MHS Madness64 of our favorite items in head-to-head competition

The MHS item bracket

17th Century

John Winthrop's journal 1 Image of Native American 16
C. Mather on Salem witches 8 First Map of New England 9
Eliot Indian Bible 5 Spanish treasure captured 12
Cotton Mather's watch 4 Paine family cupboard 13
King Philip's samp bowl 6 Early coinage 11
Salem witch trials 3 Exploration of America 14
Anne Hutchinson 7 Mrs. Baker 10
Mass. Bay Company stock 2 Map of the Americas 15

19th Century

Gettysburg Address 1 Capturing a slave-hunter 16
Mumbet 8 Blood-stained letter 9
54th Regiment 5 Daniel Webster 12
Emancipation Proc. Pen 4 Young girl's drawing 13
Amistad and J.Q. Adams 6 Dogs' tea party 11
The Branded Hand 3 Cheyenne drawing 14
Roosevelt — San Juan Hill 7 Boston's Old State House 10
Adams in the White House 2 Blake stop-action photo 15
John Winthrop's journal First Map of New England
Eliot Indian Bible Paine family cupboard
King Philip's samp bowl Salem witch trials
Anne Hutchinson Mass. Bay Company stock
Gettysburg Address Blood-stained letter
54th Regiment Emancipation Proc. Pen
Amistad and J.Q. Adams Cheyenne drawing
Boston's Old State House Adams in the White House
John Winthrop's journal Eliot Indian Bible
Salem witch trials Anne Hutchinson
Gettysburg Address 54th Regiment
Amistad and J.Q. Adams Adams in the White House
John Winthrop's journal Salem witch trials
54th Regiment Amistad and J.Q. Adams
Salem witch trials Amistad and J.Q. Adams
Salem witch trials Remember the Ladies Remember the Ladies
Remember the Ladies Woman's Suffrage parade
Remember the Ladies Paul Revere's ride
Woman's Suffrage parade Sarah G. Putnam diary
Boston Tea Party tea Remember the Ladies
Independence declared Paul Revere's ride
Woman's Suffrage parade Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa
Sarah G. Putnam diary Japanese internment camp
Adams on Independence Boston Tea Party tea
U.S. Constitution Remember the Ladies
G. Washington address Independence declared
Jefferson's Monticello Paul Revere's ride
Red Sox medal Woman's Suffrage parade
Letter from WWI volunteer Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa
Sarah G. Putnam diary E. E. Cummings drawing
Japanese internment camp Nixon & Lodge

18th Century

Adams on Independence 1 China trade ship's log 16
Boston Tea Party tea 8 Bunker Hill swords 9
U.S. Constitution 5 Pine Tree Penny 12
Remember the Ladies 4 Phillis Wheatley's desk 13
G. Washington address 6 Franklin on electricity 11
Independence declared 3 John Hancock by Copley 14
Jefferson's Monticello 7 Henry Knox diary 10
Paul Revere's ride 2 Indian weathervane 15

20th Century

Red Sox medal 1 Education of Henry Adams 16
Woman's Suffrage parade 8 Flooding of the Nile 9
Joan of Arc Saved France 5 Letter from WWI volunteer 12
Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa 4 Drawings of the S. Pacific 13
Sarah G. Putnam diary 6 World War I photograph 11
E. E. Cummings drawing 3 Lodge resignation 14
Japanese internment camp 7 Atomic bomb testing 10
Nixon & Lodge 2 W. C. Endicott by Sargent 15

Pen used by Abraham Lincoln to sign the Emancipation Proclamation

On 1 January 1863, President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves of the Confederate states. He signed the document with this pen, which he then presented to Massachusetts abolitionist George Livermore.

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Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 31 March - 5 April 1776

In the spring of 1776, with talk of independence in the air, Abigail Adams wrote to her husband and famously advised: "in the New Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, & be more Generous & favourable to them than your ancestors."

