CI's hand in history

Lincoln exhibit "Council Room" shows items made by CI
The "Council Room" at the Lincoln exhibit

The craftsmanship of a group of Idaho Department of Correction inmates is on display in Boise with the opening of an exhibit called Abraham Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho.

The exhibit marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln signing the act that created Idaho Territory. The exhibit features a display which is designed to look like the Council Room at the White House when Lincoln lived there.

Many of the items in the display were designed and built by IDOC's inmate-training program, Correctional Industries. The items include a table, chair, fireplace, window, curtains and even wallpaper.  

"This is for the citizens of Idaho," says CI general manager Martin Thomas. "This is for the fourth graders that are going on tour there that are going to be able to walk into this room and say this is what Lincoln's office looked like in the 1800s."

To get ideas for the Council Room display, Thomas visited the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Ill. He also obtained an inventory of items in Lincoln's White House office from the White House curator. Inmates also relied on a reproduction of a painting that was done of the Council Room during Lincoln's presidency.

"This was a great training program for the [inmates], drawing it up," Thomas says. "And then, also, is teaching how to give back, so this is their way of showing that you have to give back also."

Abraham Lincoln: His Legacy in Idaho springs from a donation made to the State of Idaho by one its former lieutenant governors, David Leroy, and his wife Nancy. For many years, the Leroys collected original documents, photos, portraits, sculptures, campaign posters and more than 1,000 books pertaining to the life of the United States' 16th president. 

In 2012, the Leroys gave the collection to the State of Idaho and portions of it are now included in the exhibit.

The exhibit is on display at the Idaho State Archives near the Old Penitentiary on Boise's Warm Springs Avenue. The Archives is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

CI is a self-funded agency within the Idaho Department of Correction. CI's mission is to teach and strengthen offenders' life skills so the offenders are prepared to make a successful return to society when they are released from prison. 

Story published: 11/20/2013
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