This Day in History: Lincoln Proclaims, ‘Turkey Day!’

October 3, 1863 – On this day in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation designating the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day. The proclamation came in the midst of the Civil War. In his address, Lincoln chose to focus on the country’s prosperity: “[T]he country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is ...

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 ...

Major Taylor letters featured in new video

In 2020, letters from a young Marshall “Major” Taylor were donated to the American Antiquarian Society by Constance L. Whitehead Hanks. Taylor, a Worcester resident, was the first African American to win the title of cycling world champion, in 1899, and the second Black athlete to win a world championship in any sport. He is ...

Artists in the AAS Archive: September 2020

This week we continue our Artists in the AAS Archive series.  This installment offers a spotlight on four more past fellows: book artist Maureen Cummins; performer-scholar Anne Harley; playwright and screenwriter Jeffrey Hatcher; and playwright and performer Laurie McCants. This series celebrates the 25th anniversary of Artist fellowships at the American Antiquarian Society.  More information about ...

Celebrating National Dog Day at AAS!

It should come as no surprise that the staff here at the American Antiquarian Society is passionate about books and prints related to American history.  But we’re also deeply committed to our pets. From time to time, we’ll even share photos of our favorite furry or feathered friends on the AAS Instagram page. Today is National ...

Artists in the AAS Archive: New Series on the AAS Artist Fellowships

In April, we published an article in honor of National Poetry Month, entitled "Poets in the AAS Archive." In this same thread, we are pleased to share our plans now to create a new series on Past is Present dedicated to our artist fellows. This new series will spotlight the work of current and past fellows ...

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 ...

“Don’t Expose Me”: The Beecher-Tilton Scandal of New York

Maggie Panteli is pursuing a BA degree in History and is graduating May 2020 from Clark University. During the summer of 2019, she worked part-time as a Readers’ Services Page and as an assistant in the Graphic Arts Department cataloging stereographs. Her favorite cataloging job was working with the McLoughlin illustrations. Her time at AAS ...

Join AAS This Summer On a Social Media Road Trip

For many people, Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer. As we antiquarians here at AAS began thinking about summer in the collections, we started to imagine how wonderful it might be to go on a road trip and visit every state represented in our collections—that’s all fifty, of course!

Since the feasibility of ...

Worcester’s “Garden City”

My favorite part of cataloging is figuring out a mystery. When little information is given with an object and I am able to solve that mystery, I’m a happy camper. So when a set of three photographs came across my desk, one of them a very sweet image of children holding rabbits and chickens, I ...

Identifying the Unidentified

Kathleen Major has been volunteering in the Manuscripts Department at AAS for several years. She worked at AAS from 1976 to 1984 and was Keeper of Manuscripts for a portion of that time. After leaving the Society to care for her children, Kathy worked at the Gale Free Library in Holden, most recently as head of ...

Feelin’ Blue: Cyano-HYPE at AAS

Ali Phaneuf is a junior at Fairfield University and was a page in the Reader’s Services Department this past summer. As a journalism major and a studio art minor, Ali has always been an avid book reader and art enthusiast, and her love of books and creativity was able to grow through her experience at ...

Pasted Pandemonium!

After highlighting marbled paper in a blog post last year, I received this suggestion from several people: Why not explore another popular kind of decorative paper- paste paper? Paste papers are much simpler than marbled papers, but the art form has a rich history and has produced countless beautiful examples. I searched through the AAS ...

Back to School (supplies!)

In the AAS Penmanship Collection, a group of penmanship exercises  and copy books by various students, there is a poem titled “After Vacation” by an unknown pupil from the Parkerville School in Westford, Massachusetts. The poem is on the first page of one of the mostly-filled volumes and captures an adieu to summer with the ...

Nimrod, Newspapers, and the Apocalypse of 1812

"I saw the gathering tempest and heard its dreadful roarings, which seemed to me the roaring and burstings of ten thousand canons at once. Then I saw the trees of the forest torn by the violence of the winds, and dashed against each other, and against everything that stood before them, and houses and rocks ...