In November 2000, HRA Gray & Pape, LLC, contracted with the National Park Service, Midwest Regional Office, to prepare a Historic Resources Study of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in Spencer County, Indiana (Contract No. P6300000125). In 1962, the National Park Service designated the Lincoln Boyhood site a National Memorial to preserve the family and boyhood home setting of Abraham Lincoln and the grave site of his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln. The Lincoln family lived on the Thomas Lincoln farm from 1816 until February 1830, when they moved to Illinois. The memorial site includes a visitor center, park housing complex, memorial and designed historic landscape, walking trails, living history farm, a burial area, and wayside exhibits. Park administrative offices are housed in the visitor center. The site was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1966 and was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.
This report is derived from research in primary and secondary records related to environmental history, Native American use and occupation, exploration, land use, settlement patterns, and commemoration of the lives of Abraham Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. It utilizes both documentary research and field observations to determine and describe the integrity, authenticity, associative values, and significance of resources within the memorial site, as well as to highlight areas for future interpretive development. The study will serve as the foundation for future cultural resource assessments and management plans. The historic context defines themes of area history; establishes a relationship between events and the built environment; identifies time frames and periods of significance for historic contexts; and identifies links between national, regional, and local events.
The Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial is historically significant for its association with the early life of Abraham Lincoln and as the final resting place of Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Furthermore, the property retains a high level of integrity with regard to its historic landscape design, and the Memorial Building is an important contributing element to the property's architectural significance. Finally, the property is significant for its association with the development of historic preservation theory over the course of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It began as a shrine to Nancy Hanks Lincoln and, by extension, the cult of motherhood that characterized the Victorian era. During the 1930s, the memorial was transformed to commemorate Lincoln and his lifetime of accomplishments. Thirty years later, the site's programs were expanded to include a parallel interpretive theme with the construction of the Living History Farm. The influences of each interpretive theme are clearly visible upon the extant cultural landscape and contribute to our understanding of the constantly evolving cultural and social phenomena of memorializing important personages in American history.
Last Updated: 19-Jan-2003