American Antiquarian Society

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.[3] Its main building, known as Antiquarian Hall, is a U.S. National Historic Landmark in recognition of this legacy.[4] 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.[5]

The AAS offers programs for professional scholars, pre-collegiate, undergraduate and graduate students, educators, professional artists, writers, genealogists, and the general public.[6] AAS has many digital collections available, including "A New Nation Votes: American Election Returns 1788–1824."[7]

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.[8] 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.[9] AAS also has one of the largest collections of newspapers printed in America through 1876, with more than two million issues in its collection.[10]

American Antiquarian Society
American antiq soc seal
CountryUnited States
LocationWorcester, Massachusetts
Coordinates42°16′38″N 71°48′39″W / 42.27722°N 71.81083°WCoordinates: 42°16′38″N 71°48′39″W / 42.27722°N 71.81083°W
Access and use
Population served1,052 (Membership, 2016)
Other information
DirectorEllen S. Dunlap
American Antiquarian Society
WorcesterMA AntiquarianSociety 2
American Antiquarian Society is located in Massachusetts
American Antiquarian Society
American Antiquarian Society is located in the United States
American Antiquarian Society
Location185 Salisbury Street, Worcester, Massachusetts
Area1.8 acres (7,300 m2)
ArchitectWinslow, Bigelow & Wadsworth
Architectural styleColonial Revival, Other
NRHP reference #68000018
Significant dates
Added to NRHPNovember 24, 1968[1]
Designated NHLNovember 24, 1968[2]


Thomas jb revolut bible 2 m
Isaiah Thomas, the founder of the American Antiquarian Society

On the initiative of Isaiah Thomas, the AAS was founded on October 24, 1812, through an act of the Massachusetts General Court.[11] It was the third historical society established in America, and the first to be national in its scope.[4] Isaiah Thomas started the collection with approximately 8,000 books from his personal library.[12] The first library building was erected in 1820 in downtown Worcester, Massachusetts.[13] In 1853, the Society moved its collections to a larger building at the corner of Highland Street, also in Worcester.[14] 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.[15] AAS was presented with the 2013 National Humanities Medal by President Obama in a ceremony at the White House.[16]

History of printing

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.[17] 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.[18]

Notable members

The American Antiquarian Society's membership includes scholars, writers, journalists, filmmakers, collectors, and civic leaders.[19] Notable members include the following individuals:

See also


  1. ^ National Park Service (2007-01-23). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "American Antiquarian Society". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-07-10.
  3. ^ Gura, Philip F. The American Antiquarian Society, 1812–2012: A Bicentennial History (Worcester: American Antiquarian Society, 2012) p. x
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^ aasmaster (March 28, 2017). "Mission Statement". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  6. ^ aaswebsite (August 25, 2012). "Programs & Events". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  7. ^ aaswebsite (August 25, 2012). "Digital AAS". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  8. ^ aasmaster (October 2, 2012). "Tours". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  9. ^ Gura, p. 24
  10. ^ aasmaster (October 22, 2012). "Newspapers". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  11. ^ Gura, p. 1
  12. ^ Gura, p. 33
  13. ^ Gura, p. 32
  14. ^ Gura, pp. 98-99
  15. ^ "Development Department of the American Antiquarian Society". Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  16. ^ "President Obama Awards 2013 National Humanities Medals". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved December 22, 2017.
  17. ^ Gura, pp. 14, 33
  18. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 16, 2010. Retrieved June 13, 2011.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ aasmaster (February 28, 2018). "Members Directory". Retrieved February 28, 2018.

Further reading

External links

Abijah Bigelow

Abijah Bigelow (December 5, 1775 – April 5, 1860) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Born in Westminster, Massachusetts, the son of Elisha and Sarah (Goodridge) Bigelow, Abijah Bigelow studied at Leicester (Massachusetts) Academy and New Ipswich Academy at New Ipswich, New Hampshire. He graduated from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1795. He studied law in Groton, Massachusetts.

He was admitted to the Worcester County bar in 1798 and commenced practice in Leominster, Massachusetts, in the same year. He was town clerk of Leominster 1803-1809.

He served as member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1807-1809. He was a Justice of the Peace 1809-1860 and justice of the quorum 1812-1860.

Bigelow was elected as a Federalist to the Eleventh Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Stedman. He was reelected to the Twelfth and Thirteenth Congresses and served from October 8, 1810, to March 3, 1815. He viewed the War of 1812 in a decidedly negative light.

Bigelow moved to Worcester in 1817, and served as clerk of the courts of Worcester County 1817-1833. He resumed the practice of law, and served as trustee of Leicester Academy in 1819-1820 and as treasurer 1820-1853. He was appointed a master in chancery in 1838. He died in Worcester, Massachusetts, April 5, 1860, and was interred in the Rural Cemetery.

