Inside the Collections Care Project: This is what a tablet used to be

Nov 21, 2014

This week, as Historic New England’s Collections Care Project progresses, we continue to share our favorite pieces from the project.

Long before the days of mobile devices, people used notepads or tablets like this one to take notes or aid the memory. Reaching their peak popularity in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, these notepads were used by the likes of Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson.

Usually made of ivory, they consisted of six thin sheets or leaves that unfolded into a fan-like shape. Some of the sheets had the day marked at the top in order to better organize the week’s notes. Typically, the owner wrote with pencil, so as to easily erase the notes after they were transferred to a more permanent medium. 

During phase two of the project, we will add new images to our new and improved Collections Access database daily. Keep checking back to see new images as we make our way through the collection.

Support the ongoing preservation of these treasures with a gift to the Collections and Conservation Fund.