Have You Seen This Woman?

The following conundrum for Past is Present readers comes from AAS reader Mary Fissell. I’m writing a book about Aristotle's Masterpiece, and have just spent a couple of very productive and happy weeks working with the AAS’s collection of 50+ editions. This book, neither by Aristotle, nor a masterpiece, is one of the longest-running popular medical ...

A Place of Reading: Three Centuries of Reading in America

fatherreading

A Place of Reading.  That phrase defines Antiquarian Hall.  Reading is an everyday occupation for those of us in Antiquarian Hall whether staff or, yes, readers.  But it is also part of the title for the newest online exhibition posted on the AAS website.  How did this one come to pass? It started over twenty ...

Something Fun for the Weekend

Barber

NPR had a piece this morning on an exhibit that just opened at the Smithsonian called Telling Stories: Norman Rockwell from the Collections of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg.  If you are in the D.C. area, the exhibit is running until January. It sounds like they are making some interesting connections between the American ...

On “Readies” and Fore-edge Painting

Book of Common Prayer.  New York D. Appleton & Co., 1845.  Gilt fore-edge.

In a New York Times Book Review article last month, Jennifer Schuessler quoted Bob Brown, an early proponent of electronic reading devices.  In his prescient manifesto, "The Readies," Brown declared: “The written word hasn’t kept up with the age....  Writing has been bottled up in books since the start."  Brown called for no less than ...

“Listen my children and you will hear …”

RevereMassacre

This past April, the state of Massachusetts marked the 235th anniversary of the famous ride of Paul Revere and the start of the American Revolution at the Battles of Lexington & Concord. As you might expect, AAS takes Patriot’s Day (April 19th) seriously. Like most Massachusetts residents, we have the day off ...

The Civil War, Courtesy of the American Antiquarian Society

Currier & Ives lithograph of the capture of Atlanta, Georgia by Sherman

Next year marks the 150th anniversary of the start of the American Civil War. Many institutions are planning exhibitions, activities, and publications around the events which tore the United States apart between 1861 and 1865. Some organizations have already contacted AAS regarding the possibility of borrowing or reproducing material from our collections. ...

It isn’t perfect, but . . . .

boysgroup

Recently, the American Antiquarian Society digitized a new finding aid to help scholars access the Society’s Group Photograph collection (http://www.americanantiquarian.org/groupphotos.htm). Usually, we like these finding aides to be as complete as possible, with detailed entries and scans -- you know, the whole works, like we have done for our collections of daguerreotypes, ambrotypes and tintypes. ...

“What’s with the round photograph?”

Roundphoto

This was the question I got recently as I was sorting through some photographic material at my desk and was putting carefully aside a small, round photograph of two children. As you might already know, the American Antiquarian Society has important holdings of early photography, including daguerreotypes from the 1830s and cabinet photographs of performers ...

Historic Photographs and the Sharp Memory of a Local

Float representing St. Vincent's Hospital, Charity Circus, Worcester, July 15, 1909

Here at AAS we have lots of small collections that are safely tucked away, accessible only due to the knowledge of the reference staff, catalogers, or curators who bump into them occasionally when searching for other things. As we work our way through our holdings we try to increase access to these “lost” collections ...

Antiquarian Oscars

“Yes, I broke my slate, and I’ll break the next one too–I want an iPhone like all the other kids have!”

All the votes have been counted and the winner is.... Penny! Penny's caption won our hearts and received the most thumbs up in Past is Present's first humorous what-caption-would-you-write contest. Her submission had the added bonus of connecting to the original post on Slate, before the hype by AAS's curator of Graphic Arts, Lauren Hewes.  ...