Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Burlingame answers call to teach in Springfield

There's excitement in the air in Springfield today. Michael Burlingame is coming to town, and not just to do research at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (ALPLM) this time. He's coming to live and teach and, okay, to do research, too. After all, he's Michael Burlingame. He's the guy with the mantra, "Get down and dirty in that primary source material." He's the guy who lives the mantra. His new two-volume Abraham Lincoln: A Life is proof positive those primary sources still hold plenty of unmined treasures.

Since 2007, the University of Illinois (UIS) has been without a Lincoln scholar. Philip Shaw Paludan held the university's Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies until his death that year. Burlingame will fill the post well. He feels fortunate for the opportunity. I've walked into the ALPLM library before and spotted Burlingame sitting at a table doing research. He looks so natural there. And, you can be assured he'll spend plenty of time at those tables, as well as in many other repostitories large and small across the prairie state where newpapers, letters and more hold Lincoln stories yet untold.

Burlingame's not the only one who is lucky. We are, too. For decades, many of the leading Lincoln scholars were on the east coast, including Burlingame. We've been blessed with the brilliant Rodney Davis and Doug Wilson in the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, Vernon Burton at the University of Illinois until his recent retirement, and others here and there in the Midwest from time and time, but it seemed a shame that the town where Lincoln spent more years than any other didn't have a scholar of this caliber in recent years. Now, we do. And, this Lincoln buff for one is pretty excited about it. Hope you are, too.

Please join me in congratulating Michael Burlingame on this wonderful new opportunity - and UIS on their wisdom in bringing him here. As Steven Covey would say, it's a win-win. What a birthday present to Abraham Lincoln in his bicentennial year!

Learn more
Please read Pete Sherman's story in today's State Journal-Register to learn more about Burlingame's new opportunity. To learn more about Burlingame and his work, visit his website, too.
© Copyright 2009 Ann Tracy Mueller. All rights reserved.

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