Bigelow was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813, and subsequently served on its board of councilors from 1817-1828. The Antiquarian Society also holds a collection of manuscripts generated by Abijah and his extended family from 1785-1883. His correspondence with his wife Hannah Gardner Bigelow (1780–1857) while he was a congressman was also published in 1930 in volume 40 of the Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, with the title "The Letters of Abijah Bigelow, Member of Congress, to his Wife, 1810-1815."Abijah and his wife Hannah had nine children, seven of whom survived their father. Hannah Bigelow's brother Francis was also a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts.

Benjamin Thomas (congressman)

Benjamin Franklin Thomas (February 12, 1813 – September 27, 1878) was a member of the United States House of Representatives from Massachusetts and an associate justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

Charles Allen (Massachusetts politician)

Charles Allen (August 9, 1797 – August 6, 1869) was a United States Representative from Massachusetts.

He was born in Worcester, Massachusetts on August 9, 1797, the son Joseph Allen and grandnephew of Samuel Adams). Allen attended Leicester Academy (1809–1811) and Yale College (1811–1812) and studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1818 and commenced practice in New Braintree. He returned to Worcester in 1824 and continued the practice of law. In 1827 he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society.Allen was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives (1830, 1833, 1835, and 1840); he also served in the Massachusetts State Senate (1836–1837). In 1842, he was a member of the Maine-New Brunswick boundary commission created by the Webster–Ashburton Treaty that ended the Aroostook War. He was a judge of the Court of Common Pleas (1842–1845) and a delegate to the 1848 Whig National Convention in Philadelphia. He was twice elected to Congress as a Free-Soil Party candidate (March 4, 1849 – March 3, 1853), but did not seek renomination in 1852. In 1849 he edited the Boston Whig, later called the Republican.

After leaving Congress, he resumed the practice of law in Worcester. He was a member of the state's constitutional convention in 1853. He was Chief Justice of the Suffolk County Superior Court (1859–1867).

He was a delegate to the Peace Conference of 1861 held in Washington, D.C. to try to prevent the start of the Civil War.

Charles Allen died in Worcester on August 6, 1869. He was interred in the Rural Cemetery.

The home on which he began construction, the Charles Allen House, was completed by his descendants and was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980.

Charles Goldsborough

Charles Goldsborough (July 15, 1765 – December 13, 1834) served as the 16th Governor of the state of Maryland in the United States in 1819.

Goldsborough was born at "Hunting Creek", near Cambridge, and pursued an academic course. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania at Philadelphia in 1784 and began to study law. In 1790, he was admitted to the bar, and early on held several local political offices. He was also a member of the Maryland State Senate from 1791 to 1795 and later from 1799 to 1801.

Goldsborough was elected as a Federalist to the Ninth and to the five succeeding Congresses, serving from March 4, 1805 to March 3, 1817. In 1814 he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society. He later served as Governor of Maryland in 1819. In 1820, he retired from public life and moved to his estate near Cambridge. He died at "Shoal Creek" near Cambridge, and is interred there at Christ Episcopal Church Cemetery.

Charles Goldsborough was the great-grandfather of Thomas Alan Goldsborough and Winder Laird Henry.

Edward St. Loe Livermore

Edward St. Loe Livermore (April 5, 1762 – September 15, 1832), son of Samuel Livermore and brother of Arthur Livermore, was a United States Representative from Massachusetts. He was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on April 5, 1762. Livermore pursued classical studies, studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Concord, New Hampshire and later practised in Portsmouth.

Livermore served as United States district attorney 1794-1797. Livermore also served as State Solicitor for Rockingham County 1791-1793, Associate Justice of the New Hampshire Superior Court of Judicature 1797-1799, and a naval officer for the port of Portsmouth 1799-1802. He moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts in 1802 and was elected as a Federalist to the Tenth and Eleventh Congresses (March 4, 1807 – March 3, 1811).

Livermore was not a candidate for renomination in 1810. Livermore resumed the practice of law, moved to Boston in 1811, then to Zanesville, Ohio. Livermore returned to Boston, and then moved to Tewksbury where he lived in retirement until his death there on September 15, 1832. His interment was in the Granary Burying Ground in Boston.

He was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1815.Livermore was the father of Samuel Livermore, the authority on civil law and of Harriet Livermore (1788–1868), a prominent Millerite preacher.

Elijah Brigham

Elijah Brigham (July 7, 1751 – February 22, 1816) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Brigham was born in Westborough (now Northborough), Massachusetts, son of Colonel Levi Brigham and Susanna (Grout) Brigham. He was a descendant of Thomas Brigham and Edmund Rice, early immigrants to Massachusetts Bay Colony. Brigham was graduated from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, in 1778.

He studied law, but did not practice.

He engaged in mercantile pursuits at Westborough.

He served as member of the State house of representatives 1791–1793.

