For Community-Wide Celebrations
- Organize a special parade in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday or design a Lincoln Bicentennial float as part of a Fourth of July or other community celebration.
- Hold a “Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!” street party or barbeque at a public site
- Ask your local officials or governor to issue a proclamation declaring the commemoration of the 200th anniversary of Lincoln’s birth (see sample proclamation).
- Dedicate a public building such as a school, community center, performing arts center, library or town hall in Lincoln’s honor. The same could apply to parks, trails, roads, or public gardens.
- Work with your local post offices to coordinate a Lincoln Bicentennial stamp event.
- Stage a public reading of some of Lincoln’s most famous speeches. For example: all Illinois school children will recite the Gettysburg Address at a designated time on Lincoln's birthday.
- Encourage “Lincoln” named places to play an active role in commemorating and promoting the bicentennial
- Plant a special Lincoln Tree on the grounds of the state capitol.
For the Arts
- Commission a public art piece in honor of Lincoln’s 200th birthday
- Suggest that local orchestras or bands perform Aaron Copeland’s Lincoln Portrait.
- Lincoln had a love of theater, especially Shakespeare. Encourage local theaters to perform some of his favorites.
- Encourage local museums to create exhibitions related to Lincoln’s life and times
- Create a Lincoln Speaker’s series
- Contact your local public television station to request that Lincoln biographies and film be broadcast.
- Place a portrait of Lincoln in the front lobby or other prominent location of public buildings such as schools, town halls, libraries, police or fire stations.
- Hold an art exhibition or contest around the theme of “Freedom, Equality, and Opportunity.”
- Contact state and local historical societies about the bicentennial.
- Hold a poster contest for children with the theme “Happy 200th Birthday Mr. Lincoln!”
- Partner with a local school to raise money to offer a college scholarship to a student who embodies the spirit of Lincoln’s rise from humble beginnings.
- Invite local scout or youth groups to perform in Lincoln birthday celebrations
Ideas for Schools
- Select a significant event in Abraham Lincoln’s life for each month of the school year. Assign students to research the event; prepare PowerPoint presentations or bulletin board displays on it, and reenact it in a classroom assembly.
- Research your community’s history during the Lincoln Era, especially during the Civil War.
- Prepare a map showing the locations of counties and cities named for Abraham Lincoln. Do the same for streets, schools, or businesses in your community.
- Have students work in teams to prepare detailed proposals on appropriate legacy projects to observe the Lincoln bicentennial.
- Compare Presidential elections in the mid-nineteenth century with today.
- Have students work the math problems of Lincoln by using the sum books pages found in volume 1 of The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln.
- Sponsor an amateur Abraham Lincoln look-alike contest.For fun, this event can be done either within schools or as a stand-alone activity with a local community event.
- Sponsor wreath laying events at Lincoln statues, Civil War veteran statues, and include re-enactors, school children, and music.
- Sponsor flag plantings on veteran graves generally, but Civil War veteran grave sites in particular. This activity would be especially appropriate around Memorial Day.
- Hold a tree planting ceremony to honor Lincoln’s birthday at your school or a nearby community park.Oaks are good symbols of the Union and the strength of Abraham Lincoln.
- Read contemporary newspaper accounts or editorial cartoons about Lincoln and discuss how different groups perceived him differently.
- Study the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and talk about how it represents Lincoln's strengths. Draw a new one based on what you've read about Lincoln. (smaller kids might like this one too)
- Read, compare, and contrast his first and second inaugural addresses. Can you tell how his views of the War or the Union stayed the same or changed over time?
- Have the class divide and take sides in the Lincoln-Douglas Debates.
- Have the class divide and debate the decision-making process leading to secession and war.
- Gather photographs, film clips, and reports of events at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC, and prepare a slide show or poster.
- Study Lincoln's sum book and compare it to how students learn today.
- Write and perform a play about Lincoln's trip down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.
- Gather as many images of Lincoln as you can find, from official portraits to advisements, and arrange them in a collage with a theme to put on display.
- Create an exhibit of Lincoln stories, jokes, and quotations for your school hallway or local history museum or public library.
- Encourage Lincoln pageants.
- Hold an in-school competition of the reciting of the Gettysburg Address.
- Recreate Lincoln cabinet meetings on particular cabinet decisions at assemblies.
- Hold school debates on issues on confronting Lincoln during his life.
- Sponsor the purchase of new Lincoln books for your public library.
- Encourage local book clubs to choose a Lincoln biography during 2009.
- Apply to receive the traveling exhibition, Forever Free: Abraham Lincoln and Emancipation, sponsored by the American Library Association, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission.
- Lincoln’s life embodies a love for learning and books.Consider holding a read-a-thon in his honor.
- Plan to visit a Lincoln related site.
- Read a Lincoln biography.
- Watch the national televised celebration on February 12, 2009.
- Volunteer to help your state with Lincoln Bicentennial events and programs.
Plan an Abraham Lincoln Birthday Party.