Philip F. Gura’s brilliant new book traces the development of the American Antiquarian Society library and the role its librarians have played as collectors, scholars of American writing and publishing, and stewards of the nation's history.
Founded in 1812 by Isaiah Thomas, the patriot printer and leading publisher of the new nation, the American Antiquarian Society reflects his vision for the printed record of America's history. Over two centuries this learned society has become widely recognized as a national treasure. The collections, including Thomas's extensive library of books and newspapers, are an indispensable resource for everyone interested in studying the United States to 1876. Scholars, artists, and writers benefit from the library collections, the fellowship programs, lectures, seminars and conferences.
Gura focuses on the Society's intellectual development as a cultural repository of extraordinary consequence, with careful attention given to the people who have shaped and nurtured it into the 21st century. He outlines the history of the American Antiquarian Society from its founder Isaiah Thomas to his successors Christopher Columbus Baldwin, Samuel Foster Haven, Edmund Mills Barton, Clarence Brigham, Clifford K. Shipton, Marcus A. McCorison, and Ellen S. Dunlap.
In 2012 the Society celebrates its bicentennial as a leading independent research library, a pioneer in the digitization of its collections, and a centre of scholarship for the study of American culture. Published on the occasion of the Society's bicentennial, this unique, illustrated history is scholarly in purpose, rich in insight, and brimming with narrative detail.