Artifact may address Lincoln genetics

    A small, obscure Civil War museum in Northeast Philadelphia could hold the key to solving the mysteries surrounding the physique of Abraham Lincoln. A California researcher who has written books about Lincoln’s health wants to use an artifact for DNA testing.

    A small, obscure Civil War museum in Northeast Philadelphia could hold the key to solving the mysteries surrounding the physique of Abraham Lincoln. A California researcher who has written books about Lincoln’s health wants to use an artifact for DNA testing.

    Listen:
    [audio: reports20090415lincoln.mp3]

    A framed strip of pillowcase, stained with the blood and brain material of Abraham Lincoln is part of the collection of the Grand Army of the Republic Museum and Library in Frankford. Testing the pillowcase could be the last chance for a physician seeking Lincoln’s DNA to prove his hypothesis that the President suffered from a rare form of cancer.

    But the museum’s board is concerned that testing the piece could damage the artifact. Andy Waskie is a Civil War historian and board member.

    Waskie: Would it be of scientific interest to finally once and for all prove or disprove something about Lincoln’s physical nature and his health? Yeah, I think that would be interesting, but we’re trying at the same time to protect the integrity of the artifact.

    Waskie says other museums have turned down the researcher because of concern over damage. A vote on the issue is scheduled next month.

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