Forbes House Museum invites Milton residents to participate in 2016 Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest

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Forbes House Museum 2016 Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest

Friday, December 4, 2015: Release of the 2016 essay topic/question and drawing theme

Friday, February 26, 2016, 5 p.m.: Deadline for submissions of essays & drawings

Friday, March 25, 2016: Winners announced

Sunday, April 10, 2016, 2 p.m.: Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest Awards Ceremony (location to be determined)

2016 Lincoln Essay Contest Question:

Grades 6-8

John Murray Forbes (1813-1898), Milton resident, was an entrepreneur, industrialist, abolitionist, philanthropist and a civic leader.

John Murray Forbes wrote a letter to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States on September 8, 1863 urging Lincoln to clearly define the Civil War, in which he said:

“My suggestion, then, is that you should seize an early opportunity and any subsequent chance, to teach your great audience of plain people that the war is not the North against the South, but the people against aristocrats. … This class (aristocrats) in the rebel States numbers about 28,000 persons, which is about the 178th part of 5,000,000.”

What is John Murray Forbes saying to President Lincoln in the above quote, when he defines the Civil War as being between “plain people” and “aristocrats”?

2016 Lincoln Drawing Contest Topic:

Grades K–5

In 1848, Abraham Lincoln gave a speech nearby in Lower Mills (Dorchester).  Imagine Lincoln visited John Murray Forbes at the Forbes House after his speech and draw your vision of the visit.

The full text of John Murray Forbes’ letter to Lincoln, images of him and Lincoln and of the Forbes House can be found at:

What is the Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest?

The Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest was established in 1924 by Mary Bowditch Forbes (1878-1962), granddaughter of China trade merchant, Captain Robert Bennet Forbes (1802-1889) and grandniece of John Murray Forbes (1813-1898).  Ms. Forbes greatly admired President Abraham Lincoln, and in 1909 began collecting Lincoln and Civil War artworks and memorabilia, which are now part of the Museum’s permanent collection. To promote appreciation for our 16th president, Ms. Forbes requested original essays and drawings from students each year, inspired by the life and work of Abraham Lincoln.

Today, the Museum continues the tradition, and sends an annual request for essays and drawings from students throughout Milton and Greater Boston. Each fall, the FHM Lincoln Committee, comprised of Museum Trustees, K-8 educators, Lincoln historians and Civil War enthusiasts, meets to debate and select a question and topic. The question and topic are then released to the public, and students must use the question or topic as the subject for their essay or drawing.

Individual student submissions are encouraged. The FHM Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest was established as a civic exercise, challenging students to excellence outside the scope of their regular school work.

K-8 educators are also welcome to introduce the essay and drawing question or topic to their students as part of a classroom lesson or unit of instruction.  A submission of individual essays and drawings, gathered into one package by an educator, is accepted and encouraged.

First, second and third place winners are chosen among the entries for each grade level. Essays are accepted from students in grades 6 through 8; drawings are accepted from students in grades Kindergarten through grade 5.

Prizes will be awarded to the first place winner of each grade level.  All winners will receive a free Family membership to the Forbes House Museum, along with other surprises!

An awards ceremony is held each year to celebrate the winning students’ accomplishments.  Some winners of the essay contest are asked to read their essays to the guests.

Essay & Drawing Submission Guidelines:

ON THE BACK of your essay or drawing you MUST include:

  • Your name
  • Your grade
  • Your school
  • Your teacher’s name
  • Your home address
  • The name & e-mail address and telephone number of your parent or guardian

Essay Guidelines:

Grade 6-8: 600-word max

Essays will be judged on:

  1. Ideas/Voice (The topic, focus, and details make the essay truly memorable)
  2. Historical Accuracy/Research (The essay accurately references historical events, quotes, sources)
  3. Organization (The organization makes the essay informative and easy to read)
  4. Sentence Fluency/Conventions (Writing shows smooth sentence structure, punctuation, spelling and grammar)

Drawing Guidelines:

Any media is allowed, with a maximum drawing size of 18” x 24”

Drawings will be judged on:

  1. Originality (The image is clear, unique and original)
  2. Artistic Merit (The composition, form and color of the art is pleasing to the eye)
  3. Historical Accuracy (The art references the topic and shows understanding of who, what, where and when)

Essays can be dropped off at the Museum office or mailed to:

Forbes House Museum
215 Adams Street
Milton, MA 02186

The Museum will accept essay submissions by e-mail:

The essay should be sent as a word document or PDF to [email protected].

The subject line of the e-mail must read: Lincoln Essay 2016.

Body of e-mail MUST include:

  • Your name
  • Your grade
  • Your school
  • Your teacher’s name
  • Your home address
  • The name & e-mail address and telephone number of your parent or guardian

Drawings cannot be submitted by e-mail; original works of art must be sent or delivered to the Museum for judging.

For more information about the Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest, visit our website at: or call the Museum office at 617.696.1815.

**Upon submission, essays and drawings become the property of the Forbes House Museum and remain in our archives at the museum’s discretion. The FHM reserves the right to reproduce essays and artworks for publicity and promotion of the museum and its programs, which includes press releases, electronic media announcements, brochures, posters and postcards.

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