Excerpts from Isaiah Thomas's Journals

Journal Entry

Background Notes

Thomas continued running his printing business until 1802, when he passed it on to his son, Isaiah Thomas, Jr. In his retirement, Isaiah Sr. devoted his energies to writing A History of Printing in America, first published in?, and founding the American Antiquarian Society, established in 1812.1

His journals were kept in almanacs, and they now reside in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society. They cover the period from January 1805 to December 1828, with the exception of year 1808. Thomas describes local, regional, and national events, his involvement in the founding of institutions such as the Worcester Bank and the Second Parish, activities of the Masons of which he was the Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, and his own social and domestic life.2

Of particular interest here are his descriptions of travel and his involvement in the development of Massachusetts's infrastructure. This included an active part in the Boston and Worcester Turnpike, of which he was one of the first directors. Thomas's viewpoint provides a vivid depiction of what it was like to travel in the early nineteenth century, as well as the business that underlaid such developments. 

1. "The Diary of Isaiah Thomas 1805-1828," Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society, Benjamin Thomas Hill, Ed., Vol. IX (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1909), x.

2. "The Diary of Isaiah Thomas 1805-1828," Transactions and Collections of the American Antiquarian Society, Benjamin Thomas Hill, Ed., Vol. IX (Worcester, MA: American Antiquarian Society, 1909), xiii-xiv.

Transcription of Primary Source

To see a transcription of excerpts from Thomas's journal referencing transportation, see here.