Forbes House Museum 2017 Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest

Sunday, February 12th, 2017
Release of the 2017 essay topic and drawing theme

Thursday, April 13th, 2017, 5 p.m.
Deadline for submissions of essays and drawings

Friday, May 12th, 2017
Winners announced

Sunday, May 21st, 2017, 3:30 p.m.
Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest Awards Ceremony
Sponsored by B. R. Alexander & Co. and Citizens Bank



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). Miss 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, Miss 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 year, 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 kindergarten through grade 5.

Prizes will be awarded to the first place winner of each grade level and are being generously provided by B.R. Alexander & Co. and Citizens Bank. 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. This year, the ceremony will be held at Pierce Middle School, 451 Central Avenue, Milton, MA 02186.



Mary Bowditch Forbes was the last resident of the Forbes House. Miss Forbes distinguished herself as a collector of Lincoln memorabilia and willed the house to become a museum upon her death. It is her collection of Lincoln artifacts and the replica of his log cabin that have inspired many young people to learn about the Forbes Family, Abraham Lincoln, and the Civil War. Miss Forbes was clearly an influential woman who donated much to our community.

Like Miss Forbes, women during the Civil War Era proved to be influential in their own right. Women managed family farms and homesteads, served as nurses, teachers, and spies and even disguised themselves as men to take up arms and fight. It is clear that women played a critical role in the war effort and the period of Reconstruction that followed.

2017 Lincoln Essay Contest Topic:
Grades 6-8

Write an essay clearly describing women’s contributions during the Civil War Era and how these efforts supported President Lincoln in preserving the Union and extending the rights guaranteed by our Founding Fathers.

2017 Lincoln Drawing Contest Topic:
Grades K-5

As a lover of history and a collector of artifacts, Miss Mary Bowditch Forbes surrounded herself with many items that were representative of Lincoln and his efforts in the Civil War. What might Miss Forbes show you if you visited the Forbes House during her lifetime? Using the images in the picture gallery below for inspiration, draw a picture of your visit to meet Miss Forbes.


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
Your home telephone number
The name of your parent or guardian
An e-mail address for your parent or guardian

Essay Guidelines:
Grades 6-8

600-word maximum

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:
Grades K-5

Any media is allowed

Maximum size of the drawing is 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 and drawings can be dropped off at the Museum office or mailed to:
2017 Lincoln Essay and Drawing Contest
Forbes House Museum
215 Adams Street
Milton, MA 02186

The Museum will also accept essay submissions by e-mail:
The essay should be sent as a word document or PDF to
The subject line of the e-mail must read: Lincoln Essay 2017

In the body of the e-mail you MUST include:
Your name
Your grade
Your school
Your teacher’s name
Your home address
Your home telephone number
The name of your parent or guardian
An e-mail address for 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.

**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.

For more information about the Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest, call the Museum at 617-696-1815.

Download a PDF of the full 2017 Lincoln Essay & Drawing Contest brochure here.