Monthly Archives: October 2009

Halloween Terror: The Glass-Eyed Ghouls

ghostly_eyes

In the mid 1800s, people began appearing with eyes so clear they were nearly invisible.  The ghostly faces stared straight ahead without a hint of shame in their alien faces. They haunt us still, following us from countless daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, and cartes-de-visite, warning us of a different time.  A fearful era when to be photogenic ...

One more thing about me…

25 Random Things

An online fad became a journalistic obsession with a late-winter craze known as “25 Random Things.” Members of the social networking site Facebook began crafting lists about themselves: personal histories, likes, and dislikes -- self-identified quirks describable in a sentence they then displayed for others to see. The only thing that seemed to equal the number ...

The Original Balloon Boy: Edgar Allan Poe?

balloon_hoax_model

Have you heard the one about the balloon boy? No, not that balloon boy.  On April 13, 1844, the New York Sun printed an extra edition reporting that man had finally flown across the Atlantic.  In a balloon. A postscript in the April 13th morning edition of the Sun taunted readers, We stop the press at a late hour, to ...

Baron Lecture Thursday Night

prelude_to_civil_war2

AAS invites you to join us in Antiquarian Hall at 7:30pm on Thursday, October 22nd for the 6th Annual Baron Lecture.  William W. Freehling, the Singletary Professor of the Humanities Emeritus at the University of Kentucky and Senior Fellow at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, will be discussing his 1965 work Prelude to Civil ...

Your Daily Dose

adams_john_quincy

What’s the world coming to? John Quincy Adams is tweeting from 1808  and our own anonymous blacksmith’s apprentice is blogging away right above these very words.  Following Adams’ debut on Twitter, one of the  librarians from the Massachusetts Historical Society explained that, “We want to get it out there to the technophile generation ... We ...

Sensational Images

faster_girl_cover

At parties, when people discover I work at the American Antiquarian Society, they often ask: what’s your favorite item in the collections? To my mind, this is akin to asking a parent to choose his or her favorite child. I’ve heard curators answer this impossible dilemma simply: whatever I received ...

Let them eat cake

Syllabub recipe

If one thing connects Americans over the centuries, it’s dessert. Vanilla may have replaced rose water, the electric mixer (even the egg beater) may be heavenly gifts from a sympathetic large-bicepped ancestor, but the recipes (and the tastes) are remarkably similar. The first cookbook published in America, Amelia Simmons’ 1796 American Cookery, offers recipes for ...

Cookbooks and calf heads

Brer Rabbit trade card

In 1952 the renowned chef Julia Child joined a book project to bring French cuisine into North American homes. As many movie-goers now know, she spent the next nine years working on the “dog-eared, note-filled, butter-and-food-stained manuscript” (My Life in France, 207) that would become the seminal Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The wearisome demands ...

Fellow finds horse’s head

horse headhorse head

One of the great joys of working on the far side of the reference desk is hearing the words we all love to hear from our researchers: “Look at what I found.” We always know we’re in for a surprise, and we plan to use this site to share these treats with you. (Be sure to read this one through to the end … it’s hilarious!)

Welcome!

Under its generous dome

For those of us who have the privilege and pleasure to work everyday with the remarkable collections of the American Antiquarian Society the past is indeed present. Whether we are selecting new acquisitions, cataloging collections, preparing web exhibits, processing photo requests, conserving materials that have seen better days, planning ...

Try tilting your head just slightly…

They represent a type of carnage we can’t even imagine. Today they would cause more than a few gasps. And, yet unable to rewrite this tragedy, we feast on the spoils. Okay, I’m being dramatic. But for archivists and librarians the idea that 600 cartoons were cut from Civil War era newspapers is ...