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 ...

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, ...

This Day in History: Stamp Act Congress Convenes in Protest

October 7, 1765 – On this day in 1765, the Stamp Act Congress convened in New York City. Representatives from nine colonies met to protest the Stamp Act, which imposed the first direct tax by the British Crown on American colonies. The passage of the Stamp Act is often cited as one of the first ...

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, ...

A Follow-Up to “Can You Read This Image?”

In the intervening week or so since my post on this mysterious image appeared on the AAS blog, I contacted Alexander Anderson scholar and AAS member Jane Pomeroy. She graciously sent me this scanned copy of the full image found in her copy of the Mahlon Day 1830 edition of Divine Songs. According to Jane, she ...

The Acquisitions Table: No Rose Without a Thorn

No rose without a thorn. New York: Nathaniel Currier, [1838-1856] Shown with "My Master's Wife" When he started his business on Nassau Street in New York City, Nathaniel Currier offered for sale lithographs of news events, historic images, local views, and pretty women. He also occasionally produced narrative genre scenes such as this curious depiction of ...

The Acquisitions Table: Game of Pictures from the Civil War

Pictures from the Civil War in North America - Bilder aus dem Bugerkriege in Nordamerica - Des tableaux de la guerre-civile en Amerique du Nord.  Nuremberg: G.W. Faber, [c. 1864] Puzzle blocks in box, with six hand-colored lithographs showing the solutions. This German game was produced for the European and American markets and includes six small ...

The Acquistions Table: Handbill featuring illustration by David Claypool Johnston

Lilly, Wait, Colman & Holden Printers, Publishers, Booksellers & Stationers. Handbill with illustration by David Claypool Johnston. Boston: Pendleton, 1833. This small handbill advertising a new shop for a Boston book publisher arrived as part of a generous gift of David Claypool Johnston material from AAS member David Tatham. After checking the Society’s Johnston family archive, ...

A Small Masterpiece and Its Illustrator are Re-Discovered!

This haunting lithograph depicting Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Match-Girl is taken from the rare collection of Hans Andersen’s stories, Good Wishes for the Children, interpreted by A.A.B. and S.G.P., published by the famed Riverside Press in 1873. AAS acquired its copy from the illustrious bookman Benjamin Tighe in 1967, and up until now, the ...

Scraps of the Past

Scrapbooking is quite the popular hobby today, but it’s hardly a new idea.  People have been compiling images, memorabilia, and the written word since these things existed.  While exploring yet another of the American Antiquarian Society’s hidden gems, I found we have a wonderfully rich scrapbook collection. The collection of scrapbooks at AAS is currently at ...

Oh, Alice…

As it says on the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired…your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…” and the newly-found abandoned line “…your unwanted editions, pages uncut, spines unopened, loathed by your authors and deemed unworthy cultural capital by your countrymen…” Okay, maybe that isn’t exactly what it says. Perhaps the line’s lack of poetic ...