Collections Overview

The stacks at Antiquarian Hall

The stacks at Antiquarian Hall

Books & Pamphlets

The books and pamphlets in the Society's collection touch on every subject in American history and life through the year 1900. The collection has grown into the largest collection of pre-1821 United States imprints anywhere in the world. In addition to works printed in the United States themselves and their territories, the collection includes smaller numbers of Caribbean and Canadian imprints. The Society maintains strong collections of twentieth and twenty-first century materials that relate to the pre-1900 period. For questions please contact the curator of books and digital collections, Elizabeth Watts Pope, epope [at] (epope[at]mwa[dot]org).

Children's Literature

The Children's Literature collection at the American Antiquarian Society is, within its scope, the world's finest. Extending from the sober prose of Thomas Shepard's children's catechism, Short Catechism Familiarly Teaching the Knowledge of God (1654), to the cheerful images of children at play in Young America's ABC and Pretty Picture Book (1900), the collection, now numbering over 26,000 volumes, chronicles the emergence of an American literature for children. For questions, please contact the curator of children's literature, Laura Wasowicz, lwasowicz [at] (lwasowicz[at]mwa[dot]org)

Graphic Arts

The graphic arts collections at the American Antiquarian Society are diverse and expansive, incorporating over 400,000 historic American objects subdivided into 135 collection areas. The department cares for prints, broadsides, maps, ephemera, sheet music, drawings and photographs. It also includes historical objects such as historic furniture, ceramics and former “cabinet” objects including a lock of George Washington’s hair and tea from the Boston Tea Party. Accessing graphic arts collection materials though records in the general catalog is possible for much of the collection. For information on obtaining digital images please review the step-by-step guide. For questions, please contact the associate curator of graphic arts, Christine Morris, cmorris [at] (cmorris[at]mwa[dot]org).


The Society's manuscript department contains rich resources for the study of American history and culture. Numbering over 2,000 collections and well over a million items, the Society's manuscripts span the years from 1613 into the twentieth century. The manuscripts collection includes family papers, business records, diaries, account books, and organizational records, all with a focus on New England. The manuscripts department also houses the Society's own archives. For questions, please contact the curator of manuscripts, Ashley Cataldo, acataldo [at] (acataldo[at]mwa[dot]org).

Newspapers & Periodicals

The American Antiquarian Society is the nation's chief repository for newspapers published in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in the United States, Canada, and the West Indies. The Society has accumulated over 18,000 newspaper titles. Today, AAS has more than two million issues on five miles of shelving. The Society's periodicals collection and collection of amateur newspapers are also extensive. For additional questions about the newspapers and periodicals collection, please contact  the curator of newspapers & periodicals, Vincent Golden, vgolden [at] (vgolden[at]mwa[dot]org).