Face-to-Face: Mary Todd Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln portrait

About the Project

As part of the National Portrait Gallery's education program "Face-to-Face," Erin Carlson Mast, curator at Lincoln's Cottage, discusses Mary Todd Lincoln. It is difficult to know the character of the Lincolns' relationship. When Lincoln wed Mary Todd in 1842, he married into a well-established Illinois family. Mary was strong-willed, capricious, and adamant. When she eventually showed signs of derangement, her instability colored discussions of her earlier years. Both of Lincoln's secretaries hated her and gained their revenge in their memoirs of the White House years. But from the best evidence, Lincoln was patient with a woman who could be difficult, not least because she suffered terribly at the death of their sons. After Willie died in 1862, she became increasingly fearful and detached, worrying about Lincoln himself, consulting spiritualists, and spending time away from Washington. This small sketch by Pierre Morand, circa 1864, seems to show her departing on such a trip, and the artist has juxtaposed the figures to suggest a gap or tension between them that will never be fully known. The sketch of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln is displayed on the museum's first floor, in the exhibition "One Life: The Mask of Lincoln." See the online exhibition at: http://www.npg.si.edu/exhibit/lincoln . Recorded at NPG, March 26, 2009. Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln, c. 1864 / Pierre Morand / Ink and opaque white gouache on paper / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. Face-to-Face talk currently located on the National Portrait Gallery's iTunesU page. ["Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln" by Pierre Morand. NPG.75.28]

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(4 out of 5)

Level 1 --- BEGINNER

Content: all typed
Language: English
Format: letters, diaries, flyers, pamphlets, and one-page documents
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required

Level 2

Content: mostly typed, handwritten in print, or otherwise very clearly written/readable
Language: English
Format: memorabilia, advertisements, image captions, telegrams, diaries, letters, notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: none required


Content: typed and handwritten materials in cursive or print
Language: English
Format: newspaper clippings, scrapbooks, letters/diaries/notes that may include annotations or margin notes
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: experience reading cursive writing may be useful

Level 4

Content: handwritten materials, primarily in cursive or somewhat difficult to read (predominantly from the 19th and 20th centuries) , audio recordings that are relatively easy to hear/decipher, and scientific materials
Language: English and/or other languages that use Roman script but may require the use of diacritics (French, Spanish, German, Italian, etc.)
Format: audio recordings, letters, diaries, notes and other written materials, projects with templated fields and special instructions
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: some knowledge of non-English Roman-character/script languages and diacritics may be useful, as well as experience reading cursive handwriting. A general knowledge or familiarity with scientific terminology.

Level 5 --- ADVANCED

Content: handwritten materials in cursive (from the 19th century or earlier) or in a non-Roman script language, audio recordings that are difficult to hear or are not in English, specialty materials/projects such as numismatics projects and the Project Phaedra notebooks 
Language: foreign languages that use non-Roman characters (Chinese, Japanese, Arabic, Greek/Cyrillic, Native American and Indigenous languages, etc.) and English 
Format: audio recordings, columned data/tables, manuscripts, letters, diaries, notes, currency sheets, coins
Subject Area Expertise/Special Skills: knowledge of a specific language and access to a keyboard with the characters in that language may be required for certain projects. Experience reading cursive handwriting and familiarity with 19th century (or prior) handwriting and conventions/abbreviations may be useful, as well as knowledge of scientific terminology, astrophysics data, or linguistics.

Project Progress (details)
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