July 28, 1866: 18 Year Old Girl Wins Commission to Sculpt Statue of Lincoln (A Truly Great American Woman)

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A Brief History

On July 28, 1866, Vinnie (Lavinia) Ream, an 18 year old girl became the first woman in the United States to win a commission for a statue, that of the recently deceased President Lincoln.  This statue became her most famous work, and it resides in the Rotunda of the US Capitol.

Digging Deeper

In true American fashion, she was born in a log cabin in Wisconsin in 1847.  She attended Christian College in Missouri, now called Columbia College.  She began her groundbreaking career as one of the first female US government employees, working at the post office.  While only 16 Abraham Lincoln posed for her for 5 months during the middle of the Civil War.

Her great statue of Lincoln took several years to complete, including travel to Europe.  Vinnie opened a studio on Broadway, but quickly moved back to Washington, DC and opened a new studio.  Her sculpture of Admiral David Farragut was cast in the Washington Navy Yard and resides appropriately at Farragut Square.  This woman of great talent played the harp to entertain her family at home.

Another great work of hers is the statue of Sequoyah, the Cherokee Chief that created the Cherokee alphabet.  The first free standing statue of a Native American, this statue is on display at the Statuary Hall in the US Capitol. George Custer posed for a bust, and Reams made a model of a statue of General R.E. Lee.  Another of her statues is on display at the Statuary Hall at the US Capitol, a likeness of Samuel J. Kirkwood.

Vinnie Reams died in 1914 and is buried with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.  She was honored with a US postage stamp and actually has a town named after her, Vinita, Oklahoma.  She was also the subject of at least 3 well known portraits of herself.

This remarkable woman certainly deserves more attention today than she gets, and should inspire girls everywhere.  Who else do you think is a neglected American woman?  Let us know, perhaps we can write an article giving them their due.

Historical Evidence

For more information, please read…

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About Author

Major Dan

Major Dan is a retired veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He served during the Cold War and has traveled to many countries around the world. Prior to his military service, he graduated from Cleveland State University, having majored in sociology. Following his military service, he worked as a police officer eventually earning the rank of captain prior to his retirement.

  • BB

    Very interesting article about a woman who never really has a name in history. Even though she did all of these great works, we never really hear about who she was. This article was the first time I had heard her name. It is somewhat shocking for the time that she was chosen to sculpt Lincoln. It would be interesting to hear more about how or why she was chosen. Unfortunately, she faces the same fate as many other women of her time, where they have major accomplishments but they are not really seen in history courses.

  • Craig Milby

    It’s interesting and sad that so many great people like Vinnie never even get mentioned in the history books, not even briefly. However, fictional stories, like that of Betsy Ross who may have been just lying about what they did make it in every edition of the books.

  • DM

    I agree that it is sad that Vinnie Ream is not mentioned enough in history but she is definitely not forgotten. Her statues will stand forever, she was buried at Arlington, she has a town named after her and even has her own postage stamp. I think that anyone throughout history would be happy being remembered in these ways.

  • Martha Bill

    Vinnie Ream is among many other women that have not gotten enough credit for their work. It is something my Genetics and Microbiology professor (Dr. Kessler) always made a point about it in learning about the history of different scientific discoveries. One woman that comes to mind is Rosalind Franklin. She was a scientists who was studying DNA under microscopes back when we knew very little about DNA. She found a pattern in the shape of her observations and was the first to voice how DNA is actually shaped. Watson and Crick stepped in, used the information she provided, and were the ones who received the credit. Their advances would not have been possible without her observations. Like Ream, Franklin is greatly overlooked in history. It is unfortunate we are not able to learn the complete history of our country and of major events because of the way society was set up when it all occurred.

    • Dear Martha, Excellent! I really like it when students can make connections among the various classes. I liked, for example, as a student when we would cover something in say Art History while also covering it in European History. Anyway, I am pleased when students see ways in which their various courses connect with each other. Best, Dr. Zarzeczny

  • Emily Danzig

    Wow, it’s really sad and unfortunate that so many women during that time period weren’t given enough credit for their work. However, as DM mentioned below, she has been given many memorials and was honored in many different ways. Although she wasn’t given as much credit as she deserved for her work, she left behind statues that will forever commemorate our countries history and major events of the past!

  • Megan Joyce Doran

    This woman is definitely a true American and should be mentioned in the history books. It kind of unfortunate that the only time we hear about women is when we speak of the movement towards women’s suffrage. As a woman myself, I strive for women’s empowerment and I believe it is only fair to give credit to women who go above and beyond.

  • Amanda McCay

    I agree with Emily that she did not receive much credit for her accomplishments. She was a very talented woman with skills in arts and musics. It is quite impressive all of the first she achieved like first female U.S. government employee and the first free standing statue of a Native American. I think that women like her should be taught in school’s curriculum.

  • Alexandra Bull

    It is unfortunate she did not get the credit she deserved! I have never heard of her before this article, but she sounds like an amazing woman. I’d be interested to learn more about her.

  • Ellyn Kilpatrick

    I love Vinnie and I am truly upset that I did not hear about her work prior to this article, and I’m an art history minor!

  • Jacob Pflugfelder

    How hard would it be to do a sculpture. I can’t even draw yet she can make a perfect Lincoln out of slate!

  • Parker Stricklen

    I always love hearing success stories of women during times like these when there was so much discrimination.

  • Erica Wheaton

    This women should receive more recognition that what she currently gets .

  • Kyle Puhl

    This story should be widely known. She accomplished some astounding feats and should be far more recognized than she is

  • lukas Biglin

    That is an awesome accomplishment for anyone in that time let alone and 18 year old.

