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, ...

Discovery: Herald of Freedom and Peter H. Clark

Newspapers are a huge and important part of our collection here at the American Antiquarian Society. They take up over five miles of shelving here. From establishment papers like the New York Times to amateur prints, preserving newspapers gives readers a glimpse into the mundane and day-to-day, as well as insight on relevant social issues ...

“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 ...

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 ...

The Acquisitions Table: The North Star (Rochester, NY), June 5, 1851.

Curators look far and wide trying to find materials for their institution’s collection.  Despite this, sometimes the most amazing items show up locally.  AAS photographer, Nathan Fiske, brought to my attention a local estate auction that had two newspapers in it.  As it turned out, both were newspapers published by Frederick Douglass.  The first one ...

The Acquisitions Table: An Unidentified Printing Office by Photographer C.P. Michael

The Society’s collection of photographs of working print shops continues to expand (see blog posts on this topic from 2014 and 2017). Most of the photographs feature businesses in New England, New York, or Pennsylvania. This newly acquired photo, showing a tidy shop with a ca. 1882 Hoe flatbed newspaper press, was taken in Nebraska. ...

PHBAC Virtual Book Talks Fall 2020 Schedule

In May 2020, the Program in the History of the Book in American Culture (PHBAC) launched its Virtual Book Talks series. This new academic program showcases authors of recently published scholarly monographs, digital-equivalents, and creative works broadly related to book history and print culture. Each installment includes a presentation from the author and a Q&A ...

The Summer of Smearcase

As we wind down a summer with limited travel and with conferences postponed or transitioned online, I can’t help but reminisce about a summer in the far distant past (last year) when two bright young AAS staff members, who really enjoy food (and sweet treats), descended upon the city of Baltimore in search of local ...

A Trip Around the World with Nellie Bly

Working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic has allowed me the opportunity to explore the AAS catalog in fun new ways. Inspired by my family’s board games, which have been stacked in the living room since our transition to remote work, one recent search led to our games collection. While many of the games piqued ...

Reporting on the Battle of Lexington, 1775: Fake News and the Massachusetts Spy

May 3rd is an important date for both the American Antiquarian Society and the community of Worcester. On that date in 1775, Isaiah created the first object printed in this community: his newspaper the Massachusetts Spy. In this issue, he described the Battles of Lexington and Concord. While Thomas was present at those battles, his ...

What’s the Difference Between a Watch Maker and a Jailer? Adventures in Amateur Newspapers (Part I)

If you’re like me and occasionally find yourself lying in bed endlessly scrolling though BuzzFeed quizzes and pop culture articles, then you are no stranger to the modern-day dad joke. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, I like to define a “dad joke” as a cheesy and often predictable pun told by (but ...

The Acquisitions Table: The Countryman  

The Countryman (Turnwold, Georgia), 1862–1866. 163 issues.

The Countryman is the only newspaper published on a Southern plantation. The owner of the plantation, Joseph Turner, started this paper on March 4, 1862. In advertisements he placed in various newspapers he wrote, “We do not profess to publish a NEWS paper, for, under the circumstances, that is ...

The Acquisitions Table: The Whip

The Whip (New York, New York), Oct. 8, 1842. 

Racy papers were scandalous newspapers mostly published in the 1840s and 1850s in New York and Boston. AAS has one of the larger institutional collections of these lowbrow papers. Opportunities to acquire additional issues of these papers are few and far between.

An issue for one of the ...

Tribute to a Great Friend and Book Dealer

One of the duties of a curator at the American Antiquarian Society is to interact with dealers of antiquarian books, manuscripts, and paper ephemera. Over time we develop professional relationships with them as we get to know what type of materials they have, and they get to know our wants.

In 2003 I was using eBay ...

Unique Jacksoniana: Poetry from a Short Man Who Fell Off a Tall Roof

[3d-flip-book mode="thumbnail-lightbox" urlparam="fb3d-page" id="18228" title="false" lightbox="dark"]Earlier blog posts have promoted a soon-to-debut online resource that will feature highlights from the William C. Cook Jacksonian Era Collection. Here’s another of those one-of-a-kind items. Today we feature an unrecorded elegy written after the death of Jackson by a poet previously unknown to the literary world (perhaps for good ...