Collecting Daily Life in Early American Manuscripts – NEH-SHARP Living American History in Primary Documents Lecture

Date: 31 July 2024
Time: 5:30 p.m.
Location: UVA Special Collections
Lecturer: Ashley Cataldo - Curator of Manuscripts, American Antiquarian Society

There is no doubt the early American manuscript is collectible. From autographs of the Founders to writings by major literary figures, American manuscripts fetch high prices and high spots on collectors’ shelves. But the majority of manuscript production in early America was not of the traditionally collectible sort. Many early manuscripts were written into blank books that were filled with records, accounts, and personal reflections by those whose names we would never know otherwise. Cataldo’s talk will situate the collecting of early American manuscripts of daily life in the longer tradition of collecting manuscript Americana. By looking closely at several account books and other documents, this talk will help us to understand that collecting need not be about any one prized item and showcase the potential of manuscripts for helping us understand lives that appear nowhere else in the written record.