Forever Free in Ohio

period clothing from the Ohio State University Historic Textiles and Costumes on loan for the State Library of Ohio’s Forever Free exhibition

The State Library of Ohio had its opening program and reception for the Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Emancipation traveling exhibition on March 9, 2011. The event featured music by the Fort Hayes High School string quartet, remarks by State Representative of Ohio Mark Okey, Lincoln impersonator Robert Brugler, recognition of the winners of the Columbus College of Art & Design Forever Free Emancipation Poster contest, and The Ohio State University Professor Hasan Kwame Jeffries speaking on Making Freedom: African Americans, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. More than one hundred people attended the event, including several legislators, community members, librarians, students, and staff and directors from various state agencies and organizations.

I have been extremely fortunate to have a display committee composed of librarians and staff representing all departments at the State Library working on the planning and implementation of the exhibit. Every member has assumed responsibility for specific aspects of the exhibit, including developing partnerships, scheduling tours and presenters, creating supplemental exhibits, listing books and web resources, creating invitations, developing publicity, and more. We have been meeting every two weeks for months, and although not every idea came to fruition, most of our plans have turned out better than expected.

In addition to the traveling exhibit panels, we have some items from our collection and various items, artifacts, and documents from the Ohio Historical Society; Historic Costumes & Textiles Collection in The Ohio State University College of Education and Human Ecology and the OSU Libraries; Kelton House; Ohioana; Ohio State University Libraries Rare Books collection; local historian and retired attorney Phil Stichter; and the Columbus College of Art and Design students’ Forever Free Emancipation posters. You can see some of the items on our Forever Free website.

We were delighted to have a local television station morning program broadcast live several segments about the exhibit and State Library this week. During the broadcast we had K–3 students from a local school sing a rap about Abraham Lincoln. After the broadcast we provided the students with a tour of the exhibit and presentation by Lincoln impersonator Robert Bruglar.

The next big event for the exhibit will be a Lincoln & Ohio presentation from 7–8:30 p.m. on March 22, 2011, at the State Library of Ohio. Philip W. Stichter will present Ohio’s role in debates and Lincoln’s election. Diana Mercer, MLS, will present the connection between former State Librarian William Turner Coggeshall and Abraham Lincoln.

We also have several other groups scheduled to tour as well as state of Ohio employees viewing the exhibit each day during meetings held at the State Library. Forever Free will be on exhibit at the State Library through April 15, 2011.