Chicago's Abraham Lincoln Book Shop

On September 29, I was a guest on Author's Voice, a webcast/book-signing event produced by the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago. What a great experience!


The "shop" opened in 1938. It is now owned by Dan Weinberg, located in a nondescript office building a few blocks west of the Chicago River. No storefront, except for a small logo you would not know what is inside: a warren of rooms in an antiquarian/collection/library wonderland. Original documents, book first editions, illustrations, pamphlets, and more take up the shelves and racks--many but not all connected with the Civil War. Mention a name, place, or event, and you will be shown a relevant item in the inventory. Not sure the system, but they seemed to seamlessly find each treasure.

In the early 1940s, when the shop was in a different location, a number of Civil War followers, including Carl Sandburg, began meeting on Mondays. So for all members of Civil War Roundtables, including the one that I belong to in Washington, please check out the original "round table," which is used as a work space.

With Bjorn Skaptason at "The" Roundtable at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, forerunner to all Civil War Roundtable groups.

With Bjorn Skaptason at "The" Roundtable at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, forerunner to all Civil War Roundtable groups.

After receiving an invitation to appear on the program, I emailed a few times with Bjorn Skaptason, the executive producer of the program, and watched previous segments. I spent (too much?) time figuring out what to bring to Chicago to wear and worrying if I would pass muster compared with the many esteemed (and more famous) authors whom he and Dan have interviewed.

But, we all do love talking about our subjects, don't we? I had a great time and would probably still be yakking except that it was time for a wrap.

The City Beyond

Although Abraham Lincoln did not live in Chicago, the city clearly launched him and changed our nation's history. Lincoln came up to the city to work or on political business in the 1840s and 1850s, and sought to represent the state in the Senate in 1856. The 1860 convention held in downtown Chicago was convenient for his many supporters to round up support for their man, while Lincoln stayed away (the custom for would-be nominees at the time, lest they appear too anxious(. Men went to war from the city; women had one of the most active Sanitary Commission groups in the country. According to one account, Lincoln agreed to provide a draft Emancipation Proclamation to sell at one of the commission's fund-raisers; it was housed in the Chicago Historical Society until it burned in the fire of 1871. Too bad, because maybe it would have found its way to the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.