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Boston Red Sox medal

In the years before the first World Series rings were issued in 1922, players were awarded medals or money clips for their victories. This championship medal was made by Boston jeweler and watchmaker Frank A. Gendreau for the Red Sox World Series win in 1912…the first at Fenway Park.

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Joan of Arc Saved France

This patriotic poster, issued by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, implored women to help fund U.S. participation in World War I by purchasing war savings stamps. More than 20,000 American women supported the war effort, serving in the armed forces or as Red Cross and YWCA volunteers.

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Elizabeth Freeman ("Mumbet")

This watercolor-on-ivory miniature portrait was painted by Susan Anne Livingston Ridley Sedgwick in 1811. Its subject is Elizabeth Freeman, known as "Mumbet," a slave who sued for her freedom in 1783 and set the legal precedent for the abolition of slavery in Massachusetts.

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State Street, 1801

This painting by James Brown Marston shows the eastward side of Boston's Old State House as it looked at the turn of the 18th century. The open square, a place of social and commercial activity, was the scene of many memorable events, including the Boston Massacre on 5 March 1770.

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The Education of Henry Adams

This book by Henry Adams, grandson and great-grandson of two presidents, was first printed privately in 1907. It wasn't commercially published until after his death in 1918, and won a Pulitzer Prize in 1919. Although Adams wrote in the third person, the book is autobiographical and includes commentary on 19th-century political and cultural events.

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To Colored Men. 54th Regiment! Massachusetts Volunteers, Of African Descent

The 54th Massachusetts Infantry Regiment, commissioned after the passage of the Emancipation Proclamation, was the first regiment of black soldiers raised in the North during the Civil War. Although this recruitment poster promised enlistees $13 a month, the regiment had to wait more than a year to receive full pay from the federal government.

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In Congress, July 4, 1776. A Declaration by the Representatives of the United States of America, in General Congress Assembled.

The first printing of this founding document is the single most important published item at the MHS. On 18 July 1776, Abigail Adams was in the crowd that gathered outside Boston's Old State House to hear the Declaration read aloud—perhaps from this very copy.

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A Map of New England

A Map of New England, the first map known to be published in the English colonies of North America, is probably also the first published in the Western Hemisphere. The map is attributed to John Foster, a mathematician and schoolmaster, who was the only Bostonian known to make woodcuts during this period.

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Letter from Paul Revere to Jeremy Belknap, circa 1798

In this undated letter, Paul Revere describes his famous ride on 18 April 1775, when Dr. Joseph Warren urged him to ride to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of British troop movements. Revere wrote this letter at the request of Jeremy Belknap, corresponding secretary of the MHS.

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Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776

John Adams wrote this letter to Abigail Adams one day after the 2 July 1776 resolution of the Continental Congress to declare independence from Great Britain. He describes what the Declaration would mean for Americans and how independence would be celebrated by future generations…on the second of July.

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Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping

This stop-action photograph of Benjamin Sewall Blake jumping was taken by his father, Francis Blake, an accomplished inventor and photographer. In the mid-1880s, Blake designed a distinctive shutter that allowed him to take photographs with very short exposure times.

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The branded hand of Captain Jonathan Walker

Capt. Jonathan W. Walker was an ardent abolitionist who was convicted and sentenced for attempting to assist seven escaped slaves to freedom in 1844. His hand was branded with the letters "SS" for "slave stealer," as shown in this daguerreotype photograph by Southworth and Hawes. The reverse image, consistent with the daguerreotype process, depicts Walker's right hand.

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A Voyage Round the World Onboard the Ship Columbia-Rediviva and Sloop Washington

Robert Haswell's log kept aboard the ship Columbia-Rediviva and the sloop Washington documents the young merchant's journey on the newly opened trade route from America to the East Indies and Canton, China. Sea otter fur was among the most desired goods exchanged for Chinese tea.

