Our class trip to the American Antiquarian Society was my first visit there, but it won’t be my last. To me personally physical artifacts are something that intrigues me, it boggles my mind that things created and designed in the 17th century are still present today. The Antiquarian society does an incredible job of preserving those pieces of history and showing that they still apply to today’s world, and how we got to where we are today. I carefully looked at each document and book during our visit (even George Washington’s hair), and discovered a few that caught my eye. The first item I looked at was a poster from the American Post Office from the year 1844. The poster was extremely well preserved and was still legible. The contents of the poster discussed where they have established post offices, and discusses what they carry, and the price of each item. The item was printed in New York, and to my observation looked like it was an informative poster to show the people all the post office offers. This piece like many others we observed, mains purpose was to be a source of news/information to the public. (1)
The second piece I looked at was the Herald from New York from 1835. My first observation was that the writing was miniscule, I found it hard to see what was written on the document. The paper itself was extremely well kept, there were very few stains and no rips. The contents of the newspaper were common, just like the ones we looked at in class there were postings for houses. There were also postings for book-binding services, and food for sale. There was also a very informative piece on local banks, in the ad they were discussing loans, and money, and were discussing the directors of the bank and how they can help the public. Most of the other contents were ads to different banks, food sources, and other business in the area. (2)
The final piece, and the one that caught my eye the most was “The Progress of the Century”, published by Currier and Ives in 1876. This piece caught my eye because it was used in history class last year. I remember briefly discussing the picture, and analyzing what it is trying to say about the progress of the world, and understanding how much progress has been made since the photo. The photo shows trains, steamboats, and telegraph lines. There is a man in the back binding a book, and there is a man right in the center using a telegraph to send a message. There are men in the back using a printing press, and among all these things the biggest message is change and progress. Seeing this piece in material form especially since it has followed in my curriculum shows its importance in the history of media and communication. This photo show me, the viewer how much America has progressed, and is still progressing to this day. The piece shows the important aspects of media and communication that have allowed us the technology we have today. (3)
Just like “The Progress of the Century” piece, I also think that the two other pieces I observed have allowed me to understand media and communication more. The Herald represents the importance of newspapers, back then and even today. Newspapers have been used as an informative source to the public for hundreds of years, and the popularity has not stopped. Although we have viewed copies of early American newspapers in class, being able to see first-hand a paper from the 1830’s showed me just how important media and communication is to history and our world today. Just like the newspaper, the post office poster showed me the importance of media and media travel in America. In this poster, it states the locations of post offices, today there are millions of post offices and still growing. The artifacts are rightly kept by the antiquarian society and show that everything we have today is because of progress in history.
- “American post office. : The American Letter Mail Company have established post offices in New-York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston,” (n.p., 1844).
- Herald (New York, N.Y. : 1835).
- The Progress of the century (New York: Currier & Ives, 1876), facsimile.