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October 1, 2002

Contact: James David Moran
Director of Outreach
Office: (508) 471-2131
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WORCESTER, MA—The award-winning American history web journal Common-place launches a new issue today with essays, reporting, and reviews that cross the continent, covering the PBS reality-TV series "Frontier House" in Montana, George Washington on display at Mount Vernon, the funding controversy at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, and historic ghost tours from San Francisco to New Orleans.

In "Can This Monument Be Saved?" Daniel Penrice surveys the recent troubles at the National Museum of American History; while in "Copernicus at the Newsstand," University of California, Berkeley professor David Henkin contemplates the reappearance of the New York Sun on New York newsstands 169 years after its original founding and a half-century after its much-lamented demise. In "Spooky Streets," SUNY-Buffalo historian Erik Seeman reflects on the growing popularity of heritage tourism ghost tours. Meanwhile, Common-place's archivists' column "Tales from the Vault" features an article on nineteenth-century "mug books"—collections of biographical sketches of those who were willing and able to pay the subscription price to be published in them, and "Object Lessons" zooms in on camera obscuras, magic lanterns, telescopic tubes, magnifiers, zograscopes, and magic mirrors—otherwise known as optical illusions. And in "Talk of the Past," Common-place co-editor Jane Kamensky discusses the "makeover" of George Washington by Mary Higgins Clark in her re-released novel, Mount Vernon Love Story.

The October 2002 issue of Common-place, available free of charge at, 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 "Common-place Coffeehouse" - a message board on the website.

About Common-place

The web journal aims to provide "a common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture," said co-editor Jill Lepore. "A bit friendlier than a scholarly journal, a bit more scholarly than a popular magazine, Common-place speaks—and listens—to scholars, museum curators, teachers, hobbyists, and just about anyone interested in American history before 1900." The first issue of Common-place was published on the Internet in the fall of 2000.

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 Street, Worcester, MA 01609-1634; telephone (508) 755-5221.

About the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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.

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