Forgotten Pallbearers

Forgotten Pallbearers - Body

Write a letter

In The Huntingtonʼs Library collection is a large holding of objects relating to President Abraham Lincoln. This
includes a photograph of 12 men who were pallbearers in President Lincolnʼs funerary procession. A pallbearer is an
individual who helps carry the coffin at a funeral. The men in the photograph, taken by Mathew B. Bradyʼs studio,
paid to have their portrait taken to document this historic event. During the procession, there were different groups
of men who helped carry Lincolnʼs coffin. The job of these 12 men was to carry the coffin from the Capitol Rotunda
in Washington, D.C., to the awaiting hearse. These men were not documented in the official program, and for a long
time, their identities were lost in history. Written in pencil at the bottom of the photograph are the menʼs names.
Zoom in to take a closer look at this photograph and view the names of the forgotten pallbearers.

Now itʼs time to write a letter.


  • Paper
  • A writing utensil (pen, pencil, marker, etc.)


  1. Pick one of the men in the photograph.
  2. Think about what you would like to learn from this individual. What questions could you ask him? What would you tell him about life today?
  3. Then write a letter to the man you chose.


  1. How did you decide which of the pallbearers to write a letter to? Was it difficult to choose?
  2. Why do you think the names of these individuals were lost for so many years?
  3. Research other important political figures who have died. Who were the pallbearers for their funerals? Were the names of the individuals documented, or was a photograph taken, such as this one?

Share your art! #LearnAtTheH