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 ...

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 ...

A Puzzle No More: Charles C. Green and The Nubian Slave

The catalog records that a library user sees in the course of searching often belie a considerable underlying complexity. At AAS, maximizing access to our collections through the creation of accurate, clear and concise catalog records is a high priority. However, the true extent of the effort required to create and maintain these records may ...

“To the Public”: The Rutland Herald, 1794, and the San Francisco China News, 1874

The publication of the first issue of a newspaper is a momentous occasion.  After scraping together the funding to purchase equipment, lining up supplies, hiring staff, soliciting subscriptions, selling advertisements, and gathering news to print, the newspaper rolls off the press and is ready to be placed in the hands of the public for them ...

‘Uncle Cleve’: President Grover Cleveland, His-story v. the Truth

In a packed box of uncatalogued cabinet photos, in between portraits of the minister Charles Cleveland and the 22nd President, I came across three portraits of a young, dark-haired woman. In each photo, she looked to be about twenty years old -- attractive, well-dressed, and entirely unrecognizable to me if it weren’t for the titles ...

Cure and Preventive: Patent medicines in the 18th and 19th century United States

In popular culture within the United States, many have heard of the “snake oil salesman” – a stock character in Western movies depicted as a supposed traveling doctor who peddles “medical” oils, elixirs, tonics, pills, bitters, liniments, tinctures, salts, powders, or syrups to unsuspecting crowds of passers-by. An accomplice in the crowd (a “shill”) attests ...

Lucy Brewer and the Making of a Female Marine

The lore behind a great story is often as compelling as the story itself. The Female Marine; or the Adventures of Lucy Brewer was originally published by Nathaniel Coverly in 1815 as a series of pamphlets sold across Boston and advertised as the autobiographical account of Lucy Brewer, lauded as the first woman to serve ...

Martha Ann Brown – Community Leader, Knowledge Keeper

In a letter dated July 11, 1889, Frederick Douglass laments the death of a friend. Composed on an early typewriter, the letter is addressed to William Brown, one of Worcester’s wealthiest Black residents and owner of an upholstery business in the city. Douglass writes, “I had few friends of the early times whom I remember ...

Breach of Promise: Seeking Compensation for a Broken Heart

Here at AAS, we’ve always enjoyed Valentine’s Day. From various blog posts to our online exhibit on Victorian Valentines, we have fun promoting the holiday. This year, we thought we’d go in a different direction and look at what could happen when love doesn’t go as planned. Breach of promise lawsuits occurred when a person, usually ...

Who Was John Moore Jr.?

For Black History Month, the American Antiquarian Society is featuring historic objects from the collection that are associated with or depict Black Worcester residents. The Society’s portrait of John Moore Jr. was painted in Boston in 1826 when the sitter was in his twenties. He was the only son of John Moore Sr. (1751-1836), a ...

How Six-Year-Old Stephen Salisbury III Rescued One of the Rarest and Most Important Christmas Documents in American History

Most members of the American Antiquarian Society are aware of the enormous contributions made by the Salisbury family of Worcester County, Massachusetts. Stephen Salisbury II served as president of the Society from 1854 until his death in 1884, and his son, Stephen Salisbury III, served as president from 1887 until his death in 1905. (A ...

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 ...

Conservation of a Fragmentary Early Menagerie Poster

In advance of my summer work placement at the American Antiquarian Society, I discussed a slate of proposed activities with Chief Conservator Babette Gehnrich while in New York City. On their list was a housing project for manuscripts, standardized treatments of broadsides, and an introduction to digitization workflows for the Society’s collections. “Also,” she mentioned ...

Navigating the Book Trades Manuscripts with the First AAS Seiler Intern

This summer, even amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I was given the immense privilege to be the first Seiler Curatorial Intern at the American Antiquarian Society. Even through uncertain times, the Society and my supervisor Ashley Cataldo, Curator of Manuscripts, advocated for my internship and was able to offer me a blended virtual and in-person experience. As ...