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

Author Talk

The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to Grave, in the Building ...

26Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

    In life and in death, slaves were commodities. Their monetary value was assigned based on their age, gender, health, and the demands of the market. The ...

Brown Bag

Maps, Copies, and Rights: Boundaries of Ownership in Early American Piracy

28Jun 12:00PM 2017

The origins and development of copyright practices in the eighteenth century were at once a local, national, and imperial project. While literary property itself was ...

Author Talk

The Many Captivities of Esther Wheelwright

28Jun 6:00PM 2017
There will be a pre-talk reception at 5:30pm.

      Born and raised in a New England garrison town, Esther Wheelwright (1696–1780) was captured by Wabanaki Indians at age seven. Among them, ...

From our Blog

This Week @ MHS

The final week of June is a fairly quiet one here at the Society. Here is what's coming up: - Monday, 26 June, 6:00PM : The Price for their Pound of Flesh: The Value of the Enslaved, from Womb to ...

A Swing through Lynn Woods around 1910

The Lynn Woods Reservation is a fun place to spend some time among trees and even take in views of the Boston skyline. It is also notable for various features and structures, such as Stone Tower, ...

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