The Albany Institute of History & Art is home to what is likely the earliest collection of political material specifically assembled as a political collection – the DeWitt Clinton Broadside Collection, which encompasses over one hundred broadsides ranging in date from 1775 to 1813.
A broadside is a single sheet of paper printed with information on one side. Donated to the Albany Institute by Theodoric Romeyn Beck (1791-1855), the broadsides collection would be tucked away and forgotten about, rediscovered and acclaimed, and stored once more, hidden to the world at large, until a local political memorabilia collector learned about the Institute’s collection in 2018, and was thrilled by the discovery. Historically, broadsides were ephemeral sources of information created to serve specific, temporary purposes. After serving their purpose they were either thrown away or repurposed and since paper was a scarce commodity in early America, their survival today is rare.
Fellow Citizens! DeWitt Clinton’s Broadsides of the Early Republic exhibition focuses on five New York State gubernatorial elections, the context of American life at the time the broadsides were written, and the life and legacy of DeWitt Clinton. It will include a selection of nearly twenty political broadsides, along with contemporary paintings, artifacts from the era, and a rare map of New York from 1796.