Past is Present is taking a short break from our series of Adopt-a-Book posts to tell you about our favorite new resource on the AAS website.
Some of us at AAS embark upon irrevocable and unusual quests – like creating the “perfect” inventory.
While, arguably, it is an impossible task to encompass everyone’s inventory-needs, the Graphic Arts department’s latest foray – The Paul Revere Collection at the American Antiquarian Society – is an attempt to do just that.
Paul Revere’s works are fabulous. And AAS has even more reason to celebrate because our collection includes copies of most of his known works. Revere is important historically, culturally, socially, and economically – and he deserves to be seen in his entirety. But we understand that not everyone can make it up to Worcester to see his works. So we want Worcester, and the Revere Collection, to come to you.
Anywhere. Anytime. And to anybody.
The larger goal in designing this inventory was to cast a wide net and attempt to reach as many audiences as possible. In his time, Revere appealed to merchants, other craftsmen, patriots, book and music lovers, and readers of newspapers, to name a few. Illustrated online inventories are one way to democratize holdings and recreate that breadth in viewership. Therefore, our aim is to make collection materials available to teachers, students, scholars, collectors, artists, and anyone with an interest in historically significant works.
If you like detail-rich descriptions, we have those. Thumbnails? Those are there too. If you want to browse the collection visually by subject, you will find the items have all been tagged with multiple general-audience-friendly headings. If you don’t have your own reference copy of Clarence Brigham’s Paul Revere’s Engravings, we have copious excerpts of the text online available via PDF. If you are in need of a writing prompt to dive into the collection, we came up with some to get you started. Perchance, if you like to zoom in to see everything from the time on the clock to the flourish of a Chippendale, you can. If you have your own Revere(s) and wish to compare plate markings, you can download them in higher-resolution. And to all those who need an excuse to enter the AAS Online Catalog, we have canned links to the holdings record.
With other inventories, the compulsion has been to explain collection material elsewhere at AAS; one example is the D. C. Johnson Family Collection (where other Johnston pieces are in the Society’s political cartoon holdings, lithograph collection, plates in books and manuscripts, etc.) but in the Paul Revere Collection Inventory, we decided to store it in “one” space while maintaining it in its various curatorial collections.
In short, we “collected” it virtually.
As we wind down one inventory and gear up for another, the perpetual question always arises – what did we forget? What would make for a better inventory? So we ask you, what’s in your ideal inventory?