A detailed list or record of the items resources held within a collection.


The Society holds over 2,000 pieces of Colonial era currency. This includes Continental printings done under the direction of the British authorities and Colonial printings often done in secret. During the Revolution, Massachusetts currency was engraved in Boston by Paul Revere and Nathaniel Hurd. Later, hundreds of private American banks sprung up, each with its own distinct note. By the Civil War, there were over 1500 individual banks. From these banks, major firms were created, such as The American Bank Note Co., and the Continental Bank Note Co.

Election Ballots

Election Ballots have been used in political and other types of elections for centuries. Sometimes called a ticket, these ballots listed the names of people who are hoping to be elected. In early American political elections, ballots were specific to a party, listing every person from that party who was running for office. The voter would turn in the party ballot to the voting station. By 1888, many states began instituting secret ballot voting by supplying voters with ballots that listed several parties in columns, allowing the voter to choose a particular party of individual.

Worcester Portrait Prints Collection

The Society's collection of Worcester Portrait Prints contains just over one thousand images of prominent citizens of the city of Worcester, Massachusetts, including members of the Davis, Bancroft, Thomas and Salisbury families. Men of industry, civic leaders, clergymen and scholars are all represented here by printed likenesses, many of which appeared in books and newspapers during the nineteenth century. A handful of women also appear in the Worcester collection, including portraits of Dorthea Lynde Dix and Abby Kelley Foster.


The American Antiquarian Society collection of ephemera includes several thousand tickets for all sorts of activities including train excursions, dances and lectures. The tickets range in date from the eighteenth century to 1910 and, like those of today, are small, sturdy objects printed on heavy paper or card stock. They were required for admittance to events or as receipt for payment for travel or services purchased. Tickets kept a crowd moving and under control. One promoter noted in his advertisement for a multi-part lecture on electricity, "TICKETS to be had at Mr.

Sheet Music

The collection of sheet music at the American Antiquarian Society consists of about 60,000 pieces of instrumental, vocal, secular, and religious music by both American and foreign composers that were printed through 1880 (more than 4,100 compositions were printed in the United States before 1826). Although Boston imprints are in the majority, the collection also embraces works published in many other sections of the country, notably New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago, Cincinnati, New Orleans, and San Francisco.

Photographs of Actors and Performers

By the second half of the nineteenth century, photography was firmly established as the portrait medium of choice. Images were routinely made of politicians, businessmen, and families. Performers quickly realized they could promote their work with photographs and sat for many images of themselves in costume or in elegant evening attire. These images were sold by photographers to the general public. At first, performers photographs were sold in the cartes-de-visite format but these were later replaced by cabinet photographs.

Maps and Atlases

The Society's collection of 10,000 maps focuses primarily on the United States, although there are maps representing all parts of the world. The strengths of the collection are maps of New England of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and, more specifically, maps of Massachusetts. AAS is in the process of cataloging and digitizing its cartographic holdings.

Alexander Anderson Collection

The American Antiquarian Society holds thousands of examples of wood engraved illustrations created by Alexander Anderson (1775-1870), whose work appears inside almanacs, Bibles, medical texts, periodicals, and children’s books and also on broadsides and ephemera.

Anderson has been called the first skilled wood engraver in America and his talent and careful attention to detail helped animate and enliven publications during his more than eighty year career. His biographers called him 'The Father of American Wood Engraving,’ a phrase that is also inscribed on Anderson's tombstone.

Cross Family Collection Box List

The inventory listed in this site consists of 29 boxes and 8 oversized folders of material dating from the late 18th through the early 20th centuries with the bulk of the collection falling between 1870 and 1890.


The Antiquarian Society houses one of the country's largest collections of early American stereographs. Stereographs, an early form of three-dimensional photograph, were a major vehicle for popular education and entertainment in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Many nineteenth-century photographers now regarded as fine artists produced significant bodies of work in stereograph form; among these were Timothy O'Sullivan, Carleton Watkins, and Eadweard Muybridge.