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14-Year-old Finds Lincoln Death Photo American history buffs were startled in September 1952 when it was announced that a banned photo of Abraham Lincoln lying in his coffin was discovered by a 14-year-old boy. Robert Lincoln, the eldest son of the assassinated president, had forbade any post-mortem photography of his father. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton had zealously enforced Robert's wishes and destroyed several such photos and their negatives. Enter young Ron Rietveld of Des Moines, IA 80-plus years later. As a preteen Lincoln buff he had precociously begun corresponding with Judge James W. Bollinger, one of the country's leading collectors of Lincoln memorabilia. When Bollinger died in 1951, he left his collection to the University of Iowa. The 13-year-old Rietveld wrote to the university for permission to attend the dedication ceremony for Bollinger's collection. As a friend of Bollinger, Rietveld was granted VIP status. At the ceremony Rietveld befriended many of the great Lincoln historians of the era, including Henry Pratt. Pratt and his wife were so impressed by the teenager that they invited him to come to their Springfield, IL home to see Lincoln's tomb and visit the research library on the grounds. While there, Rietveld was given free rein to examine the archival material. Purely by chance, Rietveld began looking through papers sent by the son of Edwin Stanton. To his surprise, Rietveld found a photo (shown here) of Lincoln lying in state in an open coffin. It was taken on April 24, 1865 in New York City--meaning that Stanton had curiously kept one of the photos he was supposed to have destroyed. Rietveld recognized the scene from an artist's rendition that had appeared in Collier's magazine. Rietveld alerted Pratt to his find. Pratt suspected the photo was authentic, but he reserved judgement until it could be positively verified. Rietveld was sworn to secrecy. Not even his parents knew about his remarkable find until the story was front-page news in the Des Moines Register. As one might expect, Rietveld became a history professor himself.
Tags: Lincoln  post-mortem  photo  coffin  Ronald  Rietveld 
Added: 20th July 2015
Views: 2034
Posted By: Lava1964
Posted by: Classico on 2015-07-20 
an amazing story
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-07-21 
It is a remarkable story. I get exasperated when I see how little many young people care about history. Then i discover a story like this which gives me hope that there will always be people out there who will continue to keep history alive.
Posted by: Steve on 2015-07-21 
As a reporter I'm often torn if I should take a photo or not. If I take the photo and its not appropriate then I don't use it. But if it was important and I edited at the scene and not take the picture then I don't have the option to use it or not. When in doubt take the picture!
Posted by: Lava1964 on 2015-07-21 
There is a photo floating around cyberspace reputedly taken of Lincoln when his coffin was opened in 1901. I can safely say it's a hoax. There is no record of anyone in the exhumation party taking a picture of Abe.
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