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

Brown Bag

Conjuring Emancipation: Making Freedom in the U.S. Civil War’s Refugee Camps

30May 12:00PM 2018

Black Americans did not just pray for emancipation, they conjured it. This project examines the political work of revival in wartime refugee camps and envisions ...

Author Talk

Apostles of Revolution: Jefferson, Paine, Monroe, & the Struggle against the Old Order in America & ...

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

As Founding Fathers, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe risked their lives and their liberty for  American independence, and as reformers, each ...

MHS Tour

The History and Collections of the MHS

2Jun 10:00AM 2018

The History and Collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society Tour is a 90-minute docent-led walk through our public rooms. The tour is free, open to the public, ...

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Anna Peabody Bellow’s Travel Diary

Anna Peabody Bellow’s 1864 travel diary documents her voyage to England and France as a young and wealthy New England young woman during the Civil War. Included among her paragraph-a-day entries ...

Immigration and Trade in Early 20th-Century Worcester

The Rockwood Hoar Papers at the MHS document the life and career of Rockwood Hoar, a Worcester, Massachusetts lawyer and politician who lived from 1855 to 1906. Hoar was the son of United States ...

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