Happy President’s Day!
One of the earliest collections that came to Special Collections and Archives is MS-7, the Lester L. Cecil Lincoln Collection. Donated to Wright State University in April 1969 by Judge Lester L. Cecil, U.S. District Court of Appeals, Dayton, Ohio, the collection reflects Judge Cecil’s life-long admiration of President Lincoln and contains many years worth of his collection of materials about President Lincoln.
But who was Judge Cecil? Lester L. Cecil was born on November 21, 1893, in Miami County, Ohio. His family had strong roots in the area and are listed among the earliest settlers to the region. He received his law degree in 1917 from University of Michigan Law School and began practicing law in Dayton. Judge Cecil served in the United States Army during World War I and then returned to Dayton to resume his law career. In April 1953, he was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio and was appointed to the United States Court of Appeals Sixth District in 1959 where he later became the Chief Justice of this court where he served until 1963. Judge Cecil was an active member of his community and was involved in many organizations including the Sons of the American Revolution, until his death in 1982. Throughout his life, he collected and researched material concerning President Abraham Lincoln, and it is those materials that make up the collection here in the Wright State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives.
The collection contains pamphlets and clippings concerning Lincoln and his administration and letters from members of Lincoln’s cabinet including William Seward and Gideon Welles. It also includes lithographs and reprints of photographs. There are two original land patents signed by Lincoln and a certificate signed by John Hay. The collection also has issues of the Lincoln Herald and issues of Lincoln Lore. There are also several autographs of Lincoln’s contemporaries, including Frederick Douglass.
In addition to these materials there are over two hundred books concerning Lincoln and his administration. These materials can be located through the University Libraries catalog and are located within the archives.