Adultery, crime, and the “professedly obscene”: The beginnings of book bans in the United States

Book bans and challenges have been on the rise in libraries and schools across the United States: according to the American Library Association, who have tracked book censorship since 1982, over 1,600 titles have been affected in 2022 alone. These challenges, whether for political, legal, religious, or moral motivations, illuminate a variety of the nation’s ...

Poetry (and Portraits) of the Past and Present

“The world is full of poetry, the air is living with its spirit, and the waves dance to the music of its melodies.” ~ James Gates Percival’s “Poetry” copied into Martha Ann Brown’s commonplace book from 1849. Please join us at the American Antiquarian Society this Thursday, November 17, at 7 p.m. (register here to attend ...

This Day in History: Great Chicago Fire Erupts

October 8, 1871 – On this day in 1871, the Great Chicago Fire erupted. The fire burned for two days, destroying buildings, claiming about 300 lives, and causing an estimated $200 million in damages. In all, the fire decimated a four-by-one-mile area of Chicago, including the city’s business district. The city quickly began reconstruction efforts, ...

In-person & Hands-on Early Worcester History, Featuring the Brown Family

Who and what springs to mind when you reflect on early Worcester history? Isaiah Thomas & his printing press? Major Taylor & his bicycle? Esther Howland & her Valentines? These classic Worcester historical figures will all be represented at AAS’s upcoming Chat with a Curator open house this Wednesday, but we hope many of the materials ...

Women’s History Exhibits at the AAS

While March has been federally and culturally recognized as Women’s History Month in the United States since 1987, International Women’s Day, celebrated globally each year on March 8 (which, coincidentally, is my birthday), has been around for well over a century. With roots in the suffrage and socialist movements of the early 20th century which ...

Tales from the Tombstones

This month AAS produced four short videos introducing collections related to gravestones and cemeteries in the United States. Old burial grounds are treasure houses of American sculpture and of historical and genealogical information. Documenting gravestones through rubbings and photographs became popular at the end of the nineteenth century, and the Society preserves several collections of ...

Artists in the Archive: Showcasing 25 Years of Artist Fellows at AAS

We love the moments when an artist fellow discovers something totally unique and profound relating to their research. Whether finding an outline of a pressed dandelion in handwritten poem, a children’s book on natural philosophy, the diary of a freed slave who in 1822 sailed to Hawaii as a missionary, or early photographs taken in Yellowstone National Park, these “ah-ha” moments often lead to an unfoldment of ...

The Caribbeana Project

Luke Henter is a senior in the History Department at Princeton University. He studies 19th and 20th century international history, with certificates in the History and Practice of Diplomacy and Creative Writing. He has also worked at the Princeton Historical Review and is a member of the Community Service Interclub Council at Princeton. ...

When Times are Tough, AAS Gets Going . . . on Transcription!

Staff at AAS have been sad and frustrated about Covid-19’s effects on our researchers, fellows, and fellow cultural institutions. Despite this hardship, we’ve been able to find some joy in our days and to feel connected to the collections we love by working on a staff-wide transcription of the first AAS donation book. For those of ...

Something Old, Something New: Updates on the Program in the History of the Book

In his October 1983 report to the Council, former AAS President Marcus A. McCorison outlined the founding of the Program in the History of the Book (PHBAC), an ambitious initiative that set out to unite four areas of the Society's work: collections, scholarship, fellowships, and publications.  In the same 1983 report, John Hench, then assistant director ...

Black Self-Publishing: A New AAS Research Project & Resource

Black Self-Publishing is a new collaborative research project from the American Antiquarian Society. The core of this site consists of a list I developed of books self-published by black authors within the scope of the American Antiquarian Society’s collecting period (origins to 1876). Studying self-publishing, occasions when an author pays for the printing of his ...

It’s All in the Details: Broadsides in Theodore C. Wohlbrück’s Photography

Long-time readers of the AAS blog know we have posted frequently here about Worcester-area photographer, Theodore C. Wohlbrück (1879-1936). We’ve been writing about the Society’s holdings of this artist’s work since 2010. AAS has a large collection. of photographic prints and glass plate negatives taken by Wohlbrück between 1900 and ca. 1910, including regional landscapes, ...

Hidden Histories and the Digitization of New England’s Earliest Manuscript Church Records

Jeff Cooper serves as Director of New England's Hidden Histories. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut and taught in the Department of History at Oklahoma State University. He is the author of Tenacious of Their Liberties: The Congregationalists in Colonial America (Oxford, 1999) and has edited, with Kenneth P. Minkema, The Sermon ...

A New AAS Illustrated Inventory: The Wohlbrück Collection

The American Antiquarian Society houses more than a thousand photographs and glass-plate negatives produced by photographer Theodore Clemens Wohlbrück (1879–1936) between 1900 and 1910. Since 2010, we have periodically highlighted different aspects of the collection on this blog, including information about Wohlbrück’s views of towns in Worcester County, his photographs of urban architecture, and a ...