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January 17, 2013

Bible Used in Lincoln and Obama Inaugurations on Display Jan. 23 to Feb. 18

Located in “The Civil War in America” Exhibition

The Lincoln inaugural Bible used by Barack Obama when he took his first presidential oath of office in 2009—which will be used again by the president along with Martin Luther King’s Bible at the second inaugural ceremony on Jan. 21—will go on display at the Library of Congress from Jan. 23 to Feb. 18.

The Lincoln Bible, bound in burgundy velvet with a gold-washed metal rim, will be on view from Wednesday, Jan. 23 through Monday, Feb. 18, in the exhibition "The Civil War in America" in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First St. S.E., Washington, D.C. The exhibit is free and open to the public from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

On March 4, 1861, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney administered the oath of office to Abraham Lincoln using a Bible provided by William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the Supreme Court, because Lincoln’s family Bible was packed with other belongings that were still en route to Washington from Springfield, Ill.

In the back of the velvet-covered Bible, along with the seal of the Supreme Court, the volume is annotated: "I, William Thomas Carroll, clerk of the said court do hereby certify that the preceding copy of the Holy Bible is that upon which the Honble. R.B. Taney, Chief Justice of the said Court, administered to His Excellency, Abraham Lincoln, the oath of office as President of the United States."

The 1,280-page Bible was published in 1853 by the Oxford University Press. In the center of the front cover is a shield, made of gold wash over white metal, with the words "Holy Bible" engraved into it.

On Jan. 20, 2009, President-elect Obama took the oath of office on this Bible that is steeped in history. He will use it again on Jan. 21, in addition to Martin Luther King’s Bible. The two Bibles will be stacked one on top of the other, as the president takes the oath of office for a second time.

The Lincoln Bible, part of the Library of Congress collections, was last on display in 2009 in the exhibition "With Malice Toward None: The Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Exhibition."

The Lincoln Bible will join other treasures in "The Civil War in America," including the final draft of Lincoln’s First Inaugural Address; the original pasted-up reading copy of Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address and Lincoln’s first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. These original documents will be on view through Feb. 18.

The Civil War exhibition, which opened on Nov. 12, 2012, is slated to close on June 1, 2013.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 155 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at

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PR 13-015
ISSN 0731-3527

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