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

History of Women and Gender Seminar

Reproducing Race in the Early Americas

23Oct 5:30PM 2018
Location: Knafel Center, Radcliffe Institute

This roundtable will use the body as frame for examining racial formation in the Caribbean and U.S. from the eighteenth century to the present. The presenters will ...

Author Talk

Swindler Sachem: The American Indian Who Sold His Birthright, Dropped Out of Harvard, and Conned the ...

24Oct 6:00PM 2018
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30

Jenny Pulsipher opens a window onto 17th-century New England and the English empire from the unusual perspective of John Wompas, a Nipmuc Indian who may not have been all ...

Teacher Workshop

Fashioning History

27Oct 9:00AM 2018
Registration: $25

Throughout history, our choices about what we wear tell the world about our personality, position, background, and beliefs. From textile in Boston Boycott, manufacture in ...

From our Blog

This Week @MHS

We have a busy week ahead with a couple of seminars, an author talk, and a workshop. - Monday, 22 October, 5:15 PM: Paul Revere's Ride through Digital History with Joseph M. Adelman, ...

Calling All High School Students: Apply for a 2019 John Winthrop ...

Are you a student who loves history?  Are you a teacher with students who are intrigued by primary source research?  Want the chance to spend some time in the MHS archives?  Check out ...

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