Ward Hill Lamon (1828-93) became a close friend of Abraham Lincoln when, as a lawyer in Danville, Ill., they were often associated in Vermilion County cases. Lamon accompanied Lincoln on his journey to Washington in 1861, and served thereafter as Marshall of the District of Columbia. After the assassination, Lamon as well as William H. Herndon undertook to write biographies of Lincoln. Lamon acquired transcripts of Herndon's notes which, with other sources, he used in compiling this book of "Memoranda for the Biography of A. Lincoln."
Beginning on May 13, 1870, Lamon made intermittent entries on about 71 pages of the book before he arranged for Chauncey Black to write, over Lamon's name, the Life of Abraham Lincoln (1872). The book itself was fortuitously saved from a fire of Black's papers in the backyard by his gardener and, in time, came to the Illinois Historical Survey.