The American Antiquarian Society collection of ephemera includes several thousand tickets for all sorts of activities including train excursions, dances and lectures. The tickets range in date from the eighteenth century to 1910 and, like those of today, are small, sturdy objects printed on heavy paper or card stock. They were required for admittance to events or as receipt for payment for travel or services purchased. Tickets kept a crowd moving and under control. One promoter noted in his advertisement for a multi-part lecture on electricity, "TICKETS to be had at Mr. Timothy's printing office in Broad-Street, and at the bar of Mr. Backhouse's, at Forty shillings currency for the whole course. No person to be admitted without a ticket, by paying at the door, as the inconveniency is great ... " (South Carolina Gazette, April 20, 1765).

In the early nineteenth-century, tickets were often saved by their owners as souvenirs of an event such as concerts by the famous Swedish singer Jenny Lind or lectures by speakers such as Charles Dickens (tickets for both are found in the collection). Dance and dinner tickets were printed for the organizers of social events and then distributed (for more on dance ephemera, see the Society's online exhibition An Invitation to Dance). Commemorative events such as founding days and Fourth of July celebrations were held by towns around the country, and tickets were required for admittance. Additionally, agricultural and mechanics fairs, art exhibitions, college commencements and Sunday school graduations all required tickets.


The Society's ticket collection is arranged by size and by type, with tickets for transportation separated out from all others. In the transportation sections, tickets are arranged by issuer, with all tickets for one rail or steamer line grouped together alphabetically. Within each non-transportation category, the tickets are housed by date, from the earliest to the latest. Undated tickets are placed at the back of each category. Please use the inventory below to access this collection.


Box 1 - Tickets, small : Transportation

Railroad Tickets and Passes A-Z
Stage and Omnibus Tickets A-Z
Steamboat and Ferry Tickets A-Z
Transportation, general (method unknown)

Box 2 - Tickets, small : Passes and Tickets by subject A-E

Passes, Government –Executive & Judicial
Passes, Government – Military
Passes, Private – Libraries, Halls, Colleges
Passes, Telegraph & Express franks
Bathing, 1834
Concerts, 1800-1900, undated
Dance, 1780-1900, undated
Dance, Worcester, 1813-1900, undated
Events, Anniversaries (institutional)
Events, Anniversaries (July 4th)
Events, Commencements
Events, Dedications
Events, Meetings
Events, Sporting
Events, Visits
Exhibitions, Art and Panoramas
Exhibitions, Boston Athenaeum 1827-1869
Exhibitions, Fairs
Exhibitions, General

Box 3 - Tickets, small : Tickets by subject F-Z

Lectures, 1800-1900, undated
Supper & Meals

Box 4 - Tickets, folio : Transportation, Passes, & Tickets A-D

Railroad A-Z
Steamboat A-Z
Transportation, general (method unknown)
Passes, Government, Executive & Judicial
Passes, Government, Military
Concerts, 1800-1900
Dance, 1780-1900, undated
Dance, Worcester, 1800-1900, undated

Box 5 - Tickets, folio : E-Z

Events, Anniversaries (institutional)
Events, Anniversaries (July 4th)
Events, Commencements
Events, Dedications
Events, Sporting
Exhibitions, Art
Exhibitions, Fairs
Exhibitions, General
Funerals, 1800-1900
Lectures, 1800-1900
Supper & Meals
Theater, 1800-1900

Quick Links

Catalog | Login | Digital A-Z


Monday: 9-5
Tuesday: 10-5
Wednesday: 9-5
Thursday: 9-5
Friday: 9-5

Keep in Touch

Link to AAS Facebook Link to AAS TwitterLink to AAS BlogLink to AAS Instagram   Link to AAS YouTube