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

postponed Environmental History Seminar

Harvest for War: Fruits, Nuts, Imperialism, and Gas Mask Manufacture in the United States During ...

21Feb 5:15PM 2017

This session has been POSTPONED to Tuesday, May 9, at 5:15 PM. Part of a larger book length study, this essay examines the use of seemingly exotic foodstuffs and ...

Teacher Workshop

Women in the Era of the American Revolution

22Feb 9:00AM 2017
Registration fee: $40 (free for students)

Study the revolution through the words and artifacts of the women who lived it. Women were vital consumers (and boycotters) of imported goods, and they functioned as ...

Brown Bag

Constructing American Belatedness: The Archives of American Artists in Late Nineteenth-Century Paris

22Feb 12:00PM 2017

Thousands of US artists traveled to Paris between 1865 and 1914, at various stages of their careers and for various lengths of time. This project culls archival materials ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

The MHS is CLOSED on Monday, 20 February, for Presidents' Day.  Despite the holiday-shortened week, there is quite a bit of activity at the Society. Here's is what we have the calendar for the ...

Working with Google to Showcase MHS Content about U. S. Presidents

Selections from MHS’s two most important collections, the Adams Family Papers and the Coolidge Collection of Thomas Jefferson Manuscripts, are now part of the Google Arts & Culture website. ...

Read more from our blog

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