  • Morgan McCarthy

    I wish I could have learned more about her in any of my history classes! That’s crazy to think that an 18-year-old girl created something this amazing.

  • Anna Ingles

    Wow, I am very impressed by her talent and accomplishments especially for being so young. It is unfortunate that she seems to be missing from American history.

  • Derek Reynolds

    i like how much recognition she gets for what she did. especially with how things were back then

  • Brendan E.

    What an accomplished life she lived. I would kill to be that successful. Very cool how she was able to do all of this in a time where inequality of women was still very alive.

  • Danielle B

    I have never heard of Lavinia Ream. It’s so nice to hear of empowering women from back then because not many received recognition. Ream has made some very impressive accomplishments and should be more recognized.

  • Meghan R

    As a woman, I always enjoy reading about the accomplishments of women from the past. I’m shocked that her work is not better known, and I feel that her art should have more recognition.

  • Brett N

    It is sad that I have never heard of her before when she has done such major things. People with such talent do deserve much more recognition. All of there hard work should be seen by the world.

  • Emmaline K

    As a woman, I am proud of this information enlightening people about the integral role this woman has played in history, but I am equally disheartened. Perhaps I live a sheltered life in historical information, but I don’t believe that Lavinia Ream is well known as the artist behind such a great work. If not for being a woman in a pioneering role, she should have won the public’s attention for accomplishing such a great feat at such a young age.

  • Amber Moore

    Wow, I love this story. Such a young girl, from humble beginnings, yet she achieved so much. She used her talents to do great things and I think that’s what we all are really trying to do in this world, if we ever stop to look past how much money we can make by doing it.

  • KC

    I am proud of this girl. She makes astounding accomplishments for the time period.

  • Madeline Bowen

    I’ve seen this statue several times in Washington D.C. but have never learned much about who created it. This girl has beautiful talent and is very inspiring.

  • Sarah G

    To achieve what she did in her lifetime is amazing. I looked at some of her other work and she deserves to have more recognition.

  • Diana N

    I didn’t know that there was such an amazing background behind the artist who created that statue of Lincoln. She has done so many amazing things as a young lady.

  • Ahmed Alnassar

    i think more people should learn about her. because i think she was a good example.

  • Raquel F

    I like how they honored Vinnie Reams and by burying with her husband at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • Morgan

    I think this chunk of history needs to be surfaced and known. It should be taught and known almost like everyday knowledge that everyone should know. This story is very under rated and more people should know about it. I personally have never heard anything about this until I read this story.

  • ryan C

    What made this girl so special to get a statue next to Ab Lincoin.

  • Nicole Z

    I have seen this statue twice in Washington D.C and I never knew she was the one who created it. It is a beautiful statue and more people should learn about her. When people learn about the statue they should also be taught who built it.

  • SW

    I love that Mrs. Ream is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, she truly left some wonderful art for us to remember some influential men.

  • Austin Miko

    It’s truly such a good story, and deserves more recognition today.

  • Amber Pope

    To have accomplished something so young in her life, and long before women were looked to as being just as capable as men, Lavinia was quite the pioneer for her time. Not only is it an interesting piece of history, but she did some amazing work. The statues are still standing and still revered years later, which is not something most artists can say.

  • Melody Ortiz

    I cannot believe that before this article I never heard of her before. I believe she did an amazing work and gets little credit of what amazing sculptures and famous sculptures today. Then again woman during that era were not recognized as they should be. I am very proud of what she accomplished especially just being an 18 year old girl. She should be an inspiration to many woman today!

  • Andrew R

    I love when I hear of young people accomplishing things at such a young age. I know I would have loved to accomplish something big when I was younger.

  • kk

    I can not even imagine trying to do this at age 18. But that would be something cool to do at such a young age and what an accomplishment.

  • Erika Grumbach

    It’s amazing how talented she was at 18 years old. I can’t believe I’ve never heard of her before reading this article!

  • BV

    I wish that I could do that by the time I was 18 but I’m so happy that she was able to complete what she did. I wish people appreciated women to their fullest because we deserve it too.

  • Isaac Talley

    It really make you think about what you are doing with your life. A young girl so much became known over the year. I wonder if Obama would hire a young person to do a portrait of him?

  • Sabrina Peelman

    Such an accomplishment at such a young age!

  • Kamarin R

    Fascinating how she completed something like this at such a young age.

  • Colton M

    She accomplished a lot in her life and it’s nice to see tribute to her on postage stamps for her great works.

  • Brandon

    This is great to see that she won this commission because she put a lot of hard work into this statue of one of best Presidents in US history at such a young age

  • Andy frick

    Amazing story. My sister is studying fine art. She will find this inspiring.

  • DW

    That is a great story especially because it sounds like she came from pretty humble beginnings.

  • Matt Smail

    hard work always pays off in the end, even when you think you are working hard, work harder and youll see rewards. in this case, she worked hard and got rewarded. inspiring.

  • Dakota A rinier

    It shows that anything is possible

  • Alex Hewitt

    She has accomplished so much at such a young age! very impressive!

  • ac

    She did an amazing job. What a great young girl.

  • Daniel deck

    She had a lot of talent

    • Loren deck

      My bad i posted with my middle name

  • Claire Fraser

    I have seen this statue and did not realize that it was made by the first woman commissioned to do a statue. She must have been a really talented artist to be picked for such a great honor at such a young age!

  • Mikayla Hutchings

    I believe this girl needs a lot more recognition! I have never heard of her or her sculpture before, yet it is such an amazing story. Not only was she the first woman in the US to win a commission for a statue, but she was also only 18! These stories are the history stories that I wish I would have studied in previous history classes.