He served as justice of the court of common pleas 1795–1811.

He served in the State senate in 1796, 1798 from 1801 to 1805, and 1807–1810.

He served as a state councilor in 1799, 1800, and 1806.

Brigham was elected as a Federalist to the Twelfth, Thirteenth, and Fourteenth Congresses and served from March 4, 1811, until his death in Washington, D.C., February 22, 1816.

He was interred in the Congressional Cemetery.

Brigham was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.

Enoch Lincoln

Enoch Lincoln (December 28, 1788 – October 8, 1829) 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.

He studied law, was admitted to the bar and commenced the practice of his profession in Salem in 1811. He served as United States district attorney 1815–1818, and moved to Paris, Maine (then a district of Massachusetts), in 1819 and continued the practice of law.

In November 1818, Lincoln was elected as a Democratic-Republican, representing the Maine district, to the Fifteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Albion K. Parris. He was reelected to the Sixteenth Congress and served from November 4, 1818, to March 3, 1821.

Lincoln was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1819. A portion of his business and personal papers resides in the manuscript collections of the AAS within the Lincoln Family Papers.

Upon the admission of Maine as a state, he was again elected as a Democratic-Republican to the Seventeenth Congress, and reelected as an Adams-Clay Republican to the Eighteenth Congress, and elected as a Pro-Adams candidate to the Nineteenth Congress and served from March 4, 1821, until his resignation some time in 1826. He served as Governor of Maine from 1827 until his death. He won three terms, all with over 90% of the vote. He did not run for a fourth term.

Lincoln died in Augusta, Maine, on October 8, 1829, after the election of his successor Jonathan G. Hunton before Lincoln's term expired. Two Presidents of the Maine Senate, Nathan Cutler and Joshua Hall, had to serve as lame-duck successors between the two men. Lincoln was interred in a mausoleum in Capitol Park, directly opposite the Maine State House.

The town of Lincoln, Maine, is named for him.

Lincoln was distantly related to Abraham Lincoln, sharing a common ancestor with the sixteenth U.S. President in Samuel Lincoln, who had settled in Hingham, Massachusetts, in the 17th century.

Ethan Allen Brown

Ethan Allen Brown (July 4, 1776 – February 24, 1852) was a Democratic-Republican politician. He served as the seventh Governor of Ohio.

George Partridge

George Partridge (February 8, 1740 – July 7, 1828) was an American teacher and politician. He represented Massachusetts as a delegate to the Continental Congress and as a Representative in the U.S. House.

George W. Erving

George William Erving (1769 – July 22, 1850) was an American diplomat.

He was U.S. Consul in London, from 1801 to 1804. He was Chargé d'Affaires of the United States in Madrid from 1804 to 1809, Special Negotiator to Copenhagen in 1811, and U.S. Minister to Spain, from 1814 to 1819. He was United States Chargé d'Affaires to the Ottoman Empire, before 1831. Erving was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1834.His papers are held at Yale University.

James Burrill Jr.

James Burrill Jr. (April 25, 1772 – December 25, 1820) was a Federalist-party United States senator representing the state of Rhode Island. He served in the senate from 1817 until 1820. He graduated from the College of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations (the former name of Brown University) at Providence in 1788.

Burill was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1815.The town of Burrillville, Rhode Island, is named for him. His grandson is the American writer and public speaker, George William Curtis.

James Lloyd (Massachusetts politician)

James Lloyd (December 1769 – April 5, 1831) was a merchant, businessman and Federalist party politician from Massachusetts during the early years of the United States. He twice served as United States Senator, notably succeeding John Quincy Adams after the latter lost the party vote due to his support of the Embargo Act of 1807.

John Reed Jr.

John Reed Jr. (September 2, 1781 – November 25, 1860) was a Representative from Massachusetts.

Reed was born in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts. He graduated from Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island in 1803, and was a tutor of languages in that institution for two years, and principal of the Bridgewater, Massachusetts Academy in 1806 and 1807. He studied law, was admitted to the bar, and commenced practice in Yarmouth, Massachusetts.

Reed was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1814, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1830.He was elected as a Federalist to the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Congresses (March 4, 1813 – March 3, 1817); elected to the Seventeenth through Twenty-third Congresses; elected as an Anti-Masonic candidate to the Twenty-fourth Congress, and elected as a Whig to the Twenty-fifth and Twenty-sixth Congresses (March 4, 1821 – March 3, 1841). He was chairman of the Committee on Revisal and Unfinished Business (Twenty-second Congress). He declined to be candidate for reelection in 1840.

He was the 17th Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts (1845–1851).

Reed died in West Bridgewater, Plymouth County, Massachusetts. Interment was in Mount Prospect Cemetery, Bridgewater, Massachusetts.

Reed was the son of John Reed Sr.

