David Spriegel was in his second week as an intern at Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, sorting through a box of 19th century papers that was donated to his organization three years prior, when he unearthed something spectacular- two original, previously unknown documents written in 1844 by an up-and-coming lawyer named Abraham Lincoln.
“To tell you the truth, I doubted that these documents could really be authentic,” Spriegel admitted this Wednesday, when asked about his mid-May discovery. “I figured a discovery like this would have been made by somebody else over the years. I didn’t think somebody in their first week on the job would find this.”
It took a confirmation from the museum’s manuscripts Librarian, Glenna Schroeder-Lein, for Spriegel to actually believe his rare find was ‘real’.
“I was sitting there talking to somebody, and David walked over and said, ‘You know, I see these notations on here — is this possible? Could this really be possible?'” Schroeder-Lein said. “And I’ve seen Lincoln documents before, so I knew right away it could be possible.”
After some research, it was determined that the papers, bearing no other signature or date, were part of a legal case out of Christian County, which is southeast of Springfield. Lincoln appears to have written two pages of notes while preparing a petition he filed in March 1844, some two years before the prairie lawyer was elected to Congress.
The two documents are now included among the 1,580 other original Lincoln manuscripts at the presidential library and museum. They will also be available this fall for viewing at the Papers of Abraham Lincoln website.
Spriegel, who plans on getting a Master’s in library science, told reporters that he’s eager to keep working at the museum, and is hoping to continue an already promising career in research.