Monthly Archives: February 2011

Exhibit: American Heart Month à la 19th Century

Luckily, the American Antiquarian Society does not collect in all areas of human condition and experience. An example of such an area? Internal organs. What we do have, however, is a rich collection around this object of study. And whereas February was American Heart Month, an opportunity in the calendar year to focus on the well-being of what ...

Fraud Week, Part 4: Downright Theft–or is it?

If we’re to believe iconic popular culture films like Christian Slater’s 1990 Pump Up the Volume, media and information pirates act as heroic rebels fighting an overbearing FCC and even more overbearing parents.  If we’re to believe historians like Adrian Johns, author of the recently published Piracy and Death of a Pirate, piracy has fostered ...

Fraud Week, Part 3: Funny Money

Deborah M. Child (www.deborahmchild.com) has been at AAS for the past month researching her upcoming book on Lyman Parks (1788-1872). Parks’ forged bank notes were so accomplished that even the experts could not tell his notes from legitimate currency. Part of Fraud Week on Past is Present, Deborah's post below gives ...

Fraud Week, Part 2: Will the Real George Washington Please Sign Here?

George Washington portrait

We are kicking off Fraud Week on Past is Present with a big one: forgeries of George Washington's handwriting.  The choice of subject is particularly apropos since today is Washington's birthday and, not surprisingly, the American Antiquarian Society has many Washington-related items, including: over 2,600 books, pamphlets, periodicals, and graphics related to George Washington listed in ...

The Acquisitions Table: A Sketch of the Life and Public Services of William Henry Harrison

Jackson, Isaac R., d. 1843. A sketch of the life and public services of William Henry Harrison. Philadelphia, Jan. 1836. The Making of the President, 1840 style. By the 1824 presidential election, the printed campaign biography had become a key component of any serious presidential run. Hence when William Henry Harrison consented to run against Martin ...

Adventures of an American Classic

Historians of American life and culture have studied and argued about Mark Twain's use of dialect in his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn since the novel's U.S. publication on this date in February 1885.  Censors and bowdlerizers have made efforts to prevent students and others from reading the novel with its dialect intact.  From early ...

“Mother of the Valentine”: Esther Howland, Worcester, and the American Valentine Industry

Did you know that the American valentine industry started right here in Worcester in 1848?   That America’s first widely mass-produced valentines were designed by a woman named Esther Howland in her workshop on Summer Street?  That Victorians ate conversation hearts?  That Valentine’s Day greetings were part of a larger cultural debate in early America about ...

Finding Abraham Lincoln at AAS

Lincoln Cartoon

Abraham Lincoln is a hot topic these days.  From renowned historians to local students, everyone is interested in learning more about the man who once declared: “I was born and have ever remained in the most humble walks of life.” While Lincoln has been a perennial favorite for researchers at AAS, recently interest in ...

The Acquisitions Table: Sophia May Tuckerman Letters

Tuckerman, Sophia May. Letters, 1841-1857. Sophia May (1784-1870) was the daughter of Col. John May (whose jaunty portrait in military uniform hangs in the AAS reading room) and his wife Abigail, who was also his cousin. Sophia May married Edward Tuckerman (1775-1843). AAS has a business letterbook of Edward Tuckerman’s firm of Tuckerman and Rogers. Among ...