Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration Archive
The Illinois State Board of Education joined with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum to encourage students across the state to participate in a nation-wide simultaneous reading of the Gettysburg Address on Feb. 12, 2009 to attempt to set a new Guinness World Record. The reading was part of a series of state and national events marking Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday.
“This celebration of the life and legacy of our nation’s 16th President is a once in a lifetime opportunity,’’ said State Superintendent of Education Christopher A. Koch. The results were announced on March 23, 2009 with news that the reading fell short of the world record.
According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the record for most people reading aloud simultaneously is 223,363 participants. The February 12, 2009 reading included approximately 180,000 readers. Teachers and school administrators registered for the reading at www.PresidentLincoln.org where they also found the Gettysburg Address and other resources for the day.
In addition, public school students in grades 5 and 8 who were in class that day received a commemorative poster with the 271 words that President Lincoln so eloquently delivered in 1863 on the battlefield near Gettysburg.
“Lincoln’s brief speech reminds Americans that the ideals of equality and freedom are the foundations of healthy democratic government,’’ said Illinois State Historian Thomas Schwartz. “A moving testament to the honored dead, the address is also a challenge to contemplate what the ultimate cause for their sacrifice was. Lincoln urges Americans to expand their understanding of American equality through a `new birth of freedom,’ for the former enslaved peoples.’’
The February 12 Gettysburg Address reading, entitled the Four Score and Seven Project, was generously supported by JP Morgan Chase, MacArthur Foundation and The Chicago Community Trust, and administered by the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation.
“We know that teaching and learning become more effective when students are engaged and participating in what they’re studying,’’ said Superintendent Koch. “We hope that the activities of the day will whet the appetites of future historians.’’