Funding from the Ruth Miller Memorial Philanthropic Fund enabled Houghton to catalog a collection of American broadsides this summer. In a spectacularly productive two-month period, graduate student Agnes Coakley cataloged 770 broadsides, making them readily available to readers for the first time.
Although most were printed in the 19th-century, the earliest, Earthquakes, tokens of God’s power and wrath, was printed in 1744, and a small number were issued as late as the mid-twentieth century. The collection includes many ballads on all topics. Of those not in verse, many report current events such as crimes, hangings, disasters (fire and flood), elections, and battles of the War of 1812 or the Civil War. There are also many broadsides or small booklets detailing the order of services or exercises for schools, churches, and temperance societies throughout New England.
Although the broadsides were acquired at different times and from different sources, many were the gift of Harvard Professor George Lyman Kittredge. Prior to this project, some were stored in rough alphabetical order by title; others were simply stored in boxes labeled “American Broadsides” with no further organization. None of the broadsides were represented in Hollis. Now each has a call number and a Hollis record with multiple access points.
Houghton is committed to making all its collections maximally accessible to users, and this successful project marks a significant advance towards that goal. The Ruth Miller Memorial Philanthropic Fund has been an important partner in this effort, funding not only this project but also the cataloging of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Collection (MS Am 1084); the Science Fiction Collection (more than 3,000 books, magazines, and fanzines); and the Lincoln medals collection (MS Lincoln 2).
Thanks to Rare Book Cataloger Elaine Shiner for contributing this post.
Images, from top:
Detail from The Constitution and Guerriere. Boston: J. G. Hunt, [between 1834 and 1836]. A song, in nine stanzas, about the wreck and capture of the British frigate Guerriere by the U.S. frigate Constitution during the War of 1812. American Broadsides 80
Barber’s address to his customers. Boston, 18[?]2. American Broadsides 34
Gay, John,1685-1732. Black ey’d Susan, together with Mary’s Dream [by John Lowe]. Providence: Printed and sold at the Book-Store No. 25, High Street [by Henry Trumbull, between 1826 and 1836]. American Broadsides 21
The Constitution and Guerriere. Boston: J. G. Hunt, [between 1834 and 1836]. A song, in nine stanzas, about the wreck and capture of the British frigate Guerriere by the U.S. frigate Constitution during the War of 1812. American Broadsides 80
The Cumberland’s Crew. New York: H. De Marsan, [between 1860 and 1877]. American Broadsides 716
The dying words of Perry Anthoney, who was executed at Boston, Dec. 21, for the wilful murder of Leonard Stodder, on board the schr. Quincy, of Hingham. [Boston?, 1824?]. American Broadsides 100
Harrison ticket. [Maryland, 1840]. A list of all electors for the state of Maryland supporting William H. Harrison in the presidential election of 1840. American Broadsides 694
The American Broadsides by Modern Books and Manuscripts, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Terms and conditions beyond the scope of this license may be available at blogs.law.harvard.edu.