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Haverford College
Quaker and Special Collections
Henry Hale Graham Sharpless
The letter from President-elect Lincoln, the first letter in his collection.

Charles Roberts Autograph Letter Collection

Charles Roberts, a graduate of Haverford College in 1864, was inspired to begin collecting what would become a magnificent collection of autograph letters after receiving a letter addressed to him personally by Abraham Lincoln while Roberts was still a Haverford undergraduate. Lincoln’s letter to Roberts is dated November 17, 1860, just 11 days after Lincoln won the presidential election. (Roberts later saw Lincoln at the Haverford railroad station on February 22, 1861, when the President-elect traveled through Philadelphia to Harrisburg and on to Washington, DC for the inauguration. On April 22, 1864, the year Roberts graduated from Haverford, the assassinated President’s body would pass through the Haverford railroad station, this time retracing his inaugural route in reverse). The letter from Abraham Lincoln is now a part of this valuable collection, ranging from a set of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence, letters of the Presidents of the United States, letters of foreign royalty, abolitionists, distinguished American and foreign authors and composers, scientists, educators and businesspeople. The letters date from ca. 1400 to the present; many are accompanied by fine prints and photographs.

When Roberts’ widow, Lucy B. Roberts, gave the collection to Haverford in 1902, it contained some 12,000 items. The collection continues to grow, and it now numbers over 20,000 letters and other original documents. The collection has drawn significant numbers of scholars over the years in quest of the wealth of data it contains.


Online Guide

List of names in the Charles Roberts Autograph Collection