Monthly Archives: October 2010

Ghosts in the Parlor?

As readers of Past is Present are already aware, the Society’s Graphic Arts department is currently immersed in cataloging illustrations in our collection of gift books for the Prints in the Parlor project. Because the season of ghosts and goblins is now upon us as we near the end of October, we have been ...

Scraps of the Past

Scrapbooking is quite the popular hobby today, but it’s hardly a new idea.  People have been compiling images, memorabilia, and the written word since these things existed.  While exploring yet another of the American Antiquarian Society’s hidden gems, I found we have a wonderfully rich scrapbook collection. The collection of scrapbooks at AAS is currently at ...

Oh, Alice…

As it says on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” and the newly-found abandoned line “…your unwanted editions, pages uncut, spines unopened, loathed by your authors and deemed unworthy cultural capital by your countrymen…” Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what it says. Perhaps the line’s lack of poetic ...

Turkey Time!

While Thanksgiving is still more than a month away, it’s never too early to begin planning.  And since this year I will be hosting my first Thanksgiving, and cooking my very first bird, I thought I’d begin to look for some advice from the past.  We all have our passed down recipes from family members ...

A little ditty about sheet music

One of the hidden treasures at AAS is its sheet music collection.  The collection numbers about 60,000 pieces of music, all printed before 1880, including instrumental, vocal, secular and religious music, by both American and foreign composers.  You might be thinking, I can’t read music, what’s in it for me?  The sheet music collection is ...

Ballots at AAS

With Election Day fast approaching, it seemed like a good time to have a look at the Society’s holdings of American election ballots. This is a collection of around 700 mostly New England imprints, dating from about 1815 to the 1880s.  Most of the ballots are small in size and are arranged by political party, ...

The Torturous Tread-mill

Ever feel like running on a tread-mill is some kind of horrible punishment?  Turns out, it is!  According to a pamphlet titled The History of the Tread-Mill by James Hardie (1824), the tread-mill was first invented as a form of labor for prison inmates.  The tread-mill had a dual purpose, in that it was used ...

Book-Buying in Baltimore

Sarah Arndt, PhD Candidate in History at Trinity College, Dublin, describes one of the treasures she found during her recent fellowship at AAS. Have you ever wondered what your shopping receipts say about you?  What sort of conclusions would someone make about you by examining the sorts of food, clothing or books you purchased?  Recently, I ...

The Acquisitions Table: Cuban Newspapers

The History and Adventures of Little Eliza

Diario del Gobierno de la Habana. Aug. 11, 1812. One of the gems of the AAS newspaper collection is its Caribbean newspaper holdings. During the summer of 2009, we took advantage of an opportunity to purchase almost 130 issues of early Cuban newspapers.  The titles, dates, and number of issues we acquired ...