William E. “Bill” Bartelt is a Lincoln historian and author focusing primarily on Lincoln’s youth in Indiana. He is the author or editor of books, articles, and numerous historical reports on Lincoln’s life, including There I Grew Up: Remembering Abraham Lincoln’s Indiana Youth (2008) and Abe’s Youth: Shaping the Future President (2019). For many years Bartelt worked as a ranger and historian at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. In addition to his work on the ALA board of directors, he serves on the board of the Lincoln Forum and the Indiana Historical Society, and received the Indiana Historical Society’s “Hoosier Historian” award in 2003.
Roger Billings, a distinguished law professor at Northern Kentucky University’s Salmon P. Chase College of Law, is renowned for his expertise on Abraham Lincoln and the intricate history of the Civil War, particularly the legalities surrounding secession. With a law degree from the University of Akron, Billings has significantly contributed to legal scholarship through authoring four textbooks and engaging in international legal exchanges in cities such as Munich, Moscow, and Salzburg. His academic achievements were recognized in 2004 when he was named a Fulbright Distinguished Professor at the University of Salzburg, a position he honors yearly as a visiting professor teaching international trade law.
Beyond his academic and professional endeavors, Billings harbors a deep passion for the life and legacy of Abraham Lincoln, dedicating much of his research to understanding Lincoln’s legal career. His notable work, Abraham Lincoln, Esquire: The Legal Career of America’s Greatest President, co-edited with Frank Williams and published by the University Press of Kentucky in 2010, underscores this focus. Billings’ commitment to sharing Lincoln’s historical significance extends to speaking engagements across the United States, addressing esteemed audiences at the New York City Bar Association, the Filson Historical Society, and various historical and legal associations. His dedication not only enriches the academic community’s understanding of Lincoln but also keeps the conversation about Lincoln’s impact on American law and society vibrant and ongoing.
His work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, National Review, and elsewhere. He is the ghostwriter of a number of books, the most recent of which was a New York Times bestseller. His own book, We Shall Fight: Churchill’s Greatest Speech, will be published in 2024 by HarperCollins.
Michael is the former executive director of the International Churchill Society and the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission. He worked closely with the cast and producers of Darkest Hour, and served as a consultant on Lincoln, the Steven Spielberg film. Previously, he held several positions on Capitol Hill and in the White House.
A member of the board of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, Michael lives in Washington, DC.
Jacob K. Friefeld is the Director of the Center for Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois Springfield. His most recent book, The First Migrants: How Black Homesteaders’ Quest for Land and Freedom Heralded America’s Great Migration (2023), tells the epic story of Black Americans homesteading in the Great Plains after the Civil War. The First Migrants unites the legacy of emancipation with the legacy of free land policy in the West. His first book, Homesteading the Plains: Toward a New History (2017), examines the Homestead Act of 1862, one of the most important social policies ever enacted in the United States. He was previously a research historian at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and he has a passion for making history accessible for broad audiences through his writing, public speaking, and work with museums.
Kathryn M. Harris is the first woman and the first African American to serve as president of the ALA since its inception in 1909. Harris retired in 2015 as the Library Services Director/Director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library. Harris has held many leadership roles with history organizations, including as board member of the Illinois Library Association and the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois (CARLI) and president of the Sangamon County Historical Society. She’s received many awards for her contributions, including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Illinois State Historical Society and a Paul Harris Fellow of the Springfield Rotary Club. Harris presents one woman shows of four historic 19th century African American Women to school children, civic, church and social groups, but her favorite character is Harriet Tubman.
Thomas Horrocks, a historian and retired librarian, holds a Ph.D. in history and a graduate degree in library science. With twenty-five years in library management, he transitioned to a consulting role at Heritage Auctions, focusing on political Americana, rare books, and manuscripts.
Horrocks has authored, edited, and co-edited seven books. His works include Lincoln’s Campaign Biographies (2014), President James Buchanan: A Crisis of National Leadership (2011), and The Annotated Lincoln (2014). He collects pre-1900 presidential campaign biographies and material related to Abraham Lincoln, including ephemera.
Andrew F. Lang is a distinguished historian who explores nineteenth-century America through the prism of the Civil War. His latest publication, A Contest of Civilizations: Exposing the Crisis of American Exceptionalism in the Civil War Era (2021), offers a critical examination of American identity and the contradictions of liberty and slavery. This work, part of the University of North Carolina Press’s Littlefield History of the Civil War Era series, was a finalist for the 2022 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize, recognizing its contribution to American historical scholarship. Lang’s analysis sheds light on the complex factors that led to the Civil War, challenging readers to reconsider the era’s impact on national identity and constitutionalism.
Lang’s initial book, In the Wake of War: Military Occupation, Emancipation, and Civil War America (2017), received the 2018 Tom Watson Brown Book Award for its innovative approach to Civil War studies. Currently, he is developing two significant projects: an intellectual biography of Abraham Lincoln’s views on union and history, and a study titled Lincoln’s Protégé: Ulysses S. Grant and the New Birth of Freedom, which investigates Grant’s adoption of Lincoln’s nationalist vision during Reconstruction. Lang’s involvement with the Society of Civil War Historians and advisory roles at key Civil War institutions underscore his significant contributions to the field and his ongoing commitment to understanding the Civil War’s legacy.
John A. Lupton is the Executive Director of the Illinois Supreme Court Historic Preservation Commission in Springfield, Illinois. He previously worked with the Lincoln Legal Papers and the Papers of Abraham Lincoln. Lupton has published numerous chapters and articles on Lincoln’s law practice and legal history. He is the editor of Prairie Justice: A History of Illinois Courts under French, English & American Law (2015) and Adjudicating Illinois: Justices of the Illinois Supreme Court (2018) and an assistant editor of the Law Practice of Abraham Lincoln: Complete Documentary Edition (2000, 2008) and The Papers of Abraham Lincoln: Legal Documents and Cases, 4 vols (2008).
Sarah Watson is the Executive Director of Looking for Lincoln and the Abraham Lincoln National Heritage Area. In this role, she spearheads efforts across a 43-county national heritage area and its 28 communities, focusing on the preservation and narration of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. Watson champions heritage tourism as a pivotal economic booster for these communities, leveraging the rich historical narrative to foster growth and development.
In addition to her leadership role, Watson is the Principal Consultant at Best in People, where she offers expertise in leadership development, interpersonal communication, and change management. Her background includes a tenure as a career development consultant and, prior to that, serving as the Communications Director for the Springfield School District.
Bob Willard, past president of the ALA and former President of the Abraham Lincoln Institute, is a retired government and industry professional with experience in both market management and information policy advocacy and with a comprehensive knowledge of the application of information technology to public needs. Willard is a long-time collector of books and other material about Abraham Lincoln, and has advised agencies involved in digitization of Lincoln material.