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

In honor of our 225th anniversary—and this time of year—the MHS hosted a tournament to select the favorite object from the Society’s collection. The 64 competitors, divided into four centuries of American history, were hand-picked to showcase the range of items in our collection.

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Click completed rounds to view final vote counts.

FINAL RESULTS FOR:Round 2: 18th & 20th Centuries

Matchup 1

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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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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Matchup 2

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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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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Matchup 3

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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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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Matchup 4

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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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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Matchup 5

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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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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Matchup 6

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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"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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Matchup 7

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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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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Matchup 8

"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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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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