|Access and use|
|Population served||1,052 (Membership, 2016)|
|Director||Ellen S. Dunlap|
American Antiquarian Society
|Location||185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts|
|Area||1.8 acres (7,300 m2)|
|Architect||Winslow, Bigelow & Wadsworth|
|Architectural style||Colonial Revival, Other|
|NRHP reference #||68000018|
|Added to NRHP||November 24, 1968|
|Designated NHL||November 24, 1968|
The American Antiquarian Society (AAS), located in Worcester, Massachusetts, is both a learned society and national research library of pre-twentieth century American history and culture. Founded in 1812, it is the oldest historical society in the United States with a national focus.Its main building, known as Antiquarian Hall, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark in recognition of this legacy. The mission of the AAS is to collect, preserve and make available for study all printed records of what is now known as the United States of America. This includes materials from the first European settlement through the year 1876.
The AAS offers programs for professional scholars, pre-collegiate, undergraduate and graduate students, educators, professional artists, writers, genealogists, and the general public.AAS has many digital collections available, including "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1788–1824."
The collections of the AAS contain over three million books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, graphic arts materials and manuscripts. The Society is estimated to hold copies of two-thirds of the total books known to have been printed in what is now the United States from the establishment of the first press in 1640 through the year 1820; many of these volumes are exceedingly rare and a number of them are unique.Historic materials from all fifty U.S. states, most of Canada and the British West Indies are included in the AAS repository. One of the more famous volumes held by the Society is a copy of the very first book printed in America, the Bay Psalm Book. AAS also has one of the largest collections of newspapers printed in America through 1876, with more than two million issues in its collection.
On the initiative of Isaiah Thomas, the AAS was founded on October 24, 1812, through an act of the Massachusetts General Court.It was the third historical society established in America, and the first to be national in its scope. Isaiah Thomas started the collection with approximately 8,000 books from his personal library. The first library building was erected in 1820 in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts. In 1853, the Society moved its collections to a larger building at the corner of Highland Street, also in Worcester. This building was later abandoned and another new building was constructed. Designed by Winslow, Bigelow & Wadsworth, the Georgian Revival building was completed in 1910 and stands on the corner of Park Avenue and Salisbury Street. There have been several additions to this building to accommodate the growing collection, the most recent of which was completed in 2003. AAS was presented with the 2013 National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.
As part of AAS's mission as a learned society, it offers a variety of public lectures and seminars. One topic to which AAS dedicates significant academic energies is printing technology, especially in eighteenth-century British North America. Since Isaiah Thomas was a newspaper man himself, he collected a large number of printed materials.With regard to printing, paper making, edition setting, and reprinting, not much had changed in European technology by the eighteenth century. It was not until the late eighteenth century that paper-making material began to evolve from a hand-woven cloth to an industrial pulp. AAS undertakes special efforts to preserve printed records from this time period, as the Society maintains an on-site conservation department with various sewing, cloth, and binding materials to aid in the preservation process.
The American Antiquarian Society's membership includes scholars, writers, journalists, filmmakers, collectors, American presidents, and civic leaders.Notable members include the following individuals:
An antiquarian or antiquary is an aficionado or student of antiquities or things of the past. More specifically, the term is used for those who study history with particular attention to ancient artifacts, archaeological and historic sites, or historic archives and manuscripts. The essence of antiquarianism is a focus on the empirical evidence of the past, and is perhaps best encapsulated in the motto adopted by the 18th-century antiquary Sir Richard Colt Hoare, "We speak from facts, not theory."
Isaiah Thomas was an American newspaper publisher and author. He performed the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Worcester, Massachusetts, and reported the first account of the Battles of Lexington and Concord. He was the founder of the American Antiquarian Society.
Aaron Bancroft was an American clergyman. He was born in Reading, Massachusetts to Samuel Bancroft and Lydia Parker.
Charles Allen was a United States Representative from Massachusetts.
The Massachusetts Historical Society is a major historical archive specializing in early American, Massachusetts, and New England history. It is located at 1154 Boylston Street in Boston, Massachusetts and is the oldest historical society in the United States, having been established in 1791.
The Club of Odd Volumes is a private social club and society of bibliophiles founded in 1887, in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.
Benjamin Franklin Thomas was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.
William Bentley was an American Unitarian minister, scholar, columnist, and diarist. He was a polymath who possessed the second best library in the United States, and was an indefatigable reader and collector of information at the local national and international level. Starting in 1794, he produced a weekly news summary of world events for the local newspaper the Salem Gazette. He provided a highly sophisticated capsule of current political and cultural news, set in a broad historical context. His unsigned reports were widely copied and reproduced in the young nation's newspapers. Bentley believed in Republican enlightenment and the widest possible diffusion of knowledge. He was upset by the increasingly shrill tone of the partisan press, and the superficiality of much journalism.
Abijah Bigelow was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.
Enoch Lincoln was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts and from Maine, son of Levi Lincoln Sr. and brother of Levi Lincoln Jr. Born in Worcester, Massachusetts, Lincoln graduated from Harvard College in 1807. He also served as Governor of Maine from 1827 until his death in October 1829.
Philip F. Gura is an intellectual and cultural historian. He currently serves as William S. Newman Distinguished Professor of American Literature and Culture at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he holds appointments in the Departments of English and Comparative Literature, Religious Studies, and American Studies.
Redford Webster was an apothecary, town official, and state legislator in Boston, Massachusetts. He was a founding member of the American Antiquarian Society, and helped establish the Boston Library Society, and the Massachusetts Historical Society. He was born in Salisbury, Massachusetts, in 1761 to Hannah Wainwright and shopkeeper Grant Webster. In Boston ca. 1787-1805 he worked as "druggist, medicine," from offices "three doors below the Drawbridge, Ann Street." He had trained "with Mr. Daniel Scott, a druggist or apothecary, at the sign of the Leopard, at the south part of the town, the business being subsequently removed to Union Street. On the death of Mr. Scott, young Webster formed a c-opartnership with his widow, under the firm-name of Scott & Webster, and afterward pursued the business in his own name."
The Boston Gaol (1635–1822) was a jail in the center of Boston, Massachusetts, located off Court Street, in the block bounded by School, Washington and Tremont Streets. It was rebuilt several times on the same site, before finally moving to the West End in 1822. Prisoners included Quakers, "witches," pirates, murderers, rebels, debtors, and newspaper editors.
Annie Russell Marble was an American essayist, whose work dealt with early American historical figures, authors of the Transcendental movement, some of whom she knew personally, and commentary on literature in general.
Samuel Chenery Damon was a missionary to Hawaii, pastor of the Seamen's Bethel Church, chaplain of the Honolulu American Seamen's Friend Society and editor of the monthly newspaper The Friend.
Samuel Forster Haven was an American archeologist and anthropologist.
The following is a timeline of the history of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, United States of America.
Peleg Emory Aldrich was a teacher, lawyer, politician and jurist who served as the twelfth mayor of Worcester, Massachusetts and as an Associate Justice of the Massachusetts Superior Court.
Adeliza Perry was a teacher and writer from Massachusetts, who served as a nurse in the American Civil War.