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Designing the Emancipation Proclamation

Following the Battle of Antietam, 158 years ago today Abraham Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation declaring that in 100 days, all slaves in Southern states in rebellion would be free.


When Jan. 1, 1863, arrived, Lincoln followed through. On days like this we like to note the occasion by delving back into the nation’s archives to discover how the graphic designers and commercial artists of the era documented and depicted the news then and after.


Here is but a sampling from the Library of Congress—starting with Lincoln’s original handwritten decree, and ending with Georg Olden’s Emancipation Proclamation centennial stamp and Gail Anderson’s 150th anniversary stamp.



Reading the Emancipation Proclamation / H.W. Herrick, del., J.W. Watts, sc. Circa 1864.

Emancipation Proclamation / del., lith. and print. by L. Lipman, Milwaukee, Wis. Circa 1864

Caricature of Abraham Lincoln writing the Emancipation Proclamation. 1864.

No date record.

Circa 1886.

Circa 1896

No date record.

Abraham Lincoln and his Emancipation Proclamation / The Strobridge Lith. Co., Cincinnati. Circa 1888.

Georg Olden

Gail Anderson

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