Isaiah Thomas (1749-1831) was the foremost printer of the generation that came of age during the American Revolution. He was instrumental in starting the Revolution and once the new nation was founded he became its principal and most successful printer, publisher, and bookseller. His success made him one of the wealthiest men in the country. Thomas’s career is made even more remarkable by the fact that he was entirely a self-made man. In 1812, Thomas founded the American Antiquarian Society, designed to be a learned society and national institution dedicated to preserving the written record of the United States. Thomas’s own collection of books, newspapers, and ephemera formed the basis of this collection, and his philosophy of collecting continues to shape the way Americans understand the past today.
The module “Becoming a Printer” is a prototype of one section of a proposed interactive website that explores Thomas’s life and American history and culture through selected documents that Thomas had a personal relationship with. These documents help us to understand Thomas, his times, the American nation, and the concept of history itself.
Please note that since this site is a prototype, it is meant to communicate the structure, content, features, and visual tone of the future, completed site. Therefore only one module, “Becoming a Printer”, has been created, and within that module, some links are not yet working. The site in its current prototype stage is compatible with all modern computer browsers (except Internet Explorer) and on iPads. In its completed form, it will be compatible across the full range of devices. For further information about the project's funding and development, please see our acknowledgments.