Visit to AAS!

On our visit to AAS, I really gained a new perspective for media and communications in early American history. It gave you a new appreciation for how these people had to communicate with each other, and the value of time today. I looked at all of the artifacts that were laid out for us, but some definitely stood out more than others to me.

One thing that stood out to me was the Pocket Almanac. The Almanac was from 1794, though it looked to be in tough shape, it looked pretty good for being over 200 years old. The Almanac contained a lot of different information, such as the rule to find “high water” in certain places along the coast. There was also blank pages sewn into it so the owners could jot down what ever they want, unfortunately, it was way too difficult to try and read it. Also contained in the Almanac are the days and months with the important holidays, and what day they fall on. What I found rally interesting was how much on astronomy was in there. There was information on eclipses and the moon. I just found that such an interesting aspect for that to be contained in a pocket almanac. As for media and communications, the Pocket Almanac was extremely influential. It was small, and obviously pocket sized, so it was mobile and allowed it to be carried around on a person. It was very important to early media and communication, because it held important and vital information like holidays and high tide. (1)

The second thing that stood out to me was the Herald, a newspaper from New York and from September 8, 1835. At this time in history, newspapers were one of the most, if not the most, important forms of communication. Contained in this newspaper were things such as medicine, wood and chemicals, all lumped together in one column and one headline. It is crazy to think about communication all lumped together like that. Today we would consider those three categories way different from one another. Looking at the newspaper, it is amazing to see all the different information squeezed into a limited space. There is lost and found (with rewards), real estate, marketing and so forth. This is where communication between the people ran through, and was really essential to get information around to the general population. Everything important that was going on came through newspapers, which is why there was such varied information and subjects in them. (2)

Thirdly, what stood out to me was the American Letter Mail Company pamphlet I guess, about the American Post Office. This was interesting because this was a form of communication about communication. What I mean by that is that this was a letter, or pamphlet going around to people, saying more post offices have been opened in New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston. No surprise it was these cities, because they were probably four of the largest at the time. It also goes on to say there is daily transit to Philadelphia and New York, so letters are getting around much faster so communication is speeding up. Also happening according to this is, lowered prices for postage and stamps, but only for letters. This all comes in 1844, when there were reforms in the Post Office in the 40s, and you see that here. Letter communication no longer takes weeks to months, it is now much more rapid, extended to more places and cheaper, so available to a larger population. This is around the time period in which communication spikes, because of these postal reforms. (3)

AAS gave us a great look into the world of early media and communication, and even though there were many more artifacts I could have used, I feel as though these really showed us how it worked in early America.

 

 

  • Anonymous diary, Wilmington, DE, 1794. Diaries (unidentified) collection, 1760-1855, AAS, vol. 9.
  • Herald (New York, N.Y. : 1835).
  • “American post office. : The American Letter Mail Company have established post offices in New-York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Boston,” (n.p., 1844).
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4 thoughts on “Visit to AAS!

  1. I also thought the almanac was interesting. I thought about writing about it in my blog, but as you pointed out, the handwriting was very difficult to read; that was one reason I chose not to. But the almanac must have been very handy. I think something like that would have remained useful for a long time throughout history. Though it was so compact, it had so much useful information. I feel like it wasn’t until smartphones came around that we could have something that could replace such an almanac. And even then, I feel that a printed almanac still would have some advantages over a smartphone.

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    • Interestingly enough, in a previous comment, someone brought up that they so happened to find a 2017 Farmers Almanac at their work. She said it contained a lot of the same information today as in 1794. I agree that something like a smartphone can be compared to one because it is still a way to keep helpful information and to write notes. I never really thought of that until now! It is interesting to see how culture and society has developed from something as simple as a pocket almanac, to the crazy technological advances we now have today!

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  2. I loved looking at the Almanac too. I talked about it in my post, because people probably carried these around all day with them, just incase they thought of something to write down. The one thing I wished was being able to read the handwriting to see what people had to say, but just being able to see them using it and writing things down proves the point. The funny thing is, that I had gone home that weekend and noticed my job was selling the 2017 Farmers Almanac and I decided to take a look just for the fun. But the cool thing was that they still do have the same information in it as the one from 1794. With just knowing that people still read these things blows my mind everyday!

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  3. I find that very interesting that almanacs still contain the same information today as they did back in 1794, I did not know that! What stood out to me the most about the Pocket Almanac in AAS, and what I wrote in my blog was how interested the people were in astronomy, the moon cycle and high tide. I am just curious if anything stood out to you, especially now that you got to look at a recent one?

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