David Herbert Donald 
Speed Manuscripts Attract Lincoln Scholar

By Jennifer Reiss
Public Relations Assistant

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David Herbert Donald, Lincoln biographer and perhaps the foremost Lincoln scholar, visited The Filson Historical Society in October to use its resources for examining this unique relationship for his next book. Twice awarded the Pulitzer Prize for biography, Donald is currently working on a publication about Lincoln and his close friends, a meditation on the meaning of friendship in the lives of public figures. His project analyzes Lincoln's special friendships with five or six persons.

The personal lives of Speed and Lincoln intertwined while they were roommates in Springfield, sharing a room above a general store. Their meetings became infrequent when they parted ways later. The president eventually offered Speed a position with the government, but Speed declined because of his commitment to his business in Kentucky. 

The Warren Professor of American History emeritus at Harvard University, Donald is the author of numerous books, many of them about the Civil War era. His book Lincoln was on the New York Times bestseller list for 14 weeks and won numerous awards. He was also the principal historical advisor and commentator for the 1992 documentary series Lincoln.

Donald had previously visited The Filson fifty years ago and knew of the resources available. His current research led him back to The Filson to study our Speed manuscripts. Commenting on his research at The Filson, Donald "[found] a great deal that was interesting to me. This is indeed a marvelous place. And everybody is so nice, that's the wonderful part about it."

Volume 3, Number 4

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