A Safe Haven For The Printed Word Turns 200 | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

A Safe Haven For The Printed Word Turns 200

Back in the 1700s, there was a young printer's apprentice who lived in Boston. His name was Isaiah Thomas and he became one of the first newspaper publishers in the country. He also founded the American Antiquarian Society, which celebrates its 200th birthday this week.

Located in Worcester, Mass., the American Antiquarian Society houses the largest collection of materials printed in the United States. Its library has books, newspapers, letters, even board games dating from 1640 to 1876. Its members include some notable characters, including 14 presidents.

Ellen Dunlap is president of the American Antiquarian Society. She says that the society elects its members and they come from all sorts of fields. Politicians, historians, book collectors and regular people interested in the society are all among its members.

Historian Jill Lapore is one of those members. Her latest book, The Mansion of Happiness, was inspired by a board game she found at the American Antiquarian Society. To her, the Society is a citadel of sorts.

"Maybe even, I love it more with each passing year," she says. "The more digital we get, the more I love paper. I mean, the more precious it is that there are these places — like the Library of Congress and the National Archives, the American Antiquarian Society — that save paper for us.

These days, Lapore reads a lot of her research online — even old books. But nothing compares to her experience of going to Antiquarian Hall in Worcester and calling up actual books, some from as far back as 1730. Books so old they might fall open to a particular page all on their own.

"Because that's where someone had left it open on their desk for a long time once, centuries ago," Lapore says. "And it's a meaningful page. That doesn't happen in Google books; that's a really precious gift that the archive has for readers."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

'Ashley's War' Details Vital Work Of Female Soldiers In Afghanistan

A new book looks at the female soldiers who served alongside elite special operations units in Afghanistan in order to connect with a population that was off-limits to male soldiers: Afghan women.
NPR

Tyson Foods To Stop Giving Chickens Human-Used Antibiotics

Tyson, the country's biggest producer of chicken meat, says within 2 years, it expects to stop giving chickens antibiotics that humans also use. The decision echoes one by McDonald's last month.
NPR

Record Number Of Amicus Briefs Filed In Same-Sex-Marriage Cases

This week's same-sex-marriage cases at the Supreme Court brought in a record number of friend-of-the–court briefs. But truth be told, the justices do not read all of these briefs.
NPR

Report: To Aid Combat, Russia Wages Cyberwar Against Ukraine

Cyberwarfare is a hidden world with few documented examples. In a new report, security researchers detail digital attacks against Ukraine's military, and charge the Russian military as the hacker.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.