  • Mike Andelbradt

    I had never heard of Vinnie Reams and that really is a tragedy. She seems like one of the most accomplished women of her time. I have seen some of her works and never knew they were connected with her!

  • Dana Roman

    I never knew that this statue was made by an 18 year old girl. While she did win commission and is an inspiration story for women, she deserves much more recognition for this well known piece of art.

  • Daniel Cora

    Ream did some remarkable work at a very young age. I think after reading several articles we see a lot of people, men and women alike, who have not received recognition or are not remembered for what they did.

  • Ellen Liebenguth

    I have been been to Washington D.C, but I never had the privilege to go inside and tour the Capitol building. I would have liked to have seen it! I think that it is pretty amazing that she accomplished so much at such a young age and travelled so much as well, especially in a world where women were still not completely considered the equals of men.

  • Matt E.

    Vinnie was a gifted young person. She lived a remarkable life being able to meet with some of our country’s greatest heroes.

    Also, considering how busy he must have been, it is incredible that Lincoln posed for five months.

  • Alexander Correa

    I have never heard of this girl before and I think that is a problem not knowing more females that have done great work in the past. Ream was obviously very talented and her work should not go unheard of.

  • Lauren Synek

    This women seems to be simply amazing. She accomplished so much in her life and completed two firsts in her life time. Vinnie Reams was one of the first female US government employees and was also the first to create a free standing statue of an African American. She lived in a time when it was not popular for women to be successful on their own, but she proved to have a real talent and ambition.

  • Matt Grazia

    What a remarkable young women. The sculpture she created of Abraham Lincoln was simply amazing, and it is crazy how long it took her to complete it. You can not rush perfection! She seems like a very talented and amazing women.

  • Maria Ndini

    Reading about “the first woman that…” always makes me smile and motivates me. She was one of the first female US government employees and the first woman to win commission for a statue. What an honor! I bet many men, envied her for being this successful and having the honor to have Lincoln pose for her at only the age of 16. I wonder if she ever knew that her sculptures would still be preserved, admired and talked about by people today.

  • Morgan price

    This story about Vinnie is really inspiring. It’s interesting that’s she was the first government employed female and she worked at the post office. I can’t imagine the discrimination she faced as a woman accomplishing so much. It’s sad that she doesn’t get the recognition that she may deserve.

  • Frank F.

    The patience that Vinnie had to have to sculpt a statue of Lincoln that took several years to create. Such great art goes into on of these statues and especially the importance being Lincoln. Vinnie being a female was given great opportunities with not only one statue but two of very important figures in the old world.

  • Amanda Lopuchovsky

    Although artistry does not seem like a category that would boost up women, this is exactly what Vinnie did! Not only did she get to use her skills to memorialize some great American heroes, she was also the first women employee of the government. That is a feat that would inspire many women to push gender boundaries.

  • Nicholas Mog

    Vinnie showed tremendous patience while sculpting her works of art. She worked for months on end to finish some remarkable sculptures. The fact that her artwork is on display in the U.S. Capitol is awesome.

  • Hannah Grazia

    Wow, what an incredible sculpture to be made by an 18 year old. She must really have some talent and patience to have completed that, as well as many other prestigious sculptures. What an honor to be the first women in the United States to win a commission for a statue, especially at her age!

  • Mark Baniewicz

    People had to be surprised to hear that for the first time ever a woman had received a commission for her works. This probably occurred each time from this point on that a woman broke the gender barrier that made them inferior to men. Vinnie Ream made a remarkable achievement.

  • Alexandra

    I think it’s great that such a young girl had this type of artistic opportunity. She definitely proved herself!

  • Christina Hickey

    It is interesting that she started working at a post office and then started making her sculpture. It would seem that those two ideas would not cross each other. What is really shocking is she was 16 when she started the Lincoln sculpture.

  • Peyton Elliott

    This was a huge milestone in our history and it’s even cooler that she was only 16 when given this task. She seemed very talented, even created the first free standing statue of a Native American.

  • Joshua Dzurko

    Another young girl who succeeded in achieving the American Dream. I could not imagine being that young and having so much success with highly political figures of her day. What an inspiration to everyone.

  • Robert Kratman

    Hard to believe that this is the first time I have heard of this extraordinary person and woman. To answer the question posed by this article, Martha Cannery, known as “Calamity Jane,” was a woman who defied the stereotype between men and woman showing that she could do anything a man could. She was known as one of the deadliest shots in the west and know an one of the bravest riders. I suggest that anyone research her a little, very interesting story.

  • Erin Kochan

    I wonder how Vinnie received the privilege of doing a cast of Lincoln. Sixteen is so young to be starting a career, but she was so talented that she continued doing what she loved and made casts of other famous leaders throughout her life.

  • Nikos Nacopoulos

    This was an interesting article. She was very lucky to be chosen at only 16 years old to sculpt Lincoln. I like that she went on to sculpt other important figures and it is nice that she was recognized for her talent by displaying her works in the Capitol.

  • Justin Puccetti

    I find it amazing that in a time of gender segregation, they were willing to give such an important commission to a woman, and a 16 year old at that. It shows that she must have been extremely talented in order to sculpt President Lincoln.

  • Brandon Simpson

    I find it neat how she also did different sculptures other than Lincoln, but was surprised they gave her this role during a time of gender inequality.

  • joe leary

    I had no idea who made the sculpture of Lincoln before. It is truly amazing to find out that a young female sculpted Lincoln.

  • MP

    The most interesting thing about this article was that the young women actually sculpted the Lincoln statue! I would have never thought that someone so young would have ever had the idea of doing that,

  • CM

    This is very impressive for this young girl to have done.

