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History Sparkles

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Thursday, June 14, 2018by kenna.kj

All four of the presidents who lived in Illinois married strong women who put their own spin on the role of first lady. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will celebrate these unique women with a unique event June 14.

 Mixing music, history, desserts and drinks, “History Sparkles” will swing the spotlight away from the presidents and put it on Mary Lincoln, Julia Grant, Nancy Reagan and Michelle Obama.

 Historians will offer brief presentations on the first ladies in different locations around the museum, and guests can rotate from one to another. As they do, they’ll be able to sample desserts, enjoy a glass of sparkling wine and listen to performances by the Beth Anderson Flute Choir.

 Mary Lincoln (portrayed by the renowned Pam Brown) will open and close the festivities.

 History Sparkles is part of the special programming offered with “From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama,” the presidential library’s special Illinois bicentennial exhibit on the presidents who lived in the prairie state.

 The fun starts at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, June 14. Tickets are $35. (Museum members get a 10 percent discount.) For tickets, visit and click on “special event reservations.”

 The historians will share seldom-heard anecdotes about the first ladies, from Julia Grant traveling with a slave during the Civil War to the details of Michelle Robinson’s first date with Barack Obama. Each presentation is designed to encourage conversations and questions from the guests.

 The historians are:

  •   ALPLM Executive Director Alan Lowe on Nancy Reagan, whom he knew when working at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library
  • State Historian Samuel Wheeler on Mary Lincoln
  • Ian Hunt, the ALPLM’s chief of acquisitions, on Julia Grant
  • Christian McWhirter, ALPLM historian, on Michelle Obama

The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (located at 212 N. Sixth St., Springfield) is dedicated to telling the story of America’s 16th president through old-fashioned scholarship and modern technology.

The library holds an unparalleled collection of Lincoln books, documents, photographs, artifacts and art. The museum uses traditional exhibits, eye-catching special effects and innovative story-telling techniques to educate visitors.

It also has some 12 million items pertaining to all aspects of Illinois history, making the library one of the nation’s leading institutions for genealogy and history research.

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