Category Archives: Good Sources

Suggestions for interesting & useful collection materials

New Year, New Resolution

With New Year’s Eve fast approaching, it’s time to think about our New Year’s resolutions.  Resolutions are a wonderful way to reflect upon the past year, on the year to come, and attempt to bring about changes in our lives.  It’s in our nature to seek this kind of renewal – everyone likes a fresh ...

The Great Gliddon Mummy Unwrappings of 1850

While most people today are familiar with Egyptian mummies through various sorts of media — books, television, films, supermarket tabloids, museum exhibitions and the ubiquitous Halloween decorations —  people in mid-nineteenth century America did not have this same experience. To them, mummies were rare, mysterious relics, most often associated with the Biblical past, and few ...

Curwen’s Calendar, Part II

Last week I shared some letters from the Curwen Family Papers showcasing the change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar.  The colonies officially made the change in 1752, yet some letters in the Curwen Family Papers exhibited the switch previous to the official change.  Why the early appearance of these dates?  The change was ...

Prints for a Different Parlor

Disclaimer: This post contains adult content. If there are any children reading this blog, or anyone else who wishes to avoid the "hidden" side of the 19th century, this post isn't for you. But for the rest of our readers, we could use your help learning more about a new acquisition. The AAS curator of graphic ...

The only book you’ll ever need

According to its preface, A New Academy of Compliments: or, Complete Secretary “is a book full of variety, and many things not found in any other.”  Without a doubt, this is the most eclectic book to have crossed my desk during many years as a cataloger.  It begins with directions for composing letters using examples addressed ...

Curwen’s Calendar

The Curwen Family Papers represents one of the earliest collections in the manuscript department.  This collection, which includes material from 1637 through 1808, provides an insightful look into pre-revolutionary America.  Samuel Curwen, the main player in this collection, was a Harvard graduate, class of 1735, a trader in Salem, Massachusetts, and a Tory.  When his ...

Isaac and Ella

AAS intern Katrina Ireland (Simmons College GSLIS program) recently came across a wonderful letter as she was processing our collection of Isaac Shepard Papers.  Shepard (1816-1889) was a Harvard graduate and a commander of the 52nd US Infantry during the Civil War.  In addition to his military life, Shepard was also a poet, author, and a ...

Can You Read This Image?

Recently, I was catching up on cataloging the nineteenth-century editions of Isaac Watts’ Divine Songs given to us by the great collector of early American and English children’s books Wilbur Macey Stone (1862-1941).  One of them, a well-worn edition issued by New York publisher Mahlon Day in 1830, contains a mutilated frontispiece depicting this interesting ...

Henry Joslin on the Banks of the Potomac

Last week, Henry left us, and his mother, hanging.  His regiment encountered a skirmish, and although he was not harmed, Henry could not share the details until a few days later.  On Sunday, October 27th, he tells his mother about the encounter, and his swim to safety.  Below are some highlights.  You can read the ...

150 years ago this week: The saga continues

A few weeks ago, I shared a letter from Henry Joslin, a Civil War Corporal from Fitchburg, Massachusetts.  On October 20th, 1861, Henry was again writing home to his mother.  Below are some excerpts from the letter.  You can read the full transcription here. I suppose that before you get this you will have received the ...

Hannah Weld Part III

And now for some concluding thoughts from Jeanne McDougall about her encounter with Hannah Weld.  If you've missed the previous two posts about Hannah and her mother Mary, click here to get caught up. What can you say after experiencing such an extraordinary epistle?  My reading for the day came to a full stop;  any day ...

I Love Hannah Weld: Part II

Last week, AAS reader Jeanne McDougall introduced us to the Weld family.  Today, she continues exploring the mother and daughter pair, and examines their relationship and personalities through Hannah's letter. During the closing days of February 1799, Hannah would have had every reason to wish her daughter back home with her in Boston rather than far-off, ...

A slice of 19th century humor

masthead of Ohioan

The Amateur Ohion, published in Cincinnati, in January of 1878, like many amateur newspapers, contains a short humor column.  This little column contains a very odd little joke. It begins: Why is an elephant like a steamboat? We'd love to hear your guesses for the punchline! Send us your comments and we'll reveal the "correct" ...

I Love Hannah Weld

Over the winter, AAS reader Jeanne McDougall spent some time with our Isaiah Thomas manuscript collection.  While searching through the correspondence, she stumbled upon a letter from Hannah Weld to her daughter Mary Weld, who married Isaiah Thomas Jr.  Below, Jeanne describes her encounter with Hannah and Mary.  Jeanne's experience certainly demonstrates the serendipitous nature ...

150 years ago this week…

...a young man named Henry L. Joslin, from Fitchburg, Massachusetts, was writing home to his mother on September 24th. Henry, born in 1843, was serving in the Civil War and was working picket duty in Poolsville.  In his letter he describes his camp, what guard duty was like, and gives updates about his health, and other young ...

A Lesson to Procrastinators…

One way we add to our manuscript collection is through what staff and readers find within other collections at AAS.  Often we will find letters, notes, or other ephemera interfiled in books, periodicals and newspapers, and often it is deemed best to move this material into the manuscript collection.  These items are fun because, while ...

Shakespeare in the Parlor…and everywhere

As the Prints in the Parlor (PIP) Project begins its last leg of digitization and access to images generated, those of us involved with it find ourselves itching to pull together some of the results into conversation with one another. The reason for this is to show how these book illustrations, sometimes independent of the ...

California Gold

Although the majority of AAS’s manuscript collection is focused on New England, we do have collections that cover other parts of the country.  Our Book Trades Collection and Slavery in the US Collection, for example, have a national scope, and collections such as the Louisiana Collection and the California Papers are focused outside of New ...

Frankenstein Book

Recently we acquired an interesting new addition to our ever growing scrapbook collection.  In 1869, Mary H. Hill of Nelson County, VA, somehow got her hands on a salesman's sample book and proceeded to use it as a scrapbook for her favorite recipes over the next decade or so.  What makes her book stand out ...

The Cosmopolitan Lyceum

On September 23-24, 2011, the American Antiquarian Society will host a symposium titled "The Cosmopolitan Lyceum: Globalism & Lecture Culture in Nineteenth-Century America." This conference was organized by Dr. Tom Wright, of the University of Oxford. So what’s a lyceum, anyway? Throughout the nineteenth century, the lyceum—a scheduled public lecture that was intended to be both ...