April 14, 2015, will mark the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theatre. Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. at the Petersen House, just across the street from the theatre, on April 15, 1865. In that moment, a nation lost a leader whose life and legacy changed the country forever.
Today, the Ford’s Theatre campus is a living memorial to Lincoln’s legacy. We have already begun our Ford’s 150 series of commemorative events, which run now through late May 2015. We’ll have Lincoln scholars, living historians, theatre and a special exhibition to honor our 16th President here in Washington, D.C. But whether or not you can travel to participate in the commemorative events, we’re offering a number of ways you can help us honor Lincoln in your community this spring. Here’s a preview of the initiatives coming from Ford’s Theatre, and how you can get involved.
1. On Lincoln’s Birthday: Ask Us a Lincoln Question
This week, Lincoln fans on the Ford’s Theatre staff will be on-hand to answer questions about Lincoln, the Civil War or the history of Ford’s Theatre. Just tweet your question to us using the hashtag #LincolnQ any time between now and 6 p.m. Friday, February 13, and we will respond. If you have a burning question but no Twitter account, never fear! Just ask us your question in the comments below.
2. Before February 28: Share Why Lincoln Matters
We’re asking scholars, artists and you: Why does Lincoln remain relevant to our society today? Fill out our webform to let us know your thoughts. We’re collecting responses now through February 28. After February 28, we will share our favorite comments in our publications and on the web, through venues like the Ford’s Theatre blog, website and social media.
3. In March: Learn How 1865 Mourners Remembered Lincoln
Learn what it felt like to lose a president from the people who experienced the country’s first presidential assassination. Since October 2013, Ford’s has worked with many generous institutions and individuals to digitize letters, diaries, newspapers, sermons, mourning ribbons and other artifacts that capture people’s responses to the Lincoln assassination. On March 18, we will launch the website Remembering Lincoln: A Digital Collection of Responses to His Assassination, where all of the submissions we’ve collected so far will be available for everyone to see, no matter where they are. The website will also include maps of the artifacts, a timeline of the assassination, stories of people with poignant responses and modules for teachers who want to use this site in the classroom. Until then, you can read blog posts about our process and some of the highlights of the digital collection, and preview collection items on HistoryPin and Pinterest. If you know of an artifact we should include, we’d love to hear more!
4. Starting March 4: Follow the Events of 1865 on Twitter
What was it like to live through the warfare, triumph and tragedy of 1865? From Lincoln’s second inaugural on March 4 through Lincoln’s burial in Springfield, Illinois, on May 4, the Ford’s Theatre Twitter account will chronicle the events of 1865 on the days that they happened, 150 years later. We will explore not only Lincoln’s actions during his final days but how figures across Washington—and across the country—participated in the end of the war.
5. In March and April: “Donate” Your Profile Photo
This March and April we ask that you share your love of Abraham Lincoln by “donating” your social media profile icons on Facebook and Twitter. You can find images that mark 150 years since Lincoln’s assassination that can be used as your profile icon and as cover photos and twitter backgrounds on our website.
6. On March 26: Take a Virtual Field Trip
See Ford’s Theatre on a virtual field trip, no matter where you live. Ford’s Theatre is partnering with Discovery Education to offer an engaging and lively discussion that will give students—and learners of all ages—an exclusive opportunity to tour the historic site, explore the leadership and legacy of Abraham Lincoln, and learn the story of the president’s assassination and its impact on American history. The virtual trip will take place live on March 26, 2015, and the recording will be available 24 hours a day beginning April 13.For those unable to participate in the live webcast, Ford’s staff will be on hand with a second chance to ask your questions during a live chat on April 14. Click here to register and learn more.
7. On April 15: Toll Your Bells
After Lincoln’s death on April 15, 1865, the churches in the city of Washington tolled their bells in remembrance of the man who fought to save the union and who would never see the fruits of his labor. We are inviting places of worship, schools, organizations and individuals to toll their bells at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time on Wednesday, April 15, 2015, to mark this occasion. Those facilities that do not have bells to toll could consider ringing handbells or observing a moment of silence at 8 a.m. (in their own time zone). Whatever the form, we encourage you to reach out to your local organizations and ask that they take a moment to reflect on the loss of President Lincoln and the effect it had on our country. If you would like to officially register your organization as a participant in this commemoration, or if you would like to receive more details, please email Ford’s Theatre at RSVP150@fords.org with the subject line “150 Bell Tolling.”
8. Before April 30: Take the 1865 Anniversary Challenge
The Morris & Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation has stepped up in this milestone year, and will match new and increased donations to Ford’s Theatre Society made by April 30, 2015. Your donation can be matched dollar for dollar! That means your money will go twice as far to keep Ford’s Theatre accessible for generations to come. Donate online here.
How are you planning to remember Abe this spring? Let us know in the comments!