  • SR

    I had no idea a young girl had created such a well known statue

  • LF

    I think it is amazing that Lincoln would let this young lady sculpt a statue of him in the middle of the civil war

  • MM

    What really shocked me was the fact that Lincoln posed for this young lady for 5 months! What was he doing during the war and how often did he have to sit still if this took 5 months to create? It’s really amazing to think what she accomplished at such a young age, aside for Lincolns status such as the one she also created for Sequoyah.

  • MT

    It is amazing to believe that so much talent could be held by a 16 year old. And that talent would go on to make a statue for Lincoln himself. During this time of gender inequality it is amazing to see what this young girl accomplished.

  • Tim Burris

    its crazy to think back then when women weren’t really equals she had accomplished so much at a young age.

  • GF

    glad to hear that a WOMAN at the young age of 16 was privileged enough to have the opportunity to do this and contribute to history.

  • CL

    During a period of gender inequality its amazing to see that this young woman could have accomplished such a monumental task.

  • BS

    Vinnie Ream should be an inspiration to women everywhere. Not only was she successful in the art field, but she also attended college in a time where women rarely furthered their education.

  • Kody

    Vinnie is a model for women everywhere in the world. She showed that in a time of extreme gender inequality, she was able to complete a big task and also get recognized for it.

  • TC

    Surprising but very pleasing that a 16 year old girl could get her name out there and get a task of such sort during this time of extreme gender inequality

  • Michaela Ping

    In an age of 3-D printing, it is truly astounding how a girl of 16 can do by hand what technology does for us today.

  • EK

    I think it’s awesome how a young girl still serves as an inspiration to girls around the world today!

  • mason saunders

    weird how girls weren’t allowed to vote yet she was allowed to be so close to The President for so long.

  • MM

    It’s awesome how many accomplishments she has. From working with the President to furthering her education when most women wouldn’t, she has the drive and will power to really get anything done. Props to her!

  • JO

    Its amazing how she is one of the first girls to work in the government.

  • AA

    Viinnie Ream isn’t just an inspiration to women, she is an inspiration to all. In a period of segregation, she not only accomplished far more than what a lot of people did, she did it at a young age too!

  • VV

    I tip my cap to her for all the accomplishments she has, a true inspiration.

  • Allison Lester

    I believe that her story contributes greatly to the uprising of women’s rights. She not only was the first woman in the United States to win a commission for a statue, but she also was the first US woman to work as a government employee. -Allison Lester

  • AM

    I look up to Vinnie for being the first woman employed by the U.S Government. This was a great accomplishment for her time. And it hits home with me, as my mother works for the post office as well. I think her sculptures are very well done and impressive.

  • Reilly

    i saw this statue when i went to DC. So cool to see its backstory!

  • Paula Wollenslegel

    It’s great to know that women back then still tried and some did succeed. It gave women motivation to do more. I wish this was more popular so people could see where it all started.

  • Kelynn Heckman

    Incredible work for someone so young.

  • David Birkbeck

    Several years for one great statue wow that is a lot of time.

  • Kayla Fox

    It’s a shame that Vinnie Reams did not have more of a spotlight throughout the years, considering she seems like one of the most accomplished women of her time. She is a true artist and should receive much more credit than has been given!

  • SG

    Never knew the Lincoln statue was made by a woman but I am greatly please to know that it was.

  • Samantha Didion

    I’m surprised to hear that the Lincoln statue was made by women nor did I know that the woman who created was honored on a postage stamp. I wish we learned more about these minor things too.

  • JT Siurek

    This goes to show that everything we see has its own history. Most people don’t know the story behind the statue, but that was really cool to hear.

  • Abeer

    It interesting to me read history about another country.

  • lm

    its cool to see the history of women and what they did but its to bad they didn’t get more attention

  • Jacob Oswalt

    I didn’t know until now that a women had created the statue of Lincoln and that she was first women in the U.S. to win commission for a statue.

  • Nic V

    Amazing to see a girl as young as 16 years old be that effective and inspiring to everyone in the world.

  • Katelyn Sowers

    I think it’s amazing that even way back in this time that can be so highly recognized, I think that there should definitely be more praise for her now, just because she could be a great inspiration.

  • Allison Skerkavich

    Pretty amazing that she was that young and that talented

  • Nicholas Hillyer

    Pretty cool to think that a women actually got this honor based upon how few rights they had back then.

  • Dakota Zimmerman

    Think about the 18 year old girl that has made an icon that has affected millions of americans lifes

  • Lori Caudill

    Such a great accomplishment for a young female. Her statue is well know, unlike her story.

  • Lydia Ott

    For an 18 year old girl to receive a grant to sculpt a statue for Lincoln during this time had to empower a lot of woman. Also, to be recognized as a female artist would have been difficult during this time because men were viewed as superior which shows how talented she really was.

  • Audrey Manahan

    I think that it is great to hear about early accomplishments of women, and in this case a particularly young woman. At 18 years old this would have been a huge accomplishment and, even in this time, would have been admirable for a man.

  • Elizabeth Bon

    This was such a great story and information that is new to him. How appropriate that she grew up in a log cabin just like Abe Lincoln. He was such an amazing man and her sculpture of him is so finely done.

  • Jennifer Maurer

    Incredible. It is amazing to think of a young girl being offered the opportunity to showcase her talents like this. Putting it into perspective, too, it is remarkable considering the time involved and also the limitations on photographs, references, etc. She had really no choice but a live model and to think Lincoln could set aside enough time to sit for her to sculpt is tremendous.

