Broadsides

Broadsides are single sheets printed on one side that served as public announcements or advertisements from the beginning of printing in America through the early 20th century. They were the popular "broadcasts" of their day, bringing news of current events to the public quickly and often disappearing just as quickly.

The Society holds more than 10,000 broadsides, an unusually large and valuable collection since the temporary use of broadsides made their survival particularly rare.  Generally posted or read aloud, broadsides constituted official notices of laws and regulations and provided news of battles, deaths, executions, and other current events.

Highlights

54th Regiment Recruiting PosterHighlights include a notice of the Harvard commencement exercises in 1643, announcements of antislavery rallies, recruitment posters for the 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, the first official black regiment raised in the North during the Civil War, and broadsides that run the gamut from dying confessions, to poems on natural disasters and topics of the day and official government proclamations.

A large collection of theater broadsides and playbills, chiefly from Boston, gives a glimpse of popular culture and entertainment in the 19th century.

Posters—works of art printed on single sheets—have been cataloged as part of the broadside collection. 

The Broadside Printing of the Declaration of Independence

The MHS holds copies of many different broadside printings of The Declaration, the single most important printed document in American history, including one of the few surviving copies of the first printing by John Dunlap of Philadelphia from 4-5 July 1776.  Dunlap's broadside brought news of Independence throughout the colonies. 

How to Find Broadsides

All of the Society's broadsides are cataloged in ABIGAIL, the library online catalog.

 

Upcoming Events

Conversation

“Impossible Dreamers” The Pennant-Winning 1967 Boston Red Sox

24Jun 4:00PM 2017
Please register and pay online using the RSVP ...

In the spring of 1967, the Boston Red Sox were coming off a season in which they had lost 90 games, and seemingly were locked in a state of mediocrity. Owner Tom Yawkey ...

Author Talk

The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building ...

26Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

    In life and in death, slaves were commodities. Their monetary value was assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The ...

Author Talk

The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

28Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

      Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696–1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, ...

From our Blog

A Swing through Lynn Woods around 1910

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Photographs at the MHS

Having spent the last few weeks immersed in a very interesting collection of 19th- and early 20th-century photographs (more on that in a later post), I thought I’d take this opportunity to write ...

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