American Antiquarian Society Visit

The first item that I looked at during our visit to the American Antiquarian Society was the pocket almanac. The almanac was very fragile, as it looked to be used a great deal (the American Antiquarian Society did a great job of preserving such a fragile item). Looking at this item in person showed just how important an almanac was to have around and keep on your person. The almanac was clearly used all the time and carried around at almost every occasion. This tells me that the pocket almanac was one of the most widely used forms of media in early America. Having important dates, holidays, and keeping track of things one had to do was integral to the people at this time. Hence, the idea of being able to communicate the important dates and weather, as well as being able to write notes to oneself shows the importance of being able to keep important information on themselves. Seeing it in person made me realize that there were very many different forms of media in the United States and the information that was communicated varied based on the media that was chosen to communicate the information. Before looking at the almanac, I did not realize all the different types of information that needed to be communicated to Americans, because the pocket almanacs communicated information that was overlooked.[1]

The next item that I looked at in person was the broadside for the Post Office, and this was very interesting to look at in person. Reading this item in person showed me that the Post Office was integral to communication in America, especially in New York and Philadelphia, which had mail sent twice daily, instead of the normal in other cities which was once a day. The broadside stated the purposed of the Post Office, which was to carry letters at the most convenience for the cheapest price for the people. This shows why the Post Office became so popular as time progressed. This broadside also shows me that in in 1844, people wanted to know about the Post Office, since the institution felt they needed to post a broadside that would inform the people about the roles and goals of the Post Office. Interestingly enough, the Post Office stated that letters containing money would not be received, which was similar to the post I had last week on Henkin. This broadside was a fascinating in understanding exactly what the Post Office wanted to accomplish and showing that people were interested in understanding how the Post Office can help them. [2]

The last item that I looked at in the American Antiquarian Society was the Graphic Facsimile titled, “The Progress of the Century.” Seeing this in person made me realize the power of art and how every detail in the painting was there to communicate a message to the people. This facsimile shows the evolution of the communication system in America, as forms of communication were shipped in trains and steam boats, which became extremely popular forms of transportation in the nineteenth century. By looking at the piece of artwork in person, I was able to look at the intricacies of artwork at this time and how each detail was in included for a specific purpose. If I was just looking at this piece of artwork on the internet then I would not have been able to see these details and would not understand how these details were important to communicating information to people.[3] Overall, the trip to the American Antiquarian Society was a great experience that showed the importance of looking at sources in person.



[1] The New-England almanack, or, Lady’s and gentleman’s diary, for the year of our Lord Christ 1788. Providence: Printed and sold, wholesale and retail, by John Carter, at the Post-Office, at Shakespeare’s Head, near the State-House, 1787.

[2] “American post office. : The American Letter Mail Company have established post offices in New-York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston,” (n.p., 1844).

[3] The Progress of the century (New York: Currier & Ives, 1876), facsimile.


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