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

Brown Bag

Are We Descended from Puritans or Pagans?: New England’s Critique of Manifest Destiny

23May 12:00PM 2018

This talk examines the religious critique of manifest destiny put forth by New Englanders from 1848-1871. Although manifest destiny is often portrayed as an ideology ...

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 ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

It is a fairly quiet week at the Society as we head toward a long holiday weekend. Here is what is happening in the coming days: - Monday, 21 May, 6:00PM : We start things off with an author talk ...

A Wedding at Windsor

On May 19th, HRH Prince Harry and Ms. Meghan Markle will wed at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor Castle. The couple has decided to update several royal wedding rituals, but their choice of venue ...

Read more from our blog

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