Abe’s Youth

Since his death, Abraham Lincoln has been celebrated as savior of the Union, proponent for emancipation, president of the United States, and skilled statesman. Although Lincoln's adult life has been well documented and analyzed, most biographers have regarded his early years as inconsequential to his career and accomplishments.

In 1920 a group of historians known as the Lincoln Inquiry were determined to give Lincoln's formative years their due. Abe's Youth takes a look into their writings, which focus on Lincoln's life between 7 to 21 years of age. By filling in the gaps on Lincoln's childhood, the authors shed light on how his experiences growing up influenced the man he became.

As the first fully annotated edition of the Lincoln Inquiry papers, Abe's Youth offers indispensable reading for anyone hoping to learn about Lincoln's early life.

The book includes a foreword by Lincoln biographer Michael Burlingame and is co-edited by William E. "Bill" Bartelt, a Lincoln historian and retired educator. Bartelt's books include There I Grew Up, which tells the history of Abraham Lincoln's Indiana years and helped inspire The Better Angels, a 2014 biographical drama-historical film about Lincoln's formative years. He is considered the greatest living scholar on Abraham Lincoln's youth in Indiana.

Praise and Reviews

Media & Public Appearances

  • Andrew F. Lang, "Book Review: William E. Bartelt and Joshua A. Claybourn, Abe’s Youth; J. Edward Murr, Abraham Lincoln’s Wilderness Years," Lincoln Lore (Summer 2023)
  • Abraham Lincoln Institute Symposium (6 July 2020): Bill Bartelt presents at the 2020 Lincoln Institute Symposium (online) in conjunction with Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Click here for more details.
  • Dubois County Historical Society (26 March 2020): Bill Bartelt presents before the Dubois County Historical Society at 6:30 p.m. (ET) at the Dubois County Museum. Click here for more details.
  • 2020 ALA Symposium (12 February 2020): Bill Bartelt and I presented the Dr. Thomas F. Schwartz Lecture at the 2020 Abraham Lincoln Association Symposium in Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield, Illinois. Click here for more details.
  • Spencer County Historical Society (23 October 2019).
  • Spencer County Leader, “Newly published book is a must-read” (24 September 2019).
  • Southern Indiana Civil War Roundtable (15 August 2019): Bill Bartelt and I presented before this group to discuss the new book and its implications. Click here for more details.
  • 2019 Lincoln Day (10 February 2019): Bill Bartlet was the featured speaker at the annual Lincoln Day program at the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial. Click here for more details.

Buy the Book



Indiana Univ. Press (hardcover)
Indiana Univ. Press (paperback)
Indiana Univ. Press (ebook)
Local Bookseller (hardcover)
Local Bookseller (paperback)