Man at computer

October 1, 2001

WORCESTER, MASS. --The on-line history journal Common-place begins its second year of publication with the October 2001 issue in which readers are invited to pull back the covers of ancient bed sheets, the pages of a Harry Potter novel, and rotting floor boards to find the past in the present. This issue, which is available, free of charge, at , features the work of Pulitzer Prize winning historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich and historical novelist, Paul Lussier among others.

Common-place is designed to be a cross between a scholarly journal and popular magazine, where scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in American history before 1900 can explore and exchange ideas about early American history and culture. The web magazine has been named Yahoo! "pick of the week," a USA Today "hot site," and won a People's Choice Web site 500 award. Common-place was founded and is edited by two scholars, Jane Kamensky, associate professor of history at Brandeis University, and author of Governing the Tongue: The Politics of Speech in Early New England, and Jill Lepore, associate professor of history at Boston University and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning The Name of War: King Philip's War and American Identity.

Two distinguished historical organizations--the American Antiquarian Society (AAS) of Worcester, Massachusetts, and the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History (GLI), based in New York City--have formed a partnership to sponsor and support the publication of Common-place. The editorial board of this Internet magazine of pre-twentieth century American history includes such notable historians and historical administrators as Gordon Wood, Gary Nash, John Demos, and Cary Carson.

Highlights of the October Issue

In "A Bedsheet in Beinecke," historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich takes a look at history's laundry. Using the Harry Potter series as a jumping-off point, literary scholar Bryan Waterman offers a poignant meditation on what it means to enter another person's life through his diary. In this issue's "Tales from the Vault," Lloyd Pratt investigates the mystery of why 19th-century pamphlets were used as insulation beneath the flooring of the Nantucket Athenaeum. And in the "Common School," middle school teacher Tracy Melandro shows us how excited 21st-century children can get about the American Revolution -- when they draw it themselves. Finally, in "Publick Occurrences," Common-place's historical pundit Jeff Pasley argues that the nation's response to the horror of September 11th is not as unprecedented as some commentators would have us believe.

The October 2001 issue of Common-place will be on-line through December and then available among the journal's archived issues on the website. Individuals may "subscribe" to the journal in order to be notified of the publication of each issue and occasional between-issue "extras." Common-place readers can join in the discussion of any of the journal's features by visiting the "Republic of Letters," a message board on the website.

About the American Antiquarian Society

AAS is a learned society and independent research library, specializing in all aspects of American history and culture through 1876. Founded in 1812 by the patriot printer and publisher Isaiah Thomas, AAS is the third oldest historical organization in the United States and the first to take the whole nation as its scope. The AAS library is the preeminent repository of pre-twentieth-century American printed materials and related manuscript and graphic arts materials in the world. The Society also sponsors an array of programs to encourage the use of its collections and to foster a greater understanding of American history. The main office for Common-place is at AAS, 185 Salisbury St., Worcester, MA 01609-1634. For further information on AAS, telephone (508) 755-5221 or visit

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

The GLI promotes the study of the American past by organizing seminars and enrichment programs for teachers; supporting and producing publications and national traveling exhibitions; creating innovative history high schools, history programs, and Saturday academies; establishing research centers at universities and cultural institutions; granting and administering a major fellowship program for work in leading archives; and seeking to build national and international networks of people and institutions involved in American history. These programs draw extensively on the Gilder Lehrman Collection, on deposit in the Pierpont Morgan Library. Numbering more than 40,000 items from Columbus to recent times, but concentrated in the period 1760-1876, it is one of the largest collections of American historical documents in private hands. For further information, call (646) 366-9666 or visit

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