Early Imprints

Books, pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers printed before 1821 have been removed from the general collection and are stored together as the early imprint collection. This grouping includes a large number of 17th-century Massachusetts imprints and many early foreign publications, including books donated by 18th- and 19th-century book collectors, as well as the 1796 Library, a reassembling of the Society's earliest holdings.

Highlights

The collection of early imprints contains a number of rare items, such as Gov. John Winthrop's A Declaration of Former Passages and Proceedings Betwixt the English and the Narrowgansetts (Cambridge, 1645), the first historical account published in English-speaking North America. Other highlights include a copy of Reverend John Eliot's "Indian Bible," Mamusse Wunneetupanatamwe Up-Biblum God (Cambridge, 1663), the first Bible printed in any language in America, and a unique copy of The Selling of Joseph, by Samuel Sewall (Boston, 1700), the first American antislavery tract. The Society also holds a copy of Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, by Phillis Wheatley (London, 1773), the first book of poetry written by an African American, together with manuscript copies by Wheatley of several of her poems.

How to Find Early Imprints

All early imprints held by the MHS are cataloged in ABIGAIL, including books, pamphlets, broadsides, and serials.

Microfilm of Early American Imprints

In addition to the thousands of early imprints in the MHS collection of books and pamphlets, the Society has microfiche copies of almost all works published in America through 1819. These items represent the 75,000 titles listed in Charles Evans's American Bibliography, Roger Bristol's Supplement to Evans' American Bibliography (1638-1800), and Ralph Shaw and Richard Shoemaker's American Bibliography (1801-1819). The microfiche editions contain the full text of nearly every work (except serials and some printed ephemera) listed in these bibliographies. Researchers can also read catalog descriptions for every item in the microfiche sets in ABIGAIL.

Upcoming Events

Teacher Workshop

The Material Culture of Death

21Oct 9:00AM 2017
Registration fee: $25 per person

Grief was serious business in the nineteenth century. We will explore grim reminders of lives lost such as mourning jewelry, postmortem photographs, samplers, and ...

Author Talk

The Apparitionists: A Tale of Phantoms, Fraud, Photography & the Man Who Captured Lincoln's Ghost

21Oct 2:00PM 2017

More than just a ghost story, this is a portrait of a young nation struggling to separate fact from fiction. Manseau details the trial of William H. Mumler, the &ldquo ...

Brown Bag

"Let it be your resolution to be happy": Women's Emotion Work in the Early Republic

23Oct 12:00PM 2017

Tasked with maintaining the comfort and happiness of their families even in the face of adversity, many middling- and upper-class women in the early-nineteenth century ...

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Gertrude Codman Carter’s Diary, October 1917

Today we return to the 1917 diary of Gertrude Codman Carter. You may read the previous entries here:   Introduction | January | February | March | April | May June | July | August | September ...

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I find a visit to any of New England’s burying grounds fascinating year-round, but I consider treading among slate gravestones and timeworn monuments in October a quintessential New England ...

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