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The Lincoln Hall Project « College of Liberal Arts & Sciences « University of Illinois

Lincoln Hall Project


A Mystery Solved (Almost)

Lincoln bust

Storyography receives an odd yet enlightening story submission.

We might not have names. We might not know the means. But thanks to an anonymous submission to Storyography, we know a lot more about the Statue Liberation Society and its role in the Abe Lincoln bust prank than we’ve known for the past 30-odd years.

Should the reference escape you—and rest assured, you are not alone—in fall 1979 unknown individuals entered Lincoln Hall and kidnapped the heavy bust of Lincoln from its perch in the east lobby. A couple of days later it was found by police sitting on a tree stump at the University golf course.

The unsolved prank might have been forgotten entirely if not for a couple mentions of the prank in the LAS News magazine during the building’s present renovation.

One of the pranksters, mildly annoyed at being remembered as a thief and standing accused of possibly damaging the bust during the heist, sent an anonymous audio recording to Storyography to set the record straight.

It’s not exactly a tell-all confession. His voice has been altered, for one thing, and the recording focuses primarily on motives. We know the Statue Liberation Society stood for better dorm food, for example, but their methods are still a mystery.

“We alerted University police [of the bust’s whereabouts], and certainly we were not responsible for any damage or any scratches that appeared later,” the former prankster says.

The University police consider the case closed.

You can listen to the full recording below. And should you know any more about the prank, or have any speculations as to how it occurred, we’d love to make another addition to this offbeat tale in campus history.

(Length: 7:22) | Transcript



The views expressed in Storyography are not necessarily those of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences or the University of Illinois.