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[Detail] Lincoln Centennial Association

Chronological Thinking

This collection includes copies of The New York Times for almost every day of the month following Lincoln’s assassination. These papers are a rich resource for examining what the public knew about the crime as well as how the nation responded to the president’s death. Displaying this information on a timeline can provide a visual snapshot of public knowledge about the crime.

Construct the base of a timeline of the month following the assassination of President Lincoln. Remember that every day should have the same amount of space on the timeline. Next, look for facts about the assassination reported in The New York Times or other newspapers. For each day, record three facts about the assassination that were published that day; choose the facts you think are most significant or interesting. If a later newspaper shows that an earlier fact you recorded was inaccurate, highlight the inaccurate information on the timeline and draw an arrow connecting that entry with the new information.

After you complete your work, examine it carefully. What does the timeline show about the development of public understanding of the assassination? Does anything about the information you have entered on the timeline surprise you? Why?

Using the same newspapers, construct a second timeline for the same time span. This timeline might show the country’s response to the president’s death or other news stories happening at the same time. What insight does completing the second timeline provide? How does comparing the two timelines help you understand this very specific time in U.S. history? Explain your answer.