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Lincoln papers, presidential library in critical condition

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The Papers of Abraham Lincoln Project, which aims to digitize every document written by or read by the Great Emancipator, is in an existential crisis, the project’s director Thursday told an advisory board to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, where the project is headquartered.

On orders from the governor’s office, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency that sponsors the project has refused to renew a contract with the University of Illinois Springfield that last year provided $243,000 in state money to pay employees. Except for Daniel Stowell, the project’s director, the project’s employees are university employees, but salaries come largely from the state as well as federal grants that require matching funds and private gifts.

In the past, matching money to obtain federal grants has come from the state, Stowell told the advisory board. Without state money, Stowell told the board that as much as $200,000 per year in federal grants could be lost for the project that began in the 1980s.

For now, employees remain on the job, Stowell said, with salaries coming from a UIS private foundation account that is rapidly being depleted. 

“Ultimately, it (the lack of state money) means that there will be layoffs and there would likely be rolling layoffs to the point that I would be the staff of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, alone,” Stowell said at the board meeting held at the James R. Thompson Center in Chicago.

Read entire article at illinoistimes.com


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