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Daniel Webster

This watercolor-on-ivory miniature depicts Daniel Webster shortly after he was elected to the U.S. Senate. The portrait was painted by Sarah Goodridge, one of America's most distinguished and prolific miniature painters, who worked in Boston between 1820 and 1850.

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Tea leaves in glass bottle collected on the shore of Dorchester Neck the morning of 17 December 1773

This small glass bottle contains tea leaves gathered on the shore of Dorchester Neck, across the harbor from Boston, the morning after the Boston Tea Party. This is one of five relics of the Boston Tea Party (including tea caddies and a china punch bowl) in the collections of the MHS.

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GOP campaign mugs of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.

This unique set of porcelain mugs depicting the heads of Richard M. Nixon and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr., Republican candidates for president and vice president in the election of 1960, once belonged to U.S. Representative Richard B. Wigglesworth. The handles are in the shape of elephants' trunks.

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Phillis Wheatley's writing desk

Phillis Wheatley's Chippendale-style mahogany writing desk dates to about 1760. Wheatley was a slave of John Wheatley of Boston, who taught her to read English, Greek, and Latin. Her Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book of poetry by a black American, was published in London in 1773.

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Prescott and Linzee swords

The swords of Col. William Prescott and Capt. John Linzee, who fought on opposite sides at the Battle of Bunker Hill, were mounted in 1859 for the MHS. The swords cross through a wreath of olive leaves underneath the crests of the two families, who later came together through marriage.

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Henry Knox diary, 20 November 1775 - 13 January 1776

One of the most notable generals in George Washington's army was Henry Knox of Massachusetts. In a remarkable feat, he recovered cannon and mortars from Fort Ticonderoga and transported them to Cambridge. His diary documents the difficulties of this midwinter journey, which was plagued with obstacles.

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"Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa"

This photogravure of “Chief Tin-Tin-Meet-Sa,” taken by Joseph K. Dixon in 1913, forms part of the Rodman Wanamaker Indian expeditions photographs. The aim of the expeditions was to “accurately” depict and publicize Indian life. Wanamaker was particularly concerned that the “vanishing race” would be lost to modernity and relegated to reservations.

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Massachusetts Pine Tree penny

This 1776 Massachusetts Pine Tree copper penny, attributed to Paul Revere, was unearthed during an excavation in Boston's North End in the early 19th century. Since Massachusetts did not issue copper coins in 1776 (probably due to the scarcity of copper), this penny is the only known original.

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Diagram to show the drill the Anti-Man-Hunting League had for the running off of a slave or man-hunter

This pencil-and-watercolor diagram shows how members of the Boston Anti-Man-Hunting League would surround a slave-hunter, or "SH," until he consented to release a captured slave. The League was a secret society founded in Boston in 1854 to resist the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850.

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Genesis, chapter 1, verses 1-24, of the "Eliot Indian Bible"

In 1663, Christian missionary John Eliot published this translation of the Holy Bible in Massachuset, the language spoken by Native Americans in eastern New England. It was the first Bible printed in any language in North America and the largest single printing venture of the early colonial period.

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Letter from William Bradford to John Winthrop, 11 April 1638

In this letter to Gov. John Winthrop of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, Gov. William Bradford of Plymouth Colony refers to "Mrs. Huchingson" (Anne Hutchinson), who was labeled an "Antinomian" and heretic, banished from Massachusetts Bay, and excommunicated from the church. Bradford asks about the rumor that she delivered a stillborn baby to her supporter Mary Dyer.

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Newburgh Address, 15 March 1783

In the waning months of the Revolution, disgruntled—and long unpaid—army officers at Newburgh, New York, threatened open revolt. George Washington delivered this eloquent address, written in his hand, to quell their agitation by appealing to both their honor and their sentiments.

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John Hancock

John Singleton Copley was Boston's preeminent portrait painter in the 18th century. He painted this portrait of John Hancock after the 1768 seizure of one of Hancock's ships, the Liberty, which transformed the wealthy Boston merchant into a patriotic victim of English oppression.