  • Brandon Wagner

    Going back a few years ago to my trip with my family to DC, President Linclon’s statue still stands out as the highlight of my trip. I would have never known who was the increible artitist if I had not read this article.

  • Natalie antonio

    I think that it is great that a girl was being offered the opportunity to show off her talents. It puts our lives into perspective, it tells the girls of today to not give up on themselves.

  • Ben McClay

    The sculpts that this girl made are beautiful. They really remind me of something that you would see in the pro football Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

  • Shannon Read

    I have seen her sculpture of President Lincoln when visiting for a class trip in school. It was absolutely amazing to look at, but at the time I did not know who had created the piece.

  • Shuling He

    She was just so talent to make this statute when she was only 18 years old.

  • Kala Strong

    I think it is incredible that she completed this statue at such a young age. Since she is a women, I am surprised (and glad) that she got as much recognition.

  • Jingshan Jiang

    President Lincoln should always be respected by people. He was a great president cause he maintained human rights and opposed to race discrimination. The girl made the statue for president Lincoln. I think she did that because she respect him, too.

  • Diana Minich

    Vinnie Ream was young and talented. Amazing what she accomplished in a time when woman usually did not work outside the home.

  • Rose Jepson

    I’ve seen this statue in many pictures and never would have thought it was created by a teenage girl, especially in this time period. I’m glad she was highly recognized for her work.

  • Jordin Vidmar

    Vinnie was extremely talented for her age. This sculpture has been in my history text books before, so when I saw that this 18 year old girl made this sculpture, I was very taken aback. I think it is very beautiful. I would love to get a chance to see this in person.

  • Taylor Young

    After reading this article, I would have never known that a 18 year old made the sculpture. I have recognized it in many history books and it never phased me to think of who made it.

  • Alyssa Hanes

    It’s crazy to me that someone that is so young created such a beautiful sculpture and has such young recognition. Her accomplishments are some that many 18 year old sculptors probably wish for today. It’s nice to see a young woman respect Lincoln just like so many other people in society did and continue to do.

  • Daina Thomas

    I think the state is amazing regardless of her age. The sculpture shows pure talent. I’ve seen this sculpture many times, so it was cool to read about who made it.

  • Keagan Frey

    I have seen the statue all over the media, however, I never knew anything about the person who actually carved it. I would of never believed that it was a woman that Lincoln posed for especially at the age of 18.

  • Lessie Parish

    I have seen these statues in pictures but I never knew a woman carved them. I also did not know she had US postage stamps in her honor. She is extremely talented and deserves more recognition.

  • Kristin Fellure

    I love reading success stories of women that do great things in eras ran by men! When i think of famous statues it is natural to think a man did them, so it is cool that a women did this Lincoln statue!

  • Maxwell McCullough

    Truly a woman of many skills! And the fact that she was the first U.S. Government employee makes it all the cooler!

  • Montel Lollis

    I have to say i love any form of art ,and to see woman do it is a blessing ,to see they can handle craft such as man, ex like metal, brick , clay etc, and the masterpieces are history in the making score one for the ladies.

  • Breanna Beckley

    I think that it is very cool knowing that she was the first female to win a commission for a statue!

  • Azia

    Great article and I do think she should get more attention for her accomplishment.

  • Michaela Ping

    I love when female history is finally brought to life and I think that this girl deserves recognition for her talents.

  • Suzie M. Shaffer

    I never really thought about who made Lincolns statue or the time that went into it. I am amazed that it took five months and that during the Civil War Lincoln sat down for it to happen. This was probably Lincolns time away from responsibilities and worry, time to relax.

  • Travis Tarnowski

    I never really stopped and thought about who makes the statues you always see around to recognize other famous figures. It was interesting to read about this 18 year old that made her most famous work.

  • Courtney G

    I’ve never heard of her before which is surprising since she was one of the first women to be allowed to work in government. Women even had a hard time being artists back then so for her to be able to do both is quite astonishing.

  • Hunter Music

    It is extremely interesting that this women is not often used as an inspiration for young females because she was so successful at a younger age. I think another woman that is often forgot about in history is Coretta Scott King. Wife of Martin Luther King, she led the charge after Martin’s death for equality and is never mentioned nearly as much as her husband.

  • Alexis Dykes

    This woman deserves more recognition than what she gets. It is a shame that I have never heard her name before this article, but it is nice that light has been brought to her name.

  • Dan Sumpter

    I have never heard of her and really never had a clue who made these sculptures. Great read.

  • Cara Zang

    I was not aware a woman produced this sculpture and its amazing her creation is still being displayed today. I wish I could say its a shock that we are not familiar with her name but back then whether it was writing, sculpting, working, etc. women were not celebrated as talented. I do think it is great that she was awarded a commission on this sculpture because as I stated women were not celebrated for their talent.

  • Kay McCargish

    I have never heard or read this before. I wonder why these important facts are not shared with young children. Think of all the young girls and boys that would benefit from this knowledge!

  • Luke Lyden

    To think of the tools and equipment that they had in that time this Lincoln statue is amazing. It is very descriptive and has tremendous detail for someone who likely hand carved it out. Amazing how people got by doing the things we do today with less tools and resources.

  • Shannon Smith

    I agree with this article. I think Vinnie is defiantly under-recognized in the story telling of women’s history. She was a very talented woman who’s works still serve as a representation of our history. Her work on the Lincoln piece is flawless!

  • Chelsey Stillings

    WOW!!!! Where was this type of information when I was in High School. These are the types of articles that need to be shared with the generations today. Never even heard about this at all.

