San Diego, Calif.—San Diego History Center (SDHC) has discovered a document signed by Abraham Lincoln in its unprocessed archival collections. The document appoints San Diego resident, Lewis C. Gunn, to the federal post of Assessor of Internal Revenue for the First Collection Division of California.

President Lincoln signed the appointment on March 23, 1865, only twenty-three days before his assassination by John Wilkes Booth.

“I was reorganizing some collections when I came across a large box containing this framed certificate” explained Jane Kenealy, Archivist for San Diego History Center. “I compared it to the writing on another document we have that we thought might also have been written by Lincoln and there were strong similarities.”

The other document was a court declaration from the law firm of Logan and Lincoln in 1841. Lincoln was junior partner to Stephen T. Logan 1841-1844 and worked the 8th Judicial Circuit Court in Sangamon County, Illinois.

The writing and signature matched closely enough for Kenealy to contact the Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum in Springfield, Illinois which confirmed the authenticity of the letter by examining the penmanship of SDHC’s document against documents in its collection.

They also requested that SDHC send digital copies of both documents to be included in their project to collect and digitize all existing Lincoln documents.

“It’s really a terrific find for us,” says Executive Director, David Kahn. “These are the sorts of fascinating things that emerge periodically from within any collection of the enormous size and scope of the one here at the San Diego History Center. Who knows, maybe we’ll find a copy of the Declaration of Independence if we’re really lucky!”

The Marston Family most likely donated the document of Mr. Lewis Gunn’s appointment to the History Center decades ago. George W. Marston, developer of Presidio Park and the Junipero Serra Museum, haberdasher, and philanthropist of early San Diego, married Lewis Gunn’s daughter, Anna, in May of 1878.

The court document was donated to the History Center sometime in the 1940s as part of a collection belonging to William Hempstead Porterfield, a San Diego resident and editor/owner of the San Diego Sun newspaper. The collection also included other documents signed by famous people such as William Randolph Hearst, Gifford Pinchot, Woodrow Wilson and Theodore Roosevelt.

The Lincoln documents will be on display at San Diego History Center from February 7 – February 28 and can be viewed as part of the regular museum admission price.

San Diego History Center is dedicated to helping people of all ages learn about, and enjoy, the history of San Diego, and to appreciate how our past, present, and future are interrelated. The History Center was founded in 1928 and is one of the oldest and largest historical organizations in California. Together with the Chicago History Museum, the Atlanta History Center, and the Museum of the City of New York, it is one of only a handful of institutions nationwide that is dedicated to celebrating the heritage of a major American city.

San Diego History Center is located in Balboa Park’s House of Hospitality at 1649 El Prado, Suite 3, San Diego, CA 92101