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Indian archer weathervane

This copper weathervane, crafted by Shem Drowne, was installed atop Boston's Province House around 1716, when it was purchased for use as the official residence of the Massachusetts provincial governors. Unlike most weathervanes, the archer's arrow points with the wind rather than into it.

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Letter from Abraham Lincoln to Edward Everett, 20 November 1863

The day after his famous Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln wrote to Edward Everett, the day's featured speaker, to thank him for his praise of Lincoln's two-minute speech: "I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure." Everett's speech, by comparison, lasted two hours.

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Letter from Benjamin Franklin to [John Franklin] (copy), 25 December 1750

This copy of a letter from Benjamin Franklin, probably written to his brother John, describes his ill-fated electrical experiment on a turkey. Franklin had conducted several similar demonstrations in front of audiences at his home, but this time it didn't go exactly as planned.

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Cheyenne medicine pow-wow

This colorful scene was drawn by Bear's Heart, a Cheyenne warrior, during his captivity at Fort Marion in Florida after the Red River War of 1874-1875. While held by the U.S. military, Bear's Heart and other Indian prisoners depicted their lives in ledger art like this.

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Letter from Theodore Roosevelt to Henry Cabot Lodge, 3 July 1898

Theodore Roosevelt wrote this letter to his friend, Massachusetts senator Henry Cabot Lodge, from the trenches outside of Santiago, Cuba, after the Battle of San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War. In it, he betrays uncharacteristic anxiety about the outcome of the battle.

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Massachusetts Woman Suffrage Victory Parade : Instructions for Marchers

On 16 October 1915, supporters of women's suffrage in Massachusetts held a parade and rally in downtown Boston in support of a ballot measure to amend the state constitution and grant women the right to vote. This broadsheet contains instructions and, on the reverse, songs to be sung during the parade and rally.

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John Quincy Adams diary 41, entry for 29 March 1841, page 292

At the age of 73, former Pres. John Quincy Adams appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court and successfully defended the African captives who had seized the slave ship Amistad. Twenty days after the decision, Adams reflected on the fight against the slave trade in this diary entry.

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Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 2 November 1800

After spending his first night in the unfinished President's House (later called the White House), John Adams wrote to Abigail Adams: "I pray Heaven to bestow the best of Blessings on this House and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise Men ever rule under this roof."

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Letter from Eleanor "Nora" Saltonstall to Eleanor Brooks Saltonstall, 4 May 1918

Beginning in the fall of 1917, Eleanor “Nora” Saltonstall volunteered in several capacities in Europe during World War I, including as a secretary, supply manager, chauffeur, and overall jack-of-all-trades for Auto-Chir No. 7, an American Red Cross hospital unit attached to the French army. In this letter to her mother Eleanor Brooks Saltonstall, Nora described how useful she felt.

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Second Bikini Atoll atomic bomb test [2 seconds after detonation], 25 July 1946

In 1946, President Harry S. Truman appointed Leverett Saltonstall, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, to the bipartisan President's Evaluation Commission for Operation Crossroads, a series of nuclear tests designed to assess the effects of nuclear weapons on battleships. This photograph shows the Baker detonation at Bikini Atoll two seconds after detonation.

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U. S. Constitution (first printing) with annotations by Elbridge Gerry

This copy of the first printed draft of the U.S. Constitution shows the evolution of the text as it was amended during the debates at the Philadelphia Convention of 1787. Massachusetts delegate Elbridge Gerry, who refused to sign because it lacked a Bill of Rights, annotated the draft with his handwritten notes.

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Bertha Louise Cogswell drawing book, volume 3, page 13

Young Bertha Louise Cogswell filled seven volumes of drawing books with pencil and crayon pictures of her life in Cambridge, Mass., including games, parties, holidays, social calls, and travel. She not only drew scenes from her childhood, but also imagined scenes of her future life as a wife and mother.

