Celebrating 100 Years, 100 Years Ago

As AAS gears up for the most momentous occasion of its bicentennial in 2012, I thought it would be fitting to take a look back in the AAS archives to see how we celebrated the first 100 years.  In 1912, the Society had just moved into its new (and now current) home at 185 Salisbury Street, Waldo Lincoln was serving as president of the Society, Clarence Brigham as librarian, President Taft gave a speech at the celebratory dinner, and the Red Sox won the World Series.  The library acquired 2624 bound volumes, 3455 pamphlets, 1864 unbound early newspapers, and 824 maps, broadsides and manuscripts.  I wonder what 2012 has in store!

Worcester Magazine recounted the events of the 1912 centennial in its November issue of that year as quite the event:

…the one hundredth anniversary of the American Antiquarian Society, observed on October 16 with exercises and ceremonies as impressive and dignified as befitted an occasion so important in the field of historical research work.

The festivities were apparently so extensive, “a volume, almost, might be written by way of introduction to the anniversary exercises.”  Festivities began with an opening reception in Antiquarian Hall, to which some thousand Worcester residents were invited.  Next was the annual meeting, with an address by Charles G. Washburn, which was followed by formal anniversary exercises at the First Unitarian Church.  Finally, President Taft made an appearance as guest of honor at the concluding anniversary dinner.  Other distinguished guests included Ambassador of Great Britain James Bryce, Minister from Peru Alfonso Pezet, and Senator Henry Cabot Lodge.

In his address during the centennial celebrations, President Lincoln described the strength and vigor of the Society as it reached its 100th year.  I think he would be proud to see how the Society has continued to grow, and age with grace, 100 years later.

The completion of one hundred years of existence by a learned society is no indication of approaching senility, but rather is like the coming of age of a young man about the enter with the vigor of manhood on the duties of life, and congratulations on the strength which has enabled a society to complete five score years are unmarred by any fear lest that strength may be but labor and sorrow.

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