Everybody’s History

Indiana’s Lincoln Inquiry and the Quest to Reclaim a President’s Past

Everybody’s History tells the story of hundreds of Americans in the 1920s and 1930s who worked to preserve, research, and write the “missing chapter” in the life of Abraham Lincoln—his years from age seven to twenty-one when he lived on the Indiana frontier. Along the way, they thwarted secret plots, competed with contemporary Lincoln biographers, and crossed paths with the Ku Klux Klan. Everybody’s History invites all who are interested in the past to see history as both vital to public life and meaningful to everybody because everybody’s history matters.

“Insightful . . . This book’s great value is in stimulating historians to think about what they do and how and why they do it . . . . Erekson’s perceptive monograph makes the Lincoln Inquiry as relevant to the twenty-first century as it was to the nineteenth.”

—Journal of American History

“Public historians will find much that is provocative.”

—The Public Historian

“Well documented . . . a major revelation . . . one wishes for more studies like this one that might link national-level historiography with the popular construction of American history.”

—Indiana Magazine of History

“Everybody’s History is both an engaging narrative of Lincoln studies in the early twentieth century and a sophisticated appraisal of the process and practices of historical inquiry.”

—Journal of the Illinois State Historical Society

“This book should be required reading for any public history program as it sheds light not only on the evolution of the field but also on the occasional ‘disconnect’ between public history and academia.”

—Timothy P. Townsend,
Lincoln Home National Historic Site