New AAS Videos Provide Primer on Colonial Printing

Have you ever wondered when and how printing arrived in colonial British North America? Who were these early printers, and what did they print? How did printing change throughout the course of the colonial period? What were early newspapers like? How were images produced?

You can find the answers to these questions and more in our recently launched suite of educational videos! These brief films were created as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute for K-12 Educators, “The News Media and the Making of America, 1730-1800,” held virtually this past summer.

Originally scheduled as an in-person program for the summer of 2020, this institute was postponed a year and shifted to a virtual format. One of the silver linings to this adjustment was the need to create new ways to share information about our collections with the twenty-five participants joining from all over the country. These videos were one of several ways we accomplished that.

In addition to being available on our YouTube channel, these videos have been added as a new section to an online exhibition, The News Media and the Making of America, 1730–1865, which was originally created in 2015 as part of a previous NEH Summer Institute. This exhibition broadly explores the interconnectedness of American news media, in all its formats, with changes in technology, business, politics, society, and community from 1730 to 1865.

To make these new films as useful as possible for educators and researchers, we also created a resource page for each one. These pages include the embedded video and links out to the catalog record for each collection item featured in the video, as well as digital images of those items if they’re available.

Follow these links to view each video and their associated resources:

“The When and Where of American Print Culture in the 1700s”

“The Who and What of American Print Culture in the 1700s”

“Printmaking in Eighteenth-Century America”

“American Broadsides & Ephemera Before 1800”

“The Format of Colonial American Newspapers”

“Some Characteristics of Colonial American Newspapers”

“Isaiah Thomas’s Printing Press at the American Antiquarian Society”

We hope you enjoy these films! As we consider ideas for future educational films, we encourage you to provide feedback on these and suggest topics. Drop a comment below or email us at with your thoughts!

Published by

Kayla Haveles

Outreach Coordinator, American Antiquarian Society

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