‘To Which is Added’: The History, Structure, and Conservation of New England Primers at the American Antiquarian Society

In the summer of 2023, while completing my MA in book conservation at West Dean College in Chichester, England, I undertook a 10-week internship at the American Antiquarian Society, working alongside Chief Conservator Babette Gehnrich and Library and Archives Conservator Marissa Maynard. In between my time spent writing a thesis, attending a week-long course on ...

A Unicorn in the Archives

There are some archival gems you can't pass up. During my fellowship residency at the American Antiquarian Society in May 2021, AAS staff were helping me comb through the Jacob Porter Papers, when we all noticed it in the catalog record: “An Attempt to Prove the Existence of the Unicorn.”[1] “I want to believe,” someone ...

Poets in the AAS Archive: Readings and Reflections

In 1995, the Society welcomed its first class of a new kind of fellow. They were the Creative and Performing Artist and Writers Fellows, and they included fiction writers, poets, playwrights, visual artists, sculptors, performance artists, and musicians, as well as non-fiction writers, documentary filmmakers, journalists anyone seeking to create original works based upon American ...

English Ceramics, American Scenes, French Name?

Platter depicting the "Landing of Gen. Lafayette At Castle Garden New York, 16th August 1824."

In his 1913 “Report of the Librarian” published in the AAS Proceedings,  Clarence Brigham concludes with an account of “one of the most valuable gifts ever received by the Society.”  It was a collection of some 300 pieces of Staffordshire with American scenes. “It is particularly appropriate,” noted Brigham, “that the Society, which already possesses ...

Women’s Rights, Brigham Young, and Graphic Novels


Hélène Quanquin was a recent Jenny d'Héricourt Fellow here at AAS, and in the course of her research came across this fascinating satire on the women's rights movement. Quanquin teaches at the Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3.

Florence Claxton, The Adventures of a Woman in Search of Her Rights, containing nearly one hundred original drawings by the ...

Copyright and the Beginnings of Photography

As a Jay and Deborah Last Fellow at the American Antiquarian Society, I was excited to find a wealth of material related to my dissertation on photography and intellectual property law.  The United States Constitution pledged “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing, for limited Times, to Authors and Inventors the ...

Leaves among the Leaves

Shortly after their arrival, new AAS fellows give a talk to the staff about their project and the sorts of sources they’re hoping to find. In her talk, current fellow Jessica Linker, who is working on her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, mentioned that as part of her work on women and science she ...

Featured Fellow: Carsten Junker

Carsten Junker, Assistant Professor of English and American Studies, University of Bremen, Germany

Ebeling Fellowship Project: “Reading Affect in 18th-Century Abolitionist Debates”

Professor Junker’s project examines late eighteenth-century texts that envisioned an end to the enslavement of African-diasporic people in the North American colonies and early republic. The struggle to overcome slavery was fought by many – ...

Book-Buying in Baltimore

Sarah Arndt, PhD Candidate in History at Trinity College, Dublin, describes one of the treasures she found during her recent fellowship at AAS.

Have you ever wondered what your shopping receipts say about you?  What sort of conclusions would someone make about you by examining the sorts of food, clothing or books you purchased?  Recently, I ...

My Funny Valentine

Recent AAS fellow Hugh McIntosh recently spent some time with our Valentines Collection.  This collection includes some of the frilly, lovey-dovey valentines one would expect, but also some unexpected gems!  The comic valentines of the 19th century in particular caught Hugh's eye, and he shares the following about his look at the 19th century's sense ...

“Who did it? The Maine Question”


Returning the occasional game to the AAS graphic arts department does not usually result in discovering the explosives that blew up the USS Maine in 1898.

Well, it never does, actually.  But when Jennifer Burek Pierce, Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa’s School of Library and Information Science and recent Jay and Deborah Last ...

Music Makes its Mark, and a Market


Music religious thoughts inspires,
And kindles in us pure desires;
Gives pleasure to a well-tun’d mind,
The most exalted and refin’d

Music the coldest heart can warm,
The hardest melt, the fiercest charm;
Disarm the savage of his rage,
Dispel our cares, and pains assuage:

With joy it can our souls inspire,
And tune our tempers to the lyre;
Our passions like the notes agree,
And ...

The gentleman doth protest too much


Background: The books in the AAS collection began appearing long before a comprehensive cataloging system. Building on the foundational donation of Isaiah Thomas' personal library, members sent books to the Society, and according to the letter transcribed below, at times also removed them.

Item: A letter from AAS member and prominent Worcester lawyer William Lincoln to statesman ...

Apply for an AAS research fellowship and learn a trade!

Since the early 1970s, the American Antiquarian Society has been awarding fellowships to enable scholars to come to Worcester and spend anywhere from a month to a year in residence at the Society, immersing themselves in our collections. Many fellows over the years have raved about the richness of the research experience, which is borne ...

Fellow finds horse’s head

horse headhorse head

One of the great joys of working on the far side of the reference desk is hearing the words we all love to hear from our researchers: “Look at what I found.” We always know we’re in for a surprise, and we plan to use this site to share these treats with you. (Be sure to read this one through to the end … it’s hilarious!)