In his book Everybody’s History, Keith Erekson presents the Lincoln Inquiry, a central project of the Southwestern Indiana, almost as a case study for why the view of public history practice today needs to be expanded, specifically regarding social networks and their functions. We have already seen some of the different functions that social networks offer in public historical practice just in the short time we have been meeting as a class. Our partnership this semester with the Patapsco Heritage Greenway has shown us that collaboration with others outside of your own group or organization is often a part of the process. The social network for the project extends from Explore Baltimore to the Patapsco Heritage Greenway, our class, and the various sites we will be working on. Within our own network of the class, we can collaborate with one another on our own individual sites if we find something that may be of relevance to one of our classmates. Collaboration can happen on any of these levels in public history.
The Lincoln Inquiry engaged in a great deal of collaboration, both within and without the Southwestern. Early on, Lincoln biographers sent letters to Iglehart asking what research the Southwestern had in order to supplement their manuscripts. This form of collaboration with the more academic side of Lincoln history continued as the Southwestern published articles that were later referenced by biographers. Within the organization, they relied on a collective approach to both the research and writing elements of documenting Indiana’s pioneer history. While a paper may have only had one author, the input and information gathered from and by the various members was an important element in the process. Beyond that, without the collaborative efforts to gain oral history from Lincoln’s rapidly disappearing contemporaries, the irreplaceable firsthand accounts of Lincoln’s 14 years in Indiana would have been lost. Collaboration within the Southwestern was all aimed at one goal: to place Lincoln in the context of the pioneer frontier he had spent 14 years living in.
The collaborative nature of the Southwestern extended beyond what is traditionally thought of as the historical sphere and ventured into the world of politics. This is perhaps most clearly shown in Chapter 5 in relation to the campaign for a memorial at Nancy Hank Lincoln’s gravesite. Bess Ehrman, President of the Southwestern at the time, quickly realized that while 10 members had been given a place amongst the other organizers, very little of the decision-making process would occur in their hands. Iglehart’s belief in a conspiracy aside, this project showcases the difficulties that can be had when the social network of public history involves groups with very differing agendas. The Indiana state government wished to clean up their image after the scandal involving the KKK’s involvement in their government. The Lincoln Inquiry wished to partly have the site reopened after Richard Liber had closed it to most functions. Erekson talks about how the state government created a schematic narrative and how their power can shape the historical practice we do today. The state wanted to improve their reputation and used Nancy Hank Lincoln’s memorial as a tribute to the mother of the Great Emancipator rather than the Southwestern’s desire to place her in the frontier alongside her son.
 Keith A. Erekson, Everybody’s History: Indiana’s Lincoln Inquiry and the Quest to Reclaim a President’s Past (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2012), 6.
 Ibid., 38–42.
 Erekson, Everybody’s History: Indiana’s Lincoln Inquiry and the Quest to Reclaim a President’s Past.
 Ibid., 92.
 Ibid., 64–66.
 Ibid., 122.
 Ibid., 132.
Slightly edited from Source: “Everybody’s History: Indiana’s Lincoln Inquiry and the Quest to Reclaim a President’s Past” by Bridget Hurley