Historic Site Alert: Due to construction, 10th Street will be closed south of the parking garage on Saturday, May 18 from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Plan bus loading/unloading accordingly. The garage will remain open. See map for all closures.

A photograph a pillow with faded blood stains.
Photo by Carol Highsmith.

The Pillow

A pillow from Willie Clark’s bed at the Petersen House is now a priceless relic. On it, you can see the blood of President Abraham Lincoln.

This pillow was one of several placed under President Lincoln’s head as he lay dying in the Petersen Boarding House. The doctors did their best to make the unconscious president comfortable. They laid Lincoln, too tall for the bed, diagonally across it. They covered his legs and feet with hot blankets, and cushioned his head with pillows like this one.

Doctors, colleagues and family knew Lincoln’s bullet wound would kill him. President Lincoln died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865. After his body was moved to the White House, Willie Clark, a 23-year-old U.S. Army clerk, returned home to discover the President had died in his bed.

Examine the Evidence: As you look upon the stains on this pillow, we invite you to reflect on the trauma felt by those closest to Lincoln, and by those who lived through this time. Visit Remembering Lincoln to learn more.

A photograph a pillow with faded blood stains.
Photo by Carol Highsmith.

Protect Our History

The night of April 14, 1865, forever changed our national history. Together, Ford's Theatre Society and the National Park Service partner to protect the artifacts from that night. Through these objects, we can better understand how that single event transformed our nation. Give to Ford's Theatre to help continue sharing the stories that shaped a nation.