The American Antiquarian Society
At the American Antiquarian Society, we are infinitely proud of the scholarly, nose-to-the-book (or newspaper, or graphic art, or manuscript) work that goes on in Antiquarian Hall, but we invite you to take a minute and enjoy the lighter side of our people and collections.

AAS is a national research library located in Worcester, Massachusetts, with unparalleled collections and programs to support the study of early American history, literature, and visual culture. Our goal is to collect, preserve, and make accessible one of every item printed through 1876 in British North America, or what became the U.S., Canada, and the West Indies. If we don’t have it, we want it! Yet our collection goes beyond just typeface to welcome the handwritten word, the artist’s paint stroke, even the engraver’s stipple.

On a daily basis, the people of the AAS are amazed, amused, and occasionally disturbed by the different ways early Americans committed their world to paper. One of the greatest strengths of our fellowship program is that researchers from around the globe, working in diverse disciplines (history, English, art, creative writing, archaeology, etc.), live together across the street from Antiquarian Hall. During their lunch hour and after being forced out of the reading room at 5 p.m., they gather together and discuss their research, insights, and the really exciting things they stumbled upon that day. Sometimes the staff is even lucky enough to join in. We offer Past is Present as an opportunity for everyone to participate in the discussion!

This blog provides a virtual platform to highlight AAS’s antiquarian treasures (and oddities) as well as to share helpful resources, programs, and events. We hope you will become more familiar with the congenial intellectual community AAS fosters and maybe learn something new in the process. New content will be posted regularly, so please check back again soon or subscribe to our RSS feed or email updates so you won’t miss a thing.

Other Websites
If you enjoy Past is Present, try these other sites associated with AAS:

Commonplace.online is a common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture. A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks–and listens–to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900.

find_us_on_facebook_badge You can become a friend of AAS by visiting our Facebook page. There you can find images of collection material, updates about programming, and news about AAS projects.

instagram iconIf you like our blog posts that feature a lot of images of collection material, then our Instagram account is the place for you. Great images with short contextual blurbs provide unique insight into the collections.

Read more about and from our blog contributors by visiting our archives. Contact information for staff members can be found in the staff directory on the AAS website.


13 thoughts on “About”

  1. Hello,

    My name is David Stockdale. I’m an image researcher for Muse. We’re a science publication for children ages 9-14. I’m doing some research regarding an old flyer , found here:


    We’re interested in using this image for an article about E.P. Weston for our November/December 2014 issue. We’d like to request permission for this. Can you please get back to me at ? Thank you for your time and consideration.


    David Stockdale
    Permissions Specialist
    Creative Compliance
    ℅ Cricket Media
    70 East Lake Street, Suite 800
    Chicago, IL 60601
    Phone: 1-312-701-1720 (ext. 356)
    Fax: 1-312-701-1728

  2. Link to RSS feed leads to description of Feedburner, apparently designed for bloggers, not subscribers. I saw no way to sign up for feed. I prefer to get simple email notices of new posts with a link, as the majority of blogs seem to use these days. Is this possible for AAS?

    1. Annie,
      If you click on the email icon in the right sidebar near the top of the page, that will bring you to a page where you can sign up for simple email notifications. If this doesn’t work for some reason, please let us know.

  3. May I please use your picture of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert with their Christmas tree in 1848 to illustrate my history column, ‘Remember When,’ published in our small local paper, the Intertown Record?
    Thank you,
    Sherry Thomas Chomitz

  4. I have a question regarding your print on this website, “God Bless Our home”, 1873, Cromo-Lithographed and Published by L. Prang & Co.
    I have a print which belonged to one of my ancestors. It states on the back,”Prang’s Floral Mottoes No. 21
    After Mrs. O. E. Whitney. BLESS OUR HOME, No. 3.”

    Do you have any idea how much this print might be worth?

    1. Donna,

      AAS is a research library and cannot provide values on historic material. You might wish to contact a dealer in historical American prints, such as the Old Print Shop in New York, or the Philadelphia Print Shop, and see if they can help you. Alternatively, have a look on the online auction websites, such as eBay and Heritage Auctions, to see what other Prang material has sold for in the past.

  5. Hello,

    I have some informations about 2 folders contained in a box of “The David Claypoole Johnston family” (from http://www.americanantiquarian.org/Inventories…), which, I believe, could be interesting for the management of the collection. Where (to whom) can I post these informations???
    Kind regards,
    (from France)

  6. Hi AAS Team,

    My name is Anuj Agarwal. I’m Founder of Feedspot.

    I would like to personally congratulate you as your blog Past Is Present has been selected by our panelist as one of the Top 50 American History Blogs on the web.


    I personally give you a high-five and want to thank you for your contribution to this world. This is the most comprehensive list of Top 50 American History Blogs on the internet and I’m honored to have you as part of this!

    Also, you have the honor of displaying the badge on your blog.


    1. Thank you for notifying us of this! We’re very happy to have been chosen to be part of this list of our peers and very much appreciate the recognition.

    1. What an interesting story! Our collections, however, only cover through 1876, so unfortunately this is outside the scope of our work. But thank you for sharing and good luck!

Comments are closed.