tv [untitled] February 12, 2012 10:00pm-10:30pm EST
wearing a black great coat made especially for his second inaugural by brooks brothers. the coat is cared for by the national park service and periodically displayed in the ford's theater museum lobby. american history tv documented the process of removing a replica coat and placing the original coat on display for the public and learned how the artifact is preserved for future generations.
>> as you can see, this is the box that holds the great coat. we are just about ready to put it in its special display case. we have a special storage area that we keep the great coat for half the year. we have it on display in february through the summer. so we put it up right around the time of lincoln's birthday, which is this saturday, the 12th. then we have it up during our busiest season, the spring season. that's also the time of april when the assassination anniversary comes around. the cherry blossom festival. so it's the busiest season of the year and it stays through the summer. stays just about six months and then we put it back into protective storage.
>> when the great coat of abraham lincoln is not on exhibit at the ford's theater, it's housed here. the coat is fragile so it only goes on exhibit for a stretch of time. it goes six month on exhibit, six month off exhibit so it essentially can rest. the resting place for the coat when it's relaxing is here at the resource center. we have a specially designed box for the coat so the fabrics can rest and the coat can be preserved longer. there is a variety of collections associated with him and his collecting of objects associated with the assassination of lincoln. this particular object is in a case that was reported to have been played on the evening of
the assassination in the play. "our american cousin." in a sealed case, it actually has a humidifier control in the case itself. so it's an environment within the environment. even though the facility itself has constant environmental controls, this is an environment within the environment. >> so i see one that says presidential box flags? funeral train? you don't necessarily have to open, but i just wondered, these are all from that one person's collection? >> right. we store all our material in what are called acid free boxes. these are ph balanced paper. we purchase them from a company in fredericksburg, virginia. you take off the box lid. inside the box you'll see an inventory of the objects that are in this box. and you'll see that the artifacts have been individually wrapped in -- in a very stable material. this is a -- the white is a
tissue paper, an inert paper. and you have a plastic bubble-type wrap to preserve and protect the object. this is the acronym for ford's theater. foth. this is the catalog number. so a researcher, if they were looking for a particular type of object, we could search through the catalog number or for the object name in the database. these are all -- these sets of tiers are associated with ford's theater. the vast majority of material from ford's theater is on exhibit at the ford theater. we have a number of loans that are out right now. we have a loan in st. petersburg at the herm taj in russia of material from the ford's theater associated with a czar who was -- who the linkage is that this czar is the same as the czar that freed the serfs roughly the same time as lincoln
freed the slaves. so the russians wanted to create an exhibit that linked lincoln to their czar. >> so the great coat itself is in this larger box. however the condition the coat is in right now, the left sleeve is detached from it. and so the smaller box holds that sleeve. soon after the assassination, you had relic hunters and souvenir hunters who immediately wanted pieces of it. people immediately were trying to cut off tiny pieces of it. its owner, alphonso dunn, was cutting off pieces himself and giving them to people so that when the park service received it in 1968, it was already in, unfortunately, very, very delicate condition. so we've found this approach helps so that we can preserve
it. that's our priority, preserve it for the present and future generations. at the same time we do want to make sure that people actually fw get to see it and enjoy it and by having it up in spring we make sure the maximum amount of people can do that. >> what we're doing now is checking for any particulates. we're removing the particcue lats before we install it in the installment case. >> what do you mean by particulates? >> dust. >> oh. >> so what we see there is our hvac system. this is what maintains proper humidity and temperature levels. this is self-contained in the display unit itself. our first step is to remove the replica item. you can see that when the original great coat is not in the case, we do have a replica coat. replica boots.
replica top hat. and we do not have the original boots or the original hat. what we are putting in there today is the great coat itself. that is the most important item. here you can see we are preparing the case. >> kimberly? >> yes, ma'am. >> take one of these and go along the edges here. >> we are making sure that the case has no particulates. >> i think that's how we wrote
it. >> where does that guy go? >> this goes in first. then this mount attaches to that. >> yes, to it. all right. >> all right. >> okay. >> all right. >> now you can see we are placing the mount inside of the display case. it is a specially built mount. and considering its condition with the detached shoulder. now see we are removing the lid to the specially made box. and there is protective tissue paper lining. and we are moving that tissue paper. and revealing the famous great
coat. as you can see, the left arm is detached from the coat. it is in a separate box. and if you look closely, there are some small but visible bloodstains from the night that lincoln was assassinated in this very theater on april 4th, 1865. it is a wool great coat. it's custom made by the brooks brothers for lincoln's second inaugural in march 1865. silk lining. a very special coat. lincoln loved this coat very much. wore it various special occasions, including his night out to the theater.
