For information call (518) 474-5355 or go to


New York State Board of Regents
The State Education Department / The University of the State of New York / Albany, NY 12234
Office of Communications / (518) 474-1201

Last Updated: September 15, 2010