AAS is a non-profit institution supported largely by both historical and
current gifts from individuals, corporations and foundations; and the need
to raise funds is a common theme running through the Council reports from
the beginning. Isaiah Thomas was eloquent in his appeals for funds, even
prefacing his will with an admonition to his fellow citizens to contribute
to institutions established for the public good. In 1820 Thomas provided
the site, $2,000, and 150,000 bricks for the construction of the first
Antiquarian Hall. His legacy, received in 1831, was given with the
stipulation that fireproof wings be added to the original
structure. Income from endowment funds, the first given by Isaiah Thomas,
provide about sixty percent of the Society's annual budget with another
ten percent coming from unrestricted gifts to the annual fund.
The second library (1852) was constructed on land donated by Stephen
Salisbury II, who served as president of the Society from 1854 to
1884. Salisbury contributed most of the funds for the building as well as
for an addition built in 1878. The present Antiquarian Hall, built in
1910, was funded by a bequest of $200,000 from Stephen Salisbury III, AAS
president from 1887 to 1905. It was constructed on land that originally
been given to the Worcester Art Museum but which AAS exchanged for the
Salisbury Mansion, which had been bequeathed to this institution.
The construction of an administrative wing in 1971 set a new pattern in
fundraising for the Society when it was not underwritten by a single donor
or a few wealthy donors. Like the 1971 addition, the construction of the
recently completed book stack is made possible by gifts from dozens of
foundations and corporations and hundreds of individuals. The first
endowment campaign for the Society, which began in 1926, used professional
consultants for the planning but was carried out entirely by volunteers. A
department dedicated to fundraising was not established until 1968.
The first development officer, the late Elliot B. Knowlton, was appointed
1968, after the Council had voted to establish a capital campaign to endow
professional positions and for construction of an underground addition to
Antiquarian Hall. He served in this capacity until his retirement in
1976. In 1968 the semiannual newsletter, now called Almanac, was
instituted to bring news of the activities of the Society to members and
A more ambitious campaign, The Isaiah Thomas Fund, was announced in
October 1982, and the successful completion of the $8,700,000 drive was
hailed at the celebration of the Society's 175th Anniversary in October
1987. At the spring meeting of the membership in April 1999, Building,
Collecting, Connecting: A Capital Campaign for AAS, with a $12 million
goal--$8 million for building and $4 million for new endowment--was
launched. It will be completed by December 31, 2003.
The second development officer, Mary V.C. Callahan, was appointed to
succeed Mr. Knowlton in 1976. She was succeeded, in turn, by Lynette
P. Sodha in 1987 and John M. Keenum in 1996.
- Mary V.C. Callahan, former Development Officer, and Lynnette
P. Sodha, former Director of Development; updated by John
M. Keenum, Vice President for Development.