The American Antiquarian Society holds approximately 35,000 miscellaneous, uncataloged pamphlets published between 1841 and 1876. The importance of the pamphlet medium in nineteenth-century America may be overlooked by scholars, even though in fact, pamphlets frequently generated an instant response to governmental, political, educational, religious, and social affairs and events. The controversial issues and debates presented through pamphlets of that era reflect the extraordinary range, competence, and eccentricity of the authors, ranging from the very famous to the most obscure.
An estimated 15 percent of these publications are found to be unrecorded in the National Union Catalog: Pre-1956 Imprints. Other items appear to be among only a handful or fewer surviving copies. The wide range of subject matter includes lectures, reports, essays, speeches, and treatises on education, social conditions, morals, politics, government, labor, industry, canals, railroads, agriculture, health and medicine, religion and theology, prison reform and management, temperance, and women's rights. The largest category appears to be sermons of all descriptions. Other significant genres include Fourth of July orations, congressional speeches, spiritualist messages, poetry, and collegiate lectures and inaugural addresses.
The collection also contains a large number of uncataloged offprints of modern historical articles and other twentieth-century pamphlet material.
The collection is stored in acid-free boxes and arranged alphabetically by author, or chronologically for those lacking a personal author. Unfortunately, there is no subject access to these materials. However, those conducting research about a particular educator, politician, scientist, reformer, theologian, or other author may uncover a number of previously unknown publications by that individual.
- Carol R. Kanis, Cataloger; Carolyn A. Allen, former Acquisitions Administrator; updated by Alan N. Degutis, Head of Cataloging