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Presentation focuses on courtship in Lincoln’s era

Published: Tuesday, June 10, 2014 5:30 a.m. CST

The presentation, “Love’s Young Dream: Courtship and Weddings in the Lincoln Era,” will take place at 1 p.m. Saturday at Sycamore History Museum, 1730 N. Main St.

For three years after moving to Springfield, Mary Todd’s suitors came courting at her sister’s home and squired her to parties, weddings, railroad excursions and informal gatherings. The culmination of these courtship activities came on Nov. 4, 1842, when 23-year-old Mary stood in a borrowed dress in her sister’s parlor and became the bride of 33-year-old Abraham Lincoln.

Drawing on period letters, diaries, etiquette manuals and reminiscences, this illustrated talk will examine the nature of courtship and weddings in Lincoln-era Springfield to establish a social and cultural context for the Lincolns’ experience. How did young people meet? What kind of social activities did courting couples engage in? What was the nature of engagements? What were typical features of weddings of the time? Exploration of the answers to these questions will result in a fuller picture of life in 19th century Springfield and a greater understanding of the Lincolns’ social world.  

The event is being produced in part by the Illinois Humanities Council’s Road Scholars Speakers Bureau, a program that provides organizations statewide with affordable, entertaining and thought-provoking humanities events for their communities.

Erika Holst will present the program. She is the curator of collections at the Springfield Art Association.

“Her talk will be a perfect complement to our exhibit, ‘General Dutton’s America,’” Michelle Donahoe, executive director of the Sycamore History Museum, said in a news release. “Dutton and his wife, Rosina, were married in 1863. This presentation will help us gain a better understanding their courtship and wedding.”

The event is free and open to all audiences. For more information, visit www.sycamorehistory.org or call 815-895-5762

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