  • Jason

    To be so young and be awarded the privileged of sculpting President Lincoln. What an honor. This women seemed to be chosen from the start. So talented and young yet so beyond her years.

  • Dan Fidoe

    Impressive to have such talent and recognition at that age. The beginning of women in american history.

  • Kacey Kovac

    This is such a powerful story to read, especially being a young woman as myself. Vinnie is a prime example of someone that is fearless and doesn’t let her age define the level of talent that she exudes, which inspires young women like myself to work as hard as you can to achieve your dreams. I applaud her for her pure talent and work ethic since it took her several years to complete her projects!

  • Jared A. Hutt

    This was an interesting read. History is littered with people that time has forgotten, it is a shame that a young girl like this and her talent does not get more notoriety.

  • Jeffrey Keenan

    This is the first that I have ever heard of this very tenanted woman. After doing some additional research on her and her statue of president Lincoln, I have come to the conclusion that this particular statue is a beautiful masterpiece (I can see why it took years to complete). I truly believe that this woman deserves to have a town named after her (Vinita, Oklahoma). This was a very interesting story.

  • Nakia Bridges

    This article had me in total amazement, to learn that a woman built and designed the statue of the president Lincoln among all the other statues she built. It is truly sad that such a woman with great talent has not had the recognition she deserves. I have never heard about this. It was a interesting story and I learned something that I didn’t know. Even the fact that she has a town named after her is just amazing.

  • Jeremiah Linden

    I always wish I had the skills and patience to create such pieces of art like Vinnie Ream. She is a real artist that used her skills towards something useful and productive. It is also fantastic that she set a path for the woman in the world of equality and art.

  • Shaun Emerick

    I think what Vinnie Reams did was amazing. Another American Women who I think is neglected in our history books is Harriet Powers. Similar to Vinnie Reams Harriet Powers is known for her art. She is known as one of the most famous southern textile workers. She would make quilts that would tell stories through there images. One of her quilts actually resides in the Smithsonian today.

  • Christie Benton

    What a great story you never heard about, or at least I had never heard about. I love art and history and think what Vinnie Reams did was amazing. What an intrical piece of American History. How awesome would it have been to have spent so much time with Abraham Lincoln.

  • John Milton

    I had never heard of Vinnie Ream. Women in current society do not get as much recognition for what they do but never hearing of Vinnie Ream does sadden me that she is not being recognized to the scale of her accomplishments.

  • Juan Rodriguez

    This was a great article of incredible female sculpture (Vinnie Ream) who accomplish something that was un-heard off during the 1860’s. She was so young and yet was given the opportunity of a live time and she did a great job. Reams open doors for females that would not been open during that Era, because the world was dominated by males and females were not treated as equals during those times. I am surprised that she is not more famous or talk about in history because she accomplish something big during a time that it was not possible for female to accomplish an act like this.

  • Michelle Ross

    After visiting Washington DC and seeing the beautiful statues that are there, it is amazing to know that someone who young and a female was able to accomplish something like that during that time period. Females were already having a hard time doing things like that during that time period. I agree that she should be recognized more than what she is.

  • Sarah Marie Sykes

    I am really glad I had the opportunity to read this article, and learn about the artist of these great sculptures. It is interesting to learn about the talented women that are often missing from the history books and headlines.

  • jared good

    Vinnie Ream did amazing work on what she did. A remarkable woman and this should make other women to do the same. her statues were great and meant alot to our history.

  • Mackenzie H

    No-one has seen this in years. The marble statue of Abraham Lincoln. And good for Vinnie how she opened a studio on Broadway

  • Michael Tovissi

    Vinnie Ream did a great job on making the statues. It’s just weird that she’s not in many history books.

  • Misty Prosser

    Beautiful statue, so glad I was able to learn about her. I love learning of women in the early times stepping up into the light showing their talents.

  • Autum Grandstaff

    Can you imagine the conversations she probably overheard considering she spent 4 months of the Civil War with Lincoln. That would be so interesting to me. As well as the other iconic people she spent time with.

  • Angela Kessinger

    I have never heard of this artist and found the information interesting. Another neglected American woman that I feel has been influential in history but forgotten is Rosalind Franklin. Along with James Watson and Francis Crick Rosalind Franklin also played a large part in the discovery of what we know today as DNA. Rosalind Franklin died of cancer before her work and discovery about DNA could be released. James Watson and Francis Crick took all the credit for the discovery of DNA.

  • Adrian Lewers

    Some examples of neglected American females would be, Florence Nightingale: the founder of modern nursing, Clara Barton: founder of the red cross, and Margaret Sanger: founder of planned parenthood. All of these woman worked in healthcare which is the field I am devoted to. These woman deserve more recognition. Without health what is life?

  • Sean Merritt

    I really enjoyed this article. I never knew of this and it was awesome to see this and for it to be a female. Women don’t always get the fairness they deserve, and this is a great example of that because I was never taught or informed of this.

  • Rose Sexton

    I have never heard of Vinnie Ream but I will look further into her life. I am curious to know how she was able to get this honorable commission at a time when women were sought out for not much more than teaching school or becoming wives and mothers, in that order. She has inspired me to research and tell friends about her achievements.

  • James Cole

    First let me say that it was remarkable that Vinnie Ream was the first woman to win a commission for a statue of Abraham Lincoln along with another Civil War figure that would include General R.E. Lee. While having this talent, she was also the first woman to be employed by the Federal government. I completely agree that this woman should be remembered more in history along with other woman.

  • Payton Brown

    It is so sad that remarkable women like her go unnoticed in the world today. GE has a commercial out right now featuring Millie Dresselhaus that says “what if we treated female scientists like celebrities?” and I think that it is a beautiful message. Women and young girls should be looking to women like this.

