Research Policy

Research Policy

Papers of Abraham Lincoln Editors at work at the National Archives.Papers of Abraham Lincoln Editors at work at the National Archives.

The primary purpose of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln is to identify, photograph, and publish, both comprehensively in electronic form and selectively in printed volumes, all documents written by or to Abraham Lincoln during his entire lifetime (1809-1865).  The Papers of Abraham Lincoln also recognizes both its role as a repository of information and the importance of maintaining strong relationships with the educational community and the general public.

It is the policy of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln to assist scholars, students, and other interested persons with their research questions regarding Lincoln’s life and the historical contexts in which he lived.  To do so without seriously interrupting or impeding progress toward its primary goals of collecting, processing, and publishing a comprehensive edition of documents from Lincoln’s entire life, the project has adopted the following guidelines:


  1. Members of the editorial staff will respond to specific queries about individuals with whom Lincoln corresponded or interacted, as well as to general inquiries about Lincoln’s law practice, political career, personal life, and presidency.  The editorial staff will also direct individuals to the project’s website ( for answers to general questions about Lincoln’s life and about the project.
  2. A member of the editorial staff will devote no more than one hour per response to each inquiry received by telephone, mail, or e-mail.  Staff members will respond to queries in the order received and as other duties permit.
  3. Visitors to the offices of the Papers of Abraham Lincoln are strongly encouraged to make an appointment to meet with a member of the editorial staff to discuss their research interests.  Members of the editorial staff will devote up to two hours per week to assisting visitors with research and reference questions.  Visitors who arrive without an appointment will be assisted as work schedules permit and are subject to the same two-hour weekly limit.
  4. The project will not distribute electronic files of databases, document images, interim transcriptions, or marked-up texts to any individual or institution.  When individuals or institutions who provide access to Lincoln documents within their collections request digital image files of the documents they own, the project will make an exception to this policy and provide those digital copies.
  5. Photocopies of documents or reports generated from the project’s databases or from The Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition in response to queries or visits are $0.25 per page, payable to the Papers of Abraham Lincoln.  Color copies of documents, with the permission of the institution that owns the original, are $5.00 per page.

Effective March 1, 2002; revised September 1, 2010