>> how does this guy work in the back here? >> this inseam. does this collar go around this cushion? >> yeah. i'm pretty sure. >> now, it's draping over the cushion. >> i think it needs to be a little higher. >> like this? >> you've got the inside kind of folded. >> so like this. >> can you get the whole shoulder over in there and then scoot it. >> yeah.
yeah, yeah, yeah. >> yeah. what's the tension on that? is that right? >> okay. are we sure about this guy right here? >> i'm pretty sure. >> adjust the collar. >> that shoulder is -- it's weak. but it's still heavier than the other side. >> there we go. >> does that feel better up there? >> if there's some way that we can -- >> this needs to go over a little bit? maybe this goes down. because there's a sleeve up here. >> no. >> is that first pin, is that taut? >> yeah. >> yeah. how does it feel? i'm just concerned if you move that down, you're really going to pull it back. do you want to just try it just
quickly? >> unhook this? >> i think it looks good. >> you think it looks good? >> if you feel good about the collar, it looks -- >> i think it's laying how it's supposed to be. >> it is. >> we're not going to worry about this, then? >> i'm not going to worry about it. >> also flatten that little middle piece. the mounts there. the tissue paper. >> there we go. >> up here? more tissue? can you see the tissue from any angle? >> no. >> it looks good. >> it's all right? >> yeah.
>> now you can see we are uncovering the second box. this is the one that has the detached left sleeve. detached as a result of the many relic hunters from the late 1800s. this sleeve is on its own mount. it's being placed separately in the display next to the great coat that it was once attached to. this is the way the park service received the sleeve and coat. in 1968.
there's this silk stitching. this was custom made for lincoln, and there's the stitching of an eagle. inside the eagle's mouth, there's a banner that says "one country, one destiny." which is the infamous motto that guided our country through four years of war. and lincoln had that motto with him on his last night at ford's theater. in the past century as lincoln's legacy has grown, as we've come to appreciate who this man was, this coat took on a very special symbolism. part of that being the "one country, one destiny" logo.
this is the logo lincoln lived with for four years and guided our country through war and had it with him on the night he was shot here. for that and many, many reasons it is a very, very special coat. that is why we have taken every single precaution to make sure that we preserve it for both present and future generations. >> do you see any fingerprints or are we good? >> i'm not seeing any on this side. >> there's a couple above you. >> i think you're going to have to -- we're actually going to have to lock it first. >> okay. >> see anymore?
>> we're going to do -- we'll get a shot here. a little happy shot. okay. come on. turn. turn. got it. corporate a little bit here. there we go. thank you. you guys better get closer so we can see you. >> everybody say lincoln! >> lincoln! >> good. >> very good. yay! >> okay. >> that was a nice idea. when visitors first enter our site, they walk in through those doors and the display case we just put the original great coat
in is the first thing that they see. there is a wall panel describing it, and they do have to go around. it is protected against the light. then once they get their tickets, they go down this ramp and they go into either the museum or the theater itself. and so we are heading downstairs to the museum which is where most visitors start their visit and their journey through lincoln's presidency. one of the first things they see before they get into the museum is this replica life mask which we do encourage them to touch. this is a very interesting life mask. it was made in 1860, so just months before he was to start his first term as the 16th president of the united states. and so we see a much younger,
fresher looking lincoln. now we are entering the museum. it is in the basement of the theater itself. our museum does not just focus on lincoln's last day and last night. we do seek to make sure that visitors know who lincoln was as a man. as a human. and so our museum goes through the four years of his presidency, of his time in the white house. and ends with the theater itself. we are standing next to one of the most important glass artifact cases in our museum. this is the case that has the rest of the clothing that lincoln was wearing the night that he was here. we can see there is a suit jacket, which would have gone underneath the great coat.
