The American Antiquarian Society is one of the oldest learned societies in the United States. The Society is dedicated to preserving the history, literature, and culture of the United States from the colonial period to the end of Reconstruction. The Society's research library is a national treasure, holding four million items related to American history prior to the United States. Visitors will marvel at the classic beauty of the reading room. After a brief orientation, visitors can request materials and one of the librarians will retrieve those items from the Society's 25 miles of shelving. The building also holds the administrative offices of the Society and is a National Historic Landmark.
The Society was formed by printer and Revolutionary patriot Isiah Thomas in 1812. The collection began with Thomas's personal collection and continues to grow through generous donations by members and the general public. Among the Society's treasures are the first book ever printed in North America and 60,000 books and other printed materials created prior to 1821. The Society also sponsors dozens of programs for teachers, public lectures, fellowships for scholars, and digital resources and archives that are accessible by clicking on the links below.