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Copley Press pledges $1 million to foundation
Donation in honor of publisher of State Journal-Register

The company that owns The State Journal-Register and The Courier of Lincoln announced Monday that it is making a $1 million donation to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation in the name of the newspapers' publisher, Patrick Coburn.

"I am proud to announce that my company, The Copley Press Inc., has pledged $1,000,000 to the foundation supporting the museum," Copley's owner, David Copley, wrote in a letter to Richard Norton Smith, the presidential library and museum's executive director.

"(Coburn), the publisher of The State Journal-Register, is vice president of The Copley Press and has spent his entire 38-year journalism career in Springfield. His dedication to the city and to its legacies, especially the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, is deep and abiding."

The foundation hopes to raise $50 million over the next several years to support the library and museum, said Susan Mogerman, chief operating officer of the foundation.

"The endowment would be able to pay in the future to provide new programming such as traveling exhibits, temporary exhibits, speakers, conferences and educational programs," she said. "Those are the things that keep people interested in an institution like ours and keep them coming back."

Mogerman said there have been a handful of similarly sized donations to the endowment. Every donation helps the library and museum's future, she said.

"A million-dollar contribution is an incredible and wonderful vote of confidence in this institution," she said.

The Copley donation will be recognized in the naming of the replica of the White House in the museum.

Mogerman added that it's fitting the contribution is being made in Coburn's name because of his involvement in the project.

"He's been a supporter. He's on the board, and, sure, he's been very supportive of the project for a very long time," she said.

Coburn said he's thrilled with the donation because it's a sign that the Copley company, which is based in La Jolla, Calif., is interested in investing in Springfield, as it has with other projects such as the Hoogland Center for the Arts, the Elijah Iles House, the YMCA and Lincoln Memorial Garden, among others.

"He couldn't have picked a better thing to give back to the community," Coburn said of David Copley. "The library and museum is going to change the face of this community more than anything I can think of since I came here in August 1966."

Coburn said it was "not a hard sell" to get Copley to consider a donation. In part, that may be because of the family's interest in American history - especially that of David's father, the late James Copley.

"There are some Lincoln artifacts in the James Copley library in La Jolla. We own the Lincoln Depot - the Great Western Depot - and we operate it as a tourist attraction free of charge," Coburn said. "There is a connection there, and David is carrying it on."

In the letter to Smith, Copley wrote that "the history of Springfield's newspapers cannot be told without reference to the city's most famous son." He pointed out that a Lincoln quote, "The Journal paper was always my friend," is featured prominently on the newspaper's masthead, so it's fitting that The State Journal-Register be associated with the library and museum.

"We have published newspapers in Springfield since 1928 and look forward to being a part of the community far into the future," Copley wrote. "The library and museum will help ensure for Springfield a future even richer than the legacy the institution so vibrantly celebrates."

Sarah Antonacci can be reached at 788-1529 or

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