  • james tomassetti

    I think it is remarkable that she was the first woman employed by the Federal government. It’s crazy to think about if women got the equality they deserved from the start how much further this country would be as far as leadership job advancement and technological advancement

  • Kyle Gelenius

    This was rather an interesting article. Vinnie (Lavinia) Ream was a talented artist at such a young age. What an opportunity it was for her to have the President of the United States pose for her, particularly when he was busy grappling with all the issues surrounding the Civil War. If you look closely at the statue of Lincoln, it has remarkable detail. It amazes me that the statue of Lincoln still resides in the Rotunda of the US Capitol. What a truly amazing woman!

  • Tiffany

    What an accomplishment for such a young girl, not only with her sculptures, but becoming one of the first females in a government job! She had talent and it is amazing that a handful of her pieces can still be viewed today. I find it interesting that the President took time, during the Civil War, to pose for such a long time. What significance did he see that propelled him to do this?

  • Jessica Kessinger

    Amazing to see that a young woman,of my age, not only had a wonderful accomplishment of creating her sculptures but also being one of the first females to have a governmental job. Never at my age would i think to do any of that. What an honor for her. I have never heard of her before until I read this article.

  • Robin Crandel

    Wow! This is amazing. Without this being required reading, I would have never taken the time to research the creator of the bust. What a talented young lady.

  • Michelle

    Very interesting! I didn’t know that a female made this sculpture!

  • McKenna Kapper

    I find it amazing and inspirational that a woman so young could make such a great contribution to art and history!

  • Jaisun

    She has to be one of the least-known women in American history. I’ve seen this statue before during TV shots at the U.S. Capitol, but had no idea the backstory behind the statue. What a surprise!

  • Ashley Betsa

    I never knew a female made the iconic sculpture along with others! Definitley a name that should not be left out of history! Especially, since she took a career as one of the first female government employees!

  • Jacob DeSmit

    As somebody who works with young students, occasionally in art classrooms, I think Vinnie Ream’s story should be shared more often with young artists. I was unaware of who made the famous statue of Lincoln, but it is great to read about American women who been recognized for their greatness, and I think young students would find her story inspiring.

  • Amanda Miller

    I didn’t know a girl was the one that created the statue of Abraham Lincoln. When I went to Washington D.C. I got to see that statue and not sure if my teachers said who created it, they might have that probably was when I wasn’t paying attention.

  • Marquita Smith

    I think that we could have heard more about Rosa Parks and even Harriet Tubman. I enjoyed finding out that the lady had worked for the Post office which I am currently working for.


    What talent and the fact that as a woman she was able to have such opportunities. She was recognized and memorialized on the postage stamp and her works are still on display today, I say that she does get attention. You just need to be interested in her work to learn who she is.

  • Yang Shao

    it was proud that she was becoming the first women won a commission for statue. The president Lincoln Statue became her famous work. She also is the first female who work for the U.S government.Her another great work is called Sequoyah,

  • MIA

    Isn’t Harriet Tubman supposed to be on the $20 bill? I wish I learned more about her during my high school years.

  • Patrick Barker

    It is interesting that she sculpted both an American president, and a Native American leader.

  • Justin Hodson

    Very interesting! So many things that we don’t learn about in school.

  • WenYu Zhang

    She must be very proud of herself that she was the first women who work at US government. I like how she was creating the great statue of Lincoln, it was pretty real.

  • MZ

    I am not 18 any more and nor have I ever sculpted a statue of Abe Lincoln.

  • BG

    I think it is very neat she was the first woman who worked for US Government at only the age of 18. And the statue she crafted was very well done.

  • AB

    This is amazing! I can’t believe I have never heard of her. This just goes to show that women can do anything they set their mind to.

  • Dani McBride

    This is such an inspiring story! Its crazy to imagine that at the age of 18, she became the first woman in the United States to win commission for a statue. I also find it incredibly interesting that at the age of 16, Lincoln posed for her for 5 months during the Civil War.

  • RB

    I’m really surprised that I have not heard of her before. I thought this was really cool and I can’t believe she was 18 when she sculpted these statues. She is very talented. She deserves to get more credit and for people to learn about her accomplishments.

  • Amanda Chahulski

    This was an incredible article to read, but also sad at the same time. This is not someone I have heard of before, which is what makes this so sad. I feel as though women who have such a significant impact on our history do not get near as much recognition as they should, and that isn’t okay. They are just as important as the men are, if not more important depending on what they do This woman had a talent that should be known to the world, and she should be talked about because it is important. And it’s too bad that this history will probably never be known.

    • We have quite a few articles about notable women and the accomplishments of women, as well as the struggle for women’s rights. Enjoy, and share with your friends if they are interested.

  • JG

    This article was very informative! I’m surprised I have never heard of her before, as she has sculpted many beautiful statues that pertain to such an enormous part of our history! she deserves more recognition!

  • Mary Van Scoy

    I enjoyed reading this article because I have never heard of Vinnie (Lavinia) Ream. We all grew up knowing Betsy Ross and her contribution to our country’s symbol and history in the American flag. It seems logical to consider as women were seamstress and upholstery apprentices when our nation was being established but statues seem like a more male dominant commission. It was wonderful to read about her talent, contribution, and historical significance in our American history.

  • Alexis Whitright

    I had never heard about this woman previously. I think it was very interesting and I agree that she deserves much more attention in today’s society than what they receives. I find it very impressive that this young woman made such beautiful art at only 18 years old.

  • AM

    It is incredible how much talent someone can have at such a young age. In addition, the fact that it took her years to complete the sculpture is crazy.

