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WIU Vice President for Advancement and Public Services Brad Bainter, left, accepts the Lincoln portrait from WIU alumnus Matthew Toland. Also pictured, from WIU's Department of History is Professor Ginny Boynton.
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Alumnus Donates Lincoln Portrait to Western Illinois University

February 11, 2013

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MACOMB, IL – Before he became the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln sat for a portrait in June 1860 and three sets of glass negatives were preserved.

Nearly 153 years later, on Tuesday, Feb. 5, Western Illinois University alumnus Matthew Toland donated a framed portrait, made from one of those sets of negatives, to his alma mater.

Toland, a 2005 graduate with a bachelor's degree in women's studies and a 2010 graduate with a master's degree in museum studies, currently works for the Campbell Center for Historical Preservation Studies in Mt. Carroll. He is also a member of the Illinois State Historical Society's Advisory Board and the WIU Alumni Council.

Toland said three portraits of Lincoln were taken during the 1860 sitting; one set has been destroyed, one set is shattered, but held at the Smithsonian, and the third set, still able to be used to make print reproductions, is owned by the Illinois State Historical Society.

"This donated portrait was created using the glass plate negatives that were made when the original photo was taken," he said. "Lincoln commented that he liked this particular photo because he thought it showed off his character well."

The portrait was given to Toland as a gift from the Illinois State Historical Society, which he decided to pass along to the WIU Foundation for the University's permanent collection of Lincoln items.

"As a member of the University's Alumni Council, I wanted to make a permanent donation to the University," Toland said. "I think all WIU alumni should be giving back to the University in any way they can."

The donated portrait will be hung on the WIU Macomb campus.

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