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

African American History Seminar; Online Event

Emancipation In America, Seen Through One Man's Dreadlocks

3Dec 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

1864. A ship leaves its New England port carrying a USCT regiment to fight Confederates on the Louisiana front. But on the way, a showdown takes place when Pvt. John ...

Author Talk; Online Event

Bank Notes and Shinplasters: The Rage for Paper Money in the Early Republic

7Dec 5:30PM 2020
This is an online program

Before Civil War greenbacks and a national bank network established a uniform federal currency in the United States, loosely regulated banks saturated the early American ...

History of Women, Gender and Sexuality Seminar; Online Event

“To Make Her Own Bargains with Boats:” Gender, Labor, and Freedom in the Western Steamboat ...

8Dec 5:15PM 2020
This is an online program

Free and enslaved Black women have been rendered nearly invisible in the historical andpopular imagination of the antebellum steamboat world. This essay examines how ...

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