After his 50th reunion in 1959, Victor Turner ‘09 felt compelled to give something to Denison in honor of his graduating class. Fortunately, Turner was more than a diagnostician and X-ray specialist who had practiced medicine for more than 30 years–he was also the proprietor of one of the nations greatest autograph collections. Among others casually displayed and stored throughout his home, Turner had the autographs of Daniel Boone and Sitting Bull, love notes from Josephine to Napoleon, a 16th-century letter from Martin Luther, and the signature of Queen Isabella of Spain from 1492. From such a wide selection, Turner chose to give Denison a rare photograph and handwritten, signed note by Abraham Lincoln as a memorial to the Class of 1909. The black and white photograph was taken shortly after Lincoln was elected president in 1860. The few lines on the small note –”Let their men take this oath of Dec. 8, 1863 and be discharged” –were written and signed by Lincoln on March 22, 1865, mere weeks before his assassination. These framed pieces hung in the American History room of Doane Library after Turner presented them to the college in 1961. Now they live with the other treasures in the archives.
Published November 2010