  • MT

    I love reading victory stories for women! The amount of work Vinnie dedicated to this statue (not to mention the amount of time it took to make) is incredible! I also found it interesting that she is honored by a US postage stamp. It was great to learn more about her.

  • AB

    I have heard of her before, but I have not heard of all the works shes completed. I’ve only known her for Lincoln. Its amazing thinking that not only can an 18 year old do these things, but become widely recognized as a masterful artist.

  • SB

    A young woman such as Vinnie Ream, gives me a lot of hope as I get older as well. Even in a time where women were not as respected as they are now, she managed to make something of herself.

  • CJ

    This is a very interesting bit of information as I had never heard of Vinnie or her works before. I feel that she should get much more recognition for being such a success in such a time when women were not very respected. She was quite successful and talented for as young as she was.

  • De Vaughnte Askew

    Living in Washington D.C a few years ago, I would see many sculptures of influential people of American History. I have seen some of which is brought up in the passage, and they are very beautiful!

  • JJ

    I find it fascinating how there are people like this who get forgotten and then lost in history.

  • NTM

    I love this article! Inspiring women need to be appreciated and complimented for all the work they do. First Lt. Ashley White Stumpf is a neglected American women. She was one of the first ladies to be on the front lines of battle and work beside the rangers in Afghanistan. In relation to this article, what her and her troop did was really a piece of “art”- included love, communication, and fierce work. It involved communicating to the Afghani women and children to find out the enemy’s attack against us!

  • Dylan Winkel

    The fact that she has sculpted people that have impacted U.S. in some way is just amazing! She sculpted the statue for the indian that invented the Cherokee alphabet.

  • AP

    This is an amazing article and I agree Reams deserves much more attention and publicity than she gets because I haven’t even even heard of her. But I see how this article can be very inspiring to young women as it should be! The statues are beautiful and she did great work that is worth much more recognition.

  • HM

    I have never heard about this before. I find it amazing that someone so young can do such amazing work. And then for five months, when she was 16, Abraham Lincoln posed for her. This most have been such an exciting experience.

  • MC

    What a talented young woman! It is amazing that her sculptures are still around today and that they have made such an impact on Americans, even though she is not given the recognition and attention she deserves.

  • HD

    I’m surprised I’ve never heard of her before, which goes to show how little attention women had in the past. Clearly she had an amazing talent and played a large role in American history and deserves to be known.

  • KD

    I’m surprised they gave someone so young such a huge task, let alone a woman. She definitely did not receive the credit she deserved.

  • CY

    It is very impressive the work she has done, and that it is so well known still today. It is very inspiring to hear her story, especially from the time period that she lived in. I am surprised with all of the tours today that they do not speak of who made statues like that.

  • Abdulaziz

    I’m truly astounded that I have not known about her some time recently. I thought this was truly cool and I can’t trust she was 18 when she shaped these statues. She is exceptionally skilled. She should get more credit and for individuals to find out about her achievements.

  • AC

    It is truly incredible the work she was able to complete with such talent at the mere age of 18. It truly is a shame she did not receive more recognition for her accomplishments. I also found it interesting how she had been honored with a US postage stamp.

  • ES

    The Lincoln Statue took many years to complete. That statement amazes me. I don’t think I could spend multiple days working on an art piece let alone years! It makes me wonder if during that time she got so frustrated and wanted to give up before it was finished. Or if she remained calm the whole time and was actually upset that it was finished because she couldnt work on it anymore. Whatever the answer may be, an amazing piece of art work came out of it.

  • KM

    I am very impressed that she was able to accomplish all that she did at the young age of 18. You can tell how dedicated and detail oriented she was by how long it took her to complete the statue.

  • EB

    It’s awful that people can be so important but then aren’t remembered how they should.

  • ML

    I think it is inspiring that this woman was only 18 when she started the statue of Lincoln. The Lincoln memorial is one of my favorites and its fascinating to now know who had made it.

  • Alexis Mount

    I found it interesting that such a young person, let alone a young woman, sculpted such an iconic piece of historic artwork. I also thought it was crazy that Lincoln posed for this statue for 5 months.

  • JH

    I think that it is amazing that she was able to get Lincoln to pose for her with her being a 16 year old artist. I also cannot believe that he posed for her for 5 months. Side note, Lincoln is my favorite president ever, so any interesting facts about him I really enjoy!

  • Sage Bourdess

    This is crazy ! Such a young WOMAN creating all of these sculptures, I had no idea! Really cool.

  • Hailey Lockwood

    This article was such an inspiring story about a young woman. It was a great accomplishment of hers to get a president to pose for her.

  • NN

    It is incredible that she was able to compete with such talent at the mere age of 18 and it is sad that she did not receive more recognition for her accomplishments.

  • Hollis Marie

    I see this as being very empowering. She took what she loved and did something with it, but I feel bad that she was not given the credit that she deserved. I feel as if more women new about these women of our past we can use it to empower ourselves.

  • Alex Leighton

    It would feel like such a great honor being a young,18-year-old woman and getting commissioned to do a sculpture of a President of the United States..

  • mengting zhang

    She left a deep impression and is still known to this day. I was interested in hearing her story, especially during her life. But I regret that she did not deserve the honor. I think her efforts have brought many people back to the role of women. More equal and free.

  • Leslie U

    She was 18 years old, sculpting presidents and other higher figures of power, yet here I am at 18, lacking drawing skills!

  • burton roberts

    I did not know there were people buried in Arlington National Cemetery who didn’t have a connection to the military. It is very impressive for this young lady to be commissioned to make such important statues.