The American Antiquarian Society, in Worcester, Mass., was founded in 1812 by patriot printer Isaiah Thomas. The AAS is a learned society and a major independent research library, which houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, newspapers, periodicals, sheet music and graphic arts material printed from the colonial period through 1876 in what is now the United States, Canada and the West Indies.
RIT annually gives out the Isaiah Thomas Award in Publishing to honor an individual or organization’s outstanding contributions to the industry. The American Antiquarian Society is this year’s award recipient. RIT will honor the American Antiquarian Society during a ceremony in Worcester on Sept. 20.
To coincide with the awards ceremony, RIT’s Cary Graphic Arts Collection will host an exhibit about Isaiah Thomas and showcase some of his publications. The exhibit, “Isaiah Thomas, American Printer: Highlights from the Cary Graphic Arts Collection” runs from Sept. 17 through Sept. 30 inside the Cary Collection, second floor of The Wallace Center. A corresponding video exhibition about RIT’s Isaiah Thomas holdings will also be on view at the American Antiquarian Society and the Cary Collection.
In 1770, Thomas established The Massachusetts Spy at a print shop known as “the sedition factory” by the British colonial government. A copy of The Massachusetts Spy will be part of the exhibit. In 1810, Thomas wrote The History of Printing in America, regarded as the basic source of information on early American printing and publishing. RIT has two copies of this book and one will be part of the exhibit.
To see the exhibit, visit the Cary Collection during normal business hours, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.