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Title:Biographies about Abraham Lincoln for children (1865-1969): Portrayals of his parents
Author(s):Miller, Carolyn Pishny
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Richardson, Selma K.
Department / Program:Education
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Education, Language and Literature
History, United States
Abstract:Publications related to Abraham Lincoln have been abundant, and such writings have been analyzed in numerous historiographical essays. One area of Lincoln literature that has received little attention from scholars, however, is that portion intended for children. Yet these writings must be considered as having been very important in the evolving public image of Lincoln.
This study is an examination of portions of seventeen of the more significant books about Lincoln written for children between 1863 and 1969. Within a framework of five historical periods, the books were examined from literary and historical perspectives, and biographical information about the authors was provided. Specifically, the portrayals of each of Lincoln's parents (Thomas Lincoln, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln) were studied, as well as the way parenting in general and the relationship of each of his parents with Abraham and their perceived influence on him was shown. The factualness, or lack of it, was of less interest than was determining just what children were told about Lincoln's parents and hence his childhood.
The study showed how the backgrounds of the authors influenced the views provided in their biographies of Lincoln. A genuinely close connection or intimacy between author and subject, such as typically found in adult Lincoln biographies, seemed less important here than did providing a subject for adulation and a model for emulation and inspiration to young readers, as well as a means for instructing them. It also became obvious that Lincoln's parents were an important part of children's books about him. Much was told about their relationships with Abraham and, although explicitly stated influences were infrequently found, much could be implied because of both the amount of material found about his childhood and the many details provided. The study contributes to knowledge of children's biography, American history, folklore, and Lincoln literature. It provides evidence that writings on Lincoln for children, theretofore relatively untouched, are a rich source of material for Lincoln scholars.
Issue Date:1990
Rights Information:Copyright 1990 Miller, Carolyn Pishny
Date Available in IDEALS:2011-05-07
Identifier in Online Catalog:AAI9114347
OCLC Identifier:(UMI)AAI9114347

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