Rockwood Hoar

Rockwood Hoar (October 24, 1855 – November 1, 1906) was a Representative from Massachusetts, the son of Massachusetts US Senator George Frisbie Hoar.

Samuel Sewall (congressman)

Samuel Sewall (December 11, 1757 – June 8, 1814) was an American lawyer and congressman. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts.

After attending Dummer Charity School (now The Governor's Academy), Sewall graduated from Harvard College (A.B. 1776, A.M. 1779, honorary LL.D. 1808) and set up practice as a lawyer in Marblehead. He served as a member of the state legislature in 1783, and from 1788-96.

He represented Massachusetts in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1796 to 1800, and from 1800 to 1814 served as a judge of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, becoming Chief Justice in 1814. He died at Wiscasset, Massachusetts (now Maine) while holding a court there. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1801.American novelist Louisa May Alcott was Sewall's great niece. His younger sister, Dorothy, was Alcott's great-grandmother. In 1781, he married Abigail Devereux; they had a family of at least six sons and two daughters. Sewall's great-grandfather Samuel Sewall was a judge at the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts, and subsequently Chief Justice of Massachusetts.Sewall was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society on June 1, 1814. Sewall died 7 days later on June 8, apparently before he could formally respond, so his disposition regarding membership is unknown.

William Gray (Massachusetts)

William Gray (June 27, 1750 (old style; July 8, 1750 new style)– November 4, 1825) was a Massachusetts merchant and politician. Born into a lower-class family in Lynn, Massachusetts, he managed to build his own business and rise through the state's political ranks, becoming the richest man in New England, and in the eyes of many the richest man in all of America. Prior to the War of 1812, William Gray had the largest private fleet in the United States with 60 square-rigged vessels.Gray first served as a state senator, before becoming the ninth Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, serving from 1810 to 1812. He married Elizabeth Chipman (May, 1756 - September 24, 1823) in 1782. Elizabeth was a pioneer in philanthropy, volunteering a significant portion of her time to helping the poorest citizens of Boston.

In 1820, he was elected a member of the American Antiquarian SocietyHe owned Gray's Wharf in Charlestown. In Boston "he lived on Summer Street, in the mansion previously occupied by Governor Sullivan."

Elizabeth and William had two sons:

Francis (1790–1856), also a politician

Horace (1801–1873), father of Supreme Court of the United States associate justice, Horace Gray, and of Harvard Law School professor, John Chipman Gray

William M. Richardson

William Merchant Richardson (January 4, 1774 – March 15, 1838) was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives from Massachusetts and chief justice of the New Hampshire Supreme Court.

William Phillips Jr.

William Phillips Jr. (April 10, 1750 in Boston, Massachusetts – May 26, 1827 in Boston) was a Boston merchant, politician and philanthropist.

Phillips was the son of William Phillips Sr., a merchant whom he joined in business and became wealthy. He was a descendant of Rev. George Phillips of Watertown, the progenitor of the New England Phillips family in America.Phillips was elected the tenth Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, serving from 1812 to 1823. He drafted the letter inviting New England Governors to send delegates to the Hartford Convention of 1815. On his death, he bequeathed large sums to Phillips Academy, Andover, and to Andover Theological Seminary.Phillips married Miriam Mason (1754–1823) on September 13, 1774 in Norwich, Massachusetts. They had seven children. Phillips was the grandfather of Samuel H. Walley who was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.He was also the first president of the Massachusetts General Hospital and has a building there named after him.Phillips was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813.

William Stedman

William Stedman (January 21, 1765 – August 31, 1831) was a U.S. Representative from Massachusetts.

Stedman was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard University in 1784. After this he studied law. He was admitted to the bar in 1787 and practiced in Lancaster, Charlestown, and Worcester. He was appointed Justice of the Peace in 1790. He served as town clerk of Lancaster 1795-1800. He was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1802. He served as executive chancellor of Lancaster from 1803 to 1807.

Stedman was elected as a Federalist to the Eighth Congress. He was elected from the Massachusetts' 11th Congressional district. The district he represented had been drawn in the redistricting following the 1800 Census. It essentially covered the area of Worcester and northward to the New Hampshire border. Stedman was reelected to three succeeding Congresses and served from March 4, 1803, until his resignation July 16, 1810. He served as clerk of Worcester County Courts 1810-1816. Stedman was elected a member of the American Antiquarian Society in 1813, and also served on its board of councilors from 1815 to 1816. Later in life moved to Newburyport, Massachusetts, where he died August 31, 1831. He was interred in Old Hill Burying Ground.

William Stedman married Almy Ellery (14 Feb 1759 - 25 Dec 1839). She was a sister of Elizabeth Ellery, who married Hon. Francis Dana, and also of Lucy Ellery who married William Channing (parents of William Ellery Channing, a founder of the Unitarian Church.)

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