Founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas, the American Antiquarian Society is both a learned society and a major independent research library. The AAS library today houses the largest and most accessible collection of books, pamphlets, broadsides, newspapers, periodicals, music, and graphic arts material printed in the United States through 1876, as well as manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, and digital resources and reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the 20th Century.
Established in 2005, The Center for Historic American Visual Culture (CHAViC) at the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) seeks to provide opportunities for educators on all levels to learn about American visual culture and resources, promote the awareness of AAS collections, and stimulate research and intellectual inquiry into American visual materials. CHAViC will accomplish these goals by offering short-term research fellowships, online exhibitions, workshops and seminars, conferences, and improved access to AAS collections. The very rich collections of visual materials include maps, prints, photography, illustrated books and serials, and ephemera. These collections are described in depth on the AAS website under the library collections page.