New York: Cooperstown museum displays notes from Lincoln's autopsy

The Fenimore Art Museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., opens a small exhibition Wednesday (today) that displays handwritten notes made by doctors who performed an autopsy on President Abraham Lincoln.

The documents chronicle the physical damage done by the bullet that killed Lincoln at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865.


To mark the 150th anniversary of his death, the museum also will host a reading of "Our American Cousin," the play Lincoln was watching at Ford's Theater the night he was killed, and re-enact what happened after he was shot.

The event is free and will be held at 6:30 p.m. on April 14.

"Autopsy for a Nation: The Death of Abraham Lincoln" runs until Dec. 31. It gives visitors a chance to read handwritten notes made by U.S. Army surgeon Dr. Joseph Janvier Woodward, who, along with Dr. Edward Curtis, performed the autopsy the next day at the White House.

Woodward's notes include a description of the "gunshot wound of the head around which the skull was greatly thickened by hemorrhage into its tissue..." He later created the official autopsy report from the notes.

Dr. Robert King Stone, who witnessed the autopsy, made notes on blank prescription slips. The instruments used in the autopsy are kept by the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

(Other exhibitions opening Wednesday include "Marc Chagall's Magic Flute: Highlights from the Metropolitan Opera" and "50 at 20: Masterpieces of American Indian Art From the Thaw Collection.")

Visitors heading to Cooperstown for the exhibition and/or the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum will find a hotel package at the Otesaga Resort Hotel for stays from April 22 to May 31 (excluding Memorial Day weekend).

Rooms start at $289 a night and include breakfast and tickets to one of the three museums in Cooperstown: the Fenimore, the Baseball Hall of Fame or the Farmers' Museum. The hotel is located on the shores of Lake Otsego, with a veranda and rocking chairs that face the lake.

Info: Fenimore Art Museum, 5798 Route 80, Cooperstown; (607) 547-1400; Otesaga Resort Hotel, 60 Lake St., Cooperstown; (607) 547-9931