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The New York State Museum, a division of the New York State Education Department, unveiled a traveling exhibition in Fall 2012 to mark the sesquicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.

The exhibition, entitled The First Step to Freedom: Abraham Lincoln’s Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, traveled to nine cities across New York State. The exhibition offered an unprecedented display of the only surviving version of the document in Lincoln’s handwriting and included historical background and interpretation of the document. The First Step to Freedom also displayed the manuscript of a speech written and delivered in New York City in September 1962 by Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. for the Proclamation’s centennial.

This virtual exhibition presents all of the information and resources in the traveling exhibition.

PDF iconExhibition Education Packet (pdf 20MB)

Exhibition iBook for Apple iPad

Commissioner John B. King Jr. speaks at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture for the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Harold Holzer speaks in the New York State Museum's Huxley Theater about "Lincoln and Liberty: Re-assessing the Preliminary Proclamation in the Age of Spielberg."