A Researcher’s Paradise
There are many historical gems in Central Massachusetts. One exceptional treasure is the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) on Salisbury Street in Worcester. Indeed, this Early American History locale is prolific. Let’s take a peek inside the striking, Georgian Revival building.
Isaiah Thomas, a Revolutionary War patriot and native of Boston, apprenticed under a Boston printer. Thomas went on to become an American newspaper publisher and moved his printing presses to Worcester. While in Worcester, he built a paper mill and published books. In 1812, Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society. The Society’s said purpose is the following: “To collect, preserve, and make available the printed record of what is now the United States from 1640 through 1876.”
The learned Society is also a research library. Actually, the building contains roughly two thirds of the books printed in America pre-1820. The vast numbers of books, scholarly periodicals, newspapers, pamphlets, and other historical printings tally in to the millions. Impressively, some of the publications are extremely rare. For example, first-edition copies of Lewis and Clark’s journals, and an early copy of the Bay Psalm Book, make their home at AAS.
Membership in AAS includes many illustrious individuals, both living and deceased. John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Esther Forbes, Ken Burns, Walter Cronkite, Jimmy Carter, Henry Louis Gates, John Quincy Adams, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Calvin Coolidge are a few of the Society’s numerous members.
AAS is available to individuals over 18 as a research library (high school students should be accompanied by a parent or guardian). Registration is required, but entrance to the library is free. Researchers working on projects related to early history are able to reference materials once sign-up requirements have been met. Academics, creative writers, dancers, and historians are some of the professions that benefit from the invaluable materials accessible in this enviable place.
The public is invited to visit AAS for a tour on Wednesdays at 3 p.m. Visitors get to see tea from the Boston Tea Party, massive collections of past newspapers, letters and other writings, Thomas’ printing press, John Hancock’s clock, and so much more. It is important to mention that as unrivaled as the building’s contents tend to be (think priceless Civil War records), the striking dome and amazing balcony inside the structure undoubtedly complement the whole unforgettable experience.
An assortment of enriching lectures and seminars take place at AAS. At the same time, the Society unites with K-12 educators on a variety of projects that positively influence learning.
Operational hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.
For additional details regarding this local jewel, go to http://www.americanantiquarian.org/