Lincoln Catafalque

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Lincoln Catafalque
H. W. Immke
Chicago Public Library
Grand Army of the Republic Collection,
SPE GAR 72.377

In this photograph, President Lincoln’s coffin—in a special covered platform called a catafalque—passes through elaborate arches erected on Park Place in Chicago (near today’s Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Road). The center arch was twenty feet wide and forty feet high. The president’s remains were pulled by a carriage with eight black horses. Thirty-six young women, in white dresses and black scarves and headbands, each symbolizing one of the states of the Union, placed wreaths on the coffin and then walked with it on the way to Court House. The Chicago Tribune estimated that more than 100,000 people watched and 36,000 participated in the funeral procession, which lasted four hours. Houses and shops were draped in black cloth and American flags and adorned with portraits of Lincoln and printed tributes. The funeral in Chicago was the second to last stop of Lincoln’s funeral train, which journeyed for thirteen days from Washington, D.C. Lincoln’s remains lay in state in Chicago for the public to view for the next day and evening, after which his body was taken to its burial site in Springfield, Illinois.

The photograph bears an imprint on its mat by H. W. Immke, a photographer in Princeton, Illinois. In the 1860s, Immke studied with Samuel Fassett, a well known Chicago photographer who also made images of Lincoln’s funeral. Can you see the blurred areas? These resulted from movement in the crowd—photography at this time was unable to capture action scenes clearly.

1. Can you make out the slogans on the top of the arch? What symbols have been attached or carved into the arch?

For information about the images, please contact Special Collections at the Chicago Public Library (