Facts and Figures About the Newspaper Collection
The American Antiquarian Society collects newspapers in the following areas:
- American newspapers up to 1876 except for the following states; Arkansas, Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon and Texas to 1880; Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming to 1890; Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah to 1895; and Alaska to 1900
- West Indies and Canada to 1876
- Great Britain to the end of the Revolutionary War
- Central American countries to 1876 in English
Clarence S. Brigham's History and Bibliography of American Newspapers, 1690-1820 (Worcester: AAS, 1947) in 2 volumes is the sine qua non when it comes to research in the history of early American newspapers. It lists 2,120 newspapers and inventories of individual institutions. At the time of publication, the American Antiquarian Society held 1496 titles or 71% from this period. Not only that AAS held the only known file for 118 titles (this most likely has changed since the start of the U.S. Newspaper Project). This is the finest collection of early American newspapers in the world. Since 1947 the collection has continued to grow through acquisitions including titles not recorded in Brigham. Our most recent addition is The Republican (Ovid, New York) for May 26, 1820. Only one other issue is known for this title, and this did not come to light until after 1990.
Highlights from our holdings for this period include:
- The Boston News-Letter the first continuously published newspaper on this continent. AAS has the first issue of April 24, 1704 as part of its run through 1776.
- The New-York Weekly Journal printed by Peter and Catharine Zenger from 1734 to 1751.
- Ulster County Gazette (Kingston, NY) AAS has one of 2 known copies of the January 4, 1800 issue reporting on George Washington's death. Starting in 1826 this newspaper was reprinted over 64 times.
Not surprisingly, the depth and breadth of newspaper holdings at AAS are greatest for the eastern United States. The collection includes over 1600 titles for Massachusetts, 1300 for Pennsylvania, 1500 for New York, 840 for Ohio, 300 or more from Georgia, California, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, over 200 from Georgia, Connecticut, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and over 100 each for Colorado., Minnesota, Nebraska, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. While the Society has many for a few western states such as Iowa (446) and Kansas (176), the runs for those titles are often limited to one or two issues.
The collection includes many ethnic newspapers. Of the 5,000 newspapers and periodicals listed in Karl Arndt and May Olson's The German-Language Press in the Americas, 1732 1955 (Munich, 1980), the Society has 451 of the pre-1877 titles. Its holdings also contain seventy-one of the 169 titles in Edward Larocque Tinker's Bibliography of French Newspapers and Periodicals in Louisiana (Worcester, 1933) and twenty of the thirty-five pre-1877 titles in Brown's Checklist of Negro Newspapers in the United States (Jefferson City, Mo., 1946)
The Society's reference and secondary collections contains the works necessary to support research in its newspaper holdings. These holdings are found in Brigham, Winifred Gregory's American Newspapers 1821-1936 (New York, 1937), Newspapers in Microform 1964-1985 (Washington, DC, 1985), The USNP National Union Lis t, 3rd ed. (Dublin, Ohio, 1989), Waldo Lincoln's Bibliography of West Indian Newspapers in the American Antiquarian Society (Worcester, MA, 1926), and in a wide variety of specialized bibliographies, checklists, and union lists of various geographical regions and topics. State, county, and town histories found in the Society's local history collection provide descriptions of newspapers as do histories of journalism and of specific newspapers.