the vest, pants, thourousers an boots. and a tie as well. and these are on display year round in the museum. they are not in as delicate condition as the great coat, which can only be on display a few months out of the year. fortunately relic hunters did not seem to want small pieces of the rest of the suit as much as they did the great coat and that's why the suit is in much better condition. and because of that, we can have it on display more than we can the great coat. we can also see there is one little spot of blood on the knees of the trousers because when -- after lincoln was shot, his body did slump forward. and so that is why there would be some blood there. that pillow is one of several
pillows in the peterson house where lincoln died nine hours after being shot here. he was brought to the house and he died there at 7:22 a.m. the next morning. and there were a few pillows underneath his head. this is one of them. we do have others. not all of them are in such good condition, and so we have it here. people can see some of those bloodstains. lincoln came to the theater that night in a very celebratory mood. as we know, general lee had surrendered to general grant that week. one of the most important military victories in the war. the entire city was celebrating, and lincoln also was celebrating the very important victory and came here to ford's theater to see the performance of "our american cousin." loved the theater very much. had been here about 12 times in
the previous year. so we are standing in the theater itself where lincoln was shot the night that he was here on april 14th, 1865. across from me, behind me, is the box itself. the presidential box, decorated specifically for lincoln's visit that night with the flags. the original portrait of george washington. lincoln got here around 8:30 for the play. the play had already begun about 30 minutes before. and we know that lincoln was a very humble, modest man. and so he really just wanted to kind of sneak in here. he wanted to go completely unnoticed and just go in, sit down, watch the play. unfortunately for him, the moment he arrived, there was a famous actress on stage, ms.
laura keen. and she noticed him sneaking by, and she stopped the play. she instructed the orchestra to play "hail to the chief." everybody in this theater, between 1,700 and 2,500 people, all stood up and gave the president a standing ovation. people were cheering. they were very, very excited and happy to see their president who had just helped them win this big victory in the civil war. then you would finally go in, sit down and enjoy the rest of the play until, of course, the tragic moment that he was shot. about two hours after he came in. all the clothing items went with lincoln to the peterson house where he was brought to live out his final hours. after lincoln was taken from the
house, his body was removed back to the white house. those items stayed there, but then they were returned to mrs. lincoln. mrs. lincoln is then the one who gave that great coat to alphonso dunn, who was a favorite door keeper, a kind of usher. he's the one who kept it for many years. he kept it in his family for over two generations. he had many offers to have that coat bought from him, including a very generous offer from the famous p.t. barnam. he refused all those offers, and that coat was in his family's hands until it came to the national park service in 1968. since 1968, ford's theater national historic site has been run through a very special
public/private partnership. the public part is the national park service, the private is ford's theater society. and that's been since 1968 that we've run this site together. we've run it boelt both as a national historic site where we have thousands of visitors come in and we interpret the events that happened here. at the same time, this is still an active working theater. and so in that way, we get to preserve lincoln's memory and it is a living memorial that pays tribute to his love of the performing arts. so that's the way the theater still is today. and we are very proud of that partnership. so we are about to open boxes of two items that are going to be in our center for education and learning that is going to be opened up in february 2012 across the street from the theater. these are two items in our collection that are not in the
museum. we are going to open a tassel that was part of the catafalk that surrounded lincoln's casket when he was on public viewing in the days after the assassination. we keep these in protective storage in our museum and resources center. then also we have the tools used to seal the casket 13 days after lincoln's body left washington, d.c., and arrived in springfield, illinois, where he would finally be buried on may 4th, 1865. these are the items used to seal the casket. on may 4th, 1865, original from 19th century created by s.s.
elder, the person who helped seal the casket. here we see a state officer's pass that he needed to get access to the casket itself. then the tools were used to solder the casket shut. you can see the tools, the iron solder tools with wooden handles. so we can see the tools are in a tin frame case that s.s. elder created so that he could display it. likely he was very proud of his work. this would have been a very important task for him to seal that famous casket shut. the peterson house is a part of our site. it is currently under renovation and will not be open until late spring. because next door to it, we are currently constructing a center
for education and leadership that will be opened in february of 2012 that will continue some of the exhibits from the museum and help the public learn more about president lincoln, not just his assassination and his death here, but also his life. which is also very important for us to understand who abraham lincoln was as a person. >> you can learn more about ford's theater and take a virtual tour of their facilities at fordstheater.org. you can view additional american artifacts programs by visiting the c-span video library, c-spanvideo.org and searching for american artifacts. throughout the weekend here on american history tv on c-span 3, watch personal interviews about historic events on oral
histories. our history bookshelf features some of the best known history writers. revisit key figures, battles and events during the 150th anniversary of the civil war. visit college classrooms across the country during lectures in history. go behind the scenes at museums and historic sites on "american artifacts." and "the presidency" looks at the policies and legacies of past american presidents. view our complete schedule at c-span.org/history and sign up to have it e-mailed to you by pressing the c-span alert button. the richard nixon presidential library convened a symposium called "understanding richard nixon and his era." the following discussion focuses on politics inclueing the former president's weak partnership with vice president spiro agnew, his relationship with the press in the 1960 presidential election. this program is an