AAS Visit

Although it was not my first, or last, time visiting the American Antiquarian Society, I never leave without new knowledge or perspectives on the past. During our visit, I decided to really look into three of the items that had been laid out in front of us: the book of The Maryland Journal, an original copy of Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography, and the The Herald newspaper. Although it seems to be a bit of an eclectic mix that I decided to string together, I found a lot to compare and contrast in between the three, as well as analyze just in themselves.

In the big book of The Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser [1]  (or MJBA), I found that as I shifted throughout the book and looked at the many different issues within it the paper slowly got worse. The edges of the papers in the issues closer to the beginning of the book weren’t as bent and abused as those that were closer towards the back. I thought that it could’ve been due to a lower quality of paper, figuring that the further into the Revolution they got, the lower in quality the paper became. Less money maybe or even a cut off from English trade, either could be a reason as to why quality could’ve dropped. Then I started talking to my brother about what I saw and showing him some pictures and he pointed out that somebody could’ve just spilled something on the papers or mishandled them. (I’m still sticking with my theory.)

Something I noticed, however, was that the type and layout of the MJBA was completely different from that of The Herald [2]. The type of the MJBA seemed to be larger and more pronounced than that of The Herald. The columns on the the MJBA are also much larger, although fewer, than that of the Herald. The Herald also seems more crammed than the MJBA. The articles don’t have as much space between them, meaning that the title spaces of each article are really condensed in The Herald than in the MJBA. I believe it could be that the areas that they were in were different, both geographically and population wise. The MJBA was in Baltimore, which may have had a larger population than the surrounding towns and area, but it is still not nearly as densely populated as somewhere like New York City, which was precisely where The Herald was made. So since the population in NYC was much higher and diverse, the newspaper probably tried to figure out how to cover all aspects of life in their paper. There was also a time difference in between the two papers I looked at. The MJBA was mostly in the late 1700s, whereas the Herald  was in 1835 and this might’ve also affected the way in which newspapers were set up and the population and news circulation at the time.

The third piece of media that I focused was Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography [3] and wasn’t the same format as the first two; it was in the form of a book.  I really liked seeing how a newspaper and book had different quality’s in their paper and print. Maybe it was because the language was different, as well as the place in which it was printed, that made the format and lettering to be more spaced out than the newspapers were. The print was also much more defined to me in the book than the newspaper. It was also very easy to compare the book to modern books and to recognize it as such. The paper was much thicker and seemed to be better quality than the newspapers that I previously talked about.

Between them all, I really enjoyed just being able to touch and interact with pieces of history. Comparing and contrasting between them all, as well as comparing them to what I am accustomed to having today; books, newspapers, etc. Holding these objects also reminds me how easily that these items could’ve been lost or destroyed, and how amazing it is that they are still here. I mean I have a hard enough time keeping my past assignments from getting dirty or stepped on in my car.

[1] The Maryland journal, and the Baltimore advertiser. Baltimore, 1773-1794. (Volume for 1777-1778)

[2] Herald (New York, N.Y. : 1835).

[3] Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790. Mémoires de la vie privée de Benjamin Franklin (Paris: Chez Buisson, 1791).



3 thoughts on “AAS Visit

  1. I also really enjoyed looking at the journal full of newspapers- I wasn’t expecting to see such a huge collection of them so it was really interesting. Talking about the lower quality paper was also really cool, because honestly if I hadn’t seen it with this class I probably would not have even noticed that it was changing and why that was.


  2. I also looked at the Herald while at AAS and wrote about it in my blog post. Just like you the main thing I observed was the extremely small print, and squished together information. Something I never really thought of was why this print could be this way. I think you did a really great job of analyzing the differences between the different artifacts, and thinking of the time periods and places they came from and how that could have an impact on the look of them!


  3. When I was looking at both of the newspapers, I didn’t notice the difference in the type at all. Maybe because I didn’t look at it thoroughly in the way you did, but it is amazing to now look back at the picture I took to see it. I remember looking a the MJBA with you and noticing that the quality of the paper did in fact get worse and worse as the issues went by. Yes, they could have been mishandled, but the chances of that over the fact that these were papers from the revolutionary era, I think your brother is wrong (lol). I also agree with the fact that looking at these documents really did open my eyes about the history of communications more clearly.


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