- Abraham and Mary (page 2 of 2)

- Abraham and Mary (page 2 of 2)

Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life

Gift of Lincoln Isham, great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln, 1958

Mary’s Purse

Mary Lincoln’s gold evening purse, 1863. Her name and the year were engraved inside the ring.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Hay and Nicolay

The president’s private secretaries, John Hay (right) and John George Nicolay (left), began to work for Lincoln in Springfield during the presidential campaign. They remained trusted aides and confidants throughout his presidency. Nicolay and Hay moved into the White House with the Lincoln family. Both men became devoted admirers and fondly referred to the president as “the Tycoon.”

Courtesy of the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University

Elizabeth Keckly

Elizabeth Keckly (often spelled Keckley) was born into slavery in Dinwiddie County, Virginia. An accomplished dressmaker, she earned enough money to buy her freedom and her son’s. In 1861 Keckly was living in Washington, D.C., when she was introduced to Mary Lincoln.

Keckly became Mary’s principal dressmaker, a trusted confidant, and an intimate friend. It was a close, complicated, unequal relationship—the women were drawn together by genuine affection and divided by class and race.

Gift of Lincoln Isham, great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln, 1958

Tad’s Watch

Tad Lincoln’s Swiss gold watch from Tiffany and Sons of New York, mid-1860s.

Gift of Mrs. John Hay, 1912


Crystal and silver inkwell inscribed: “This inkstand was used by Abraham Lincoln during his presidency. John Hay.”

Gift of Captain George Van Deurs, USN, grandson of Reverend George Van Deurs, 1949

A Keepsake from the Lincolns

Elizabeth Keckly asked Mary Lincoln for keepsakes from the president and received several items, including this inkwell. In 1874 she presented it to Rev. George Van Deurs, her minister at the Fifteenth Street Presbyterian Church in Washington.