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Letter from Wilder Dwight to Elizabeth A. Dwight, 17 September 1862

This letter was written by Lt. Col. Wilder Dwight on the field at Antietam. He was writing to his mother when fighting broke out. After the battle, when troops had withdrawn and he lay wounded, he finished the letter. He died two days later. The letter is stained with his blood.

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Three dogs at tea in garden

Marian "Clover" Hooper Adams took up photography in 1883, and her work was widely admired by contemporaries. Among her favorite subjects were her dogs Possum, Marquis, and Boojum, shown here enjoying a garden tea party. This photograph is part of a collection of three albums dating from 1883-1885.

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Monticello: Final elevation of the first version

This drawing shows the final elevation of Thomas Jefferson's famous home, Monticello, in Charlottesville, Virginia , as originally conceived by the self-taught architect. Begun about 1769, the house was nearly finished by 1782. The upper portico was apparently never completed, and the octagonal side bays are not shown.

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Bowl attributed to the Wampanoag

Samp, or nasaump, the Algonquian term for porridge made from ground Indian corn, was served in carved elm burls like this one, crafted by the Wampanoag tribe. Only seven Algonquian bowls are known to exist. Purchased for the MHS in 1804, it is believed the bowl once belonged to Metacom, or King Philip, the Wampanoag chief who united the fractious New England tribes against the expanding population of colonists.

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John Winthrop journal, History of New England (manuscript), volume 1, page 1

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Samuel Sewall diary, 1685-1703, page with entry for 19 September 1692

Samuel Sewall served as one of the judges at the infamous Salem witch trials in 1692 and, on 19 September, described in his diary the gruesome torture and death of Giles Corey. Corey was pressed to death "for standing mute," that is, refusing to answer his indictment for witchcraft.

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Sarah Gooll Putnam diary 23, part of entry for 1 August 1902, page 118

Sarah Gooll Putnam kept a diary for over 50 years, starting in 1860 at the age of nine. These diaries document her life as an artist in Boston and her extensive travels throughout America and Europe. Included are ink and pencil sketches, as well as watercolors, like this one painted in Martha's Vineyard, Mass.

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"Mess Hall, Bathroom, Barracks. Japanese Relocation Center. Heart Mt. Wyoming."

This watercolor painting by Estelle Ishigo depicts the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, one of ten internment camps established for Japanese Americans during World War II. Ishigo was recruited as a “Documentary Reporter” for the War Relocation Authority and recorded the internment experience in illustrations, line drawings, oil, and watercolors.

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Rhinoceros sketch and poem

Long before Edward Estlin Cummings was known as E. E. Cummings, one of 20th-century America's most popular poets, his words and sketches revealed a delightful childhood imagination. In this youthful work, completed about 1901, he was already experimenting with the unorthodox capitalization and punctuation that later became his trademark.

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Margaret Hall and a soldier standing outside an American Red Cross canteen tent

Massachusetts-born Margaret Hall worked as a member of the American Red Cross in France during World War I. On her return home, she compiled a typescript narrative from the letters and diaries that she wrote overseas, illustrating the text with her own photographs of soldiers, canteens, and the extensive destruction following the war.

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Letter from Lyndon B. Johnson to Henry Cabot Lodge, 12 April 1967

With this letter, President Lyndon B. Johnson accepted Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr.'s resignation as ambassador to the government of Vietnam in the midst of the Vietnam War. Johnson commended Lodge's “courage and patriotism” and acknowledged the good he'd done for the people of South Vietnam and the United States.

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William Crowninshield Endicott

John Singer Sargent was one of the leading portrait painters of his generation. This portrait of the distinguished Boston lawyer William C. Endicott, Jr. is representative of Sargent's exquisite style. Endicott served as president of the MHS from 1927 to 1936.

