By Sabrina Gonzalez
At Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial, I have never met so many enthusiastic Abraham Lincoln and National Park fans. A few times visitors have brought Lincoln memorabilia to share with the park staff. This has been from Lincoln spoons to a great collection of pennies. Personally, my favorite is when they ask for the special cancellation stamp to put in their books and when visitors come in with a stack of pages in their National Park Passport.
Lincoln Boyhood’s special cancellation stamp is a miss print. Instead of National, it says Nation. Principal Snider from Montana has been to over 375 National Parks. She said, “it’s a fabulous way to teach kids about authentic history and a way to nurture the character and ideals about this wonderful country.” Her goal is to complete her book and teach her students about the wonderful history she has learned along the way.
The Importance of Volunteers
Since my time at Lincoln Boyhood has begun I have been able to understand the importance of volunteers at National Parks. We are a fairly small park and the year around staff is twelve. During the summer peak season, the park staff grows to twenty two. The majority of these individuals are volunteers. The most interesting and kind volunteers I have been able to work with have been June and Alice; a mother-daughter duo. Alice is ten years old and asked her mother if they could help at the Living Historical Farm. Her mother agreed and once a week they dedicate a few hours to volunteer. Alice is the youngest volunteer at the park and we are happy to have her because we are able to show visitors the different types of chores and activities children would have done at the farm. Volunteers, like Alice, are able to improve the visitor experience at National Parks.
Which National Park Has the Tallest Flagpole?
Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial! It is 120 feet and 3 inches tall. Every morning and every evening myself or another volunteer brings the large sack filled with the 18’ x 12’ flag to the flagstaff to be hoisted. When I was working at the archives one day I stumbled upon a file marked Park History Flagstaff. In this file, I found a 1985 letter by the Guinness Books. The Superintendent, Norman D. Hellmers, wrote a letter to Alex E. Reid, Assistant Science Editor, discussing the height of Lincoln Boyhood’s flagpole. Unfortunately, it is a rejection letter. We may not have the tallest flagpole in the United States but we do have the tallest flagpole within the National Parks.
My Work as a Museum Technician Continues
I am proud to say that I have completed the cataloging for the museum collections. Now, I have moved on to filing for the archives. I will continue this work until my internship is over. Lincoln Boyhood has archives for the Park History, Lincoln History, Lincoln Collections, Spencer County, Lincoln Boyhood Drama Association, Lincoln Related Organizations, and Warrick County.
The most recent archive collection I have completed has been the Park History Archive. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial became a National Park in 1962, signed into law by John F. Kennedy. Prior, it was an Indiana State Park named Nancy Hanks Lincoln State Memorial. It was dedicated to Abraham Lincoln’s mother because she is buried at the park. The Park History Archive contains the records for both the, previous, State Park and the, current, National Park. I try to share this knowledge as much as I can with visitors. It is important to know why Lincoln Boyhood is a National Park but it is also important to know how it became a National Park.
In “My Childhood Home I See Again,” Abraham Lincoln writes, “saddened with the view; and still as memory clouds my brain there’s pleasure in it too.” The foundations of his character are laid through his youth experiences. What brings a man from a log cabin to the white house? Who would change the structure of society and leave a mark on history? The answer lies not in a single past event but a sequence of them. Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial brings his past to life in a monumental and engaging way that both inspires and educates the public. Participating at this park has taught me the positive impact this has on visitors and the reason why I will continue this work.