The mission of the Harlan-Lincoln House and its collection is to interpret the site to the public for its significance to the Harlan and Lincoln families, to reinforce the relationship to Iowa Wesleyan University, and to fulfill the home’s vital role in the living history of the University and the community.
The Harlan-Lincoln House, located on the north side of the Iowa Wesleyan University campus, has been maintained as a museum since 1959. The museum includes artifacts belonging to the Harlan and Lincoln families; fragment of the coat Abraham Lincoln was wearing during his assassination, a mourning veil worn by Mary Todd Lincoln, Senator James Harlan’s desk, bound Congressional Records, and a door measuring the heights of the Harlan grandchildren in 1883. The home at the corner of Main Street and Broad became the Harlan family’s permanent residence in 1876 upon remodeling after Senator Harlan retired from national politics. Harlan’s daughter, Mary, married Robert Todd Lincoln, son of President Abraham Lincoln and they brought their three children to spend summers at the house in the late 1870s and 1880s.