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Unus Americanus ex Virginia. Aetat 23

This unidentified 23-year-old Virginia native was drawn from life by Wenceslaus Hollar in the conventional half-length view used by European artists of the time. Hollar was a Bohemian artist from Prague who worked in London as an engraver from 1637 to 1644.

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Mrs. Baker

This portrait of Mrs. Baker by an unidentified artist is one of a set of eight portraits of family members painted in London in the 1670s. The naturalistic painting shows the pouches under her eyes, loose jowls, and prominent nose. Mrs. Baker exemplifies middle-class prosperity, both in her dress and her accoutrements.

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Paine Family Press Cupboard

This press cupboard, one of the finest examples of colonial New England joined furniture, has remained virtually unchanged in the 340 years since its creation. More than a dozen pieces attributed to this unidentified cabinet maker's shop, distinguished by their complex joinery and sophisticated designs, remain in public or private collections in New York and New England.

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The Wonders of the Invisible World

Clergyman, author, and scholar Cotton Mather became known as the chief apologist for the Salem witchcraft trials with the publication of his The Wonders of the Invisible World in 1693. The book was controversial because it seemed to contradict Mather's earlier arguments for moderation and leniency.

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New England Threepence

By an act of 26-27 May 1652, the Massachusetts General Court established a mint in Boston, trespassing upon the Crown's prerogative to mint coins. These small coins represent New England's growing sense of identity as separate from the mother country and its determination to regulate its own economy without British interference.

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Letter from Howard Carter to Kingsmill Marrs, 25 October 1908

English Egyptologist (and later discoverer of Tutankhamun's tomb) Howard Carter wrote this letter to Kingsmill Marrs from an archaeological dig in Luxor, Egypt. The letter contains descriptions of beautiful scenes resulting from the flooding of the Nile River, as well as a prominent sketch of Queen Nefertari on the first page.

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Americae Nova Tabula

Dutch cartographer Willem Blaeu's colorful map of the Americas incorporates rich detail and decorative elements. Top and side panels contain illustrations of cities, harbors, and native people of various regions, and the oceans are full of ships and sea monsters. While most contemporary mapmakers depicted California as an island, Blaeu rendered it as a peninsula.

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Columnan à Præfecto prima navigationelocatam venerantur Floridenses

This engraving, after a watercolor by Jacques le Moyne, shows Chief Athore and René de Laudonnière at the site of Jean Ribaut's column marking France's annexation of Florida. The engraving was published in 1591 in Theodor de Bry's America, the first illustrated general account of the discovery and exploration of the Americas.

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Receipt to William Pincheon [Pynchon] for £25 in payment for stock in the Massachusetts Bay Company

William Pynchon was one of the original English Puritan founders of the Massachusetts Bay Company. This receipt reflects his £25 purchase of a share of stock in the "adventure." He left England for the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630 and was instrumental in the settlement of Roxbury and Springfield, Mass.

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Letter from John Noble to Sandy Noble, 15 April 1944

Air combat intelligence officer John Noble was serving in the South Pacific during World War II when he wrote a series of letters to his young children. He illustrated the letters with exquisite and colorful drawings like the three native island children, a landscape with a hut and canoe, and a volcano in this birthday letter to his son Sandy.

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Matanzas, Cuba. Dutch capture Spanish Treasure fleet, 1628

This medal commemorates a naval battle during the Eighty Years' War in which a Dutch squadron led by Admiral Piet Heyn defeated an entire Spanish treasure fleet in Matanzas Bay, Cuba. Struck in silver captured during that action, the medal features a map of the Western hemisphere and a depiction of the battle.

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Pocket watch belonging to Cotton Mather

This watch, made by master clockmaker Daniel Quare of London, belonged to the Puritan clergyman Cotton Mather. According to family tradition, it was "carried by him among the Indians, who, hearing the ticking, were frightened and thought he carried the Devil in his pocket, and ran away from him."

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