A modern day Isaiah Thomas?

Let’s turn our gaze for a moment from our work at the AAS to the West Coast, where Brewster Kahle has founded The Internet Archive.

Kind of like a modern day Isaiah Thomas, Mr. Kahle had made his fortune, and now wanted to use it, in part, to establish an organization that would seek to preserve aspects of the physical culture of his time for future generations to use for their benefit. The institution was initially started to warehouse and archive websites and online content as a kind of virtual library of the early Internet. Mr. Kahle has since expanded the effort to include physical printed material from the age of the Internet, and he hopes to house a physical copy of everything printed from that time.

Mr. Kahle was quoted in a recent article in The New York Times by David Streitfeld.  “We want to collect one copy of every book,” said Mr. Kahle, who has spent $3 million to buy and operate this repository situated just north of San Francisco. “You can never tell what is going to paint the portrait of a culture.”

We could not agree with him more, and we’ve been doing it for 200 years come October.

Published by

Matthew Shakespeare

Executive Vice-President for External Affairs, American Antiquarian Society

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