As the Portland Press Herald explains:
On Jan. 7, 1765, in the middle of the Stamp Act controversy, Boston shopkeeper Harbottle Dorr bought an issue of the Boston Evening-Post and commented on its contents in the margins.Dorr (1730-1794), was a hardware dealer and active Whig, but at heart he was an archivist. He indexed his collection, and often wrote down who he thought wrote anonymous essays; his identifications seem reliable, matching what we know from other sources. Dorr wrote some articles himself as “A Consistent Whig,” and his name pops up in political groups. In 1777, he became a Boston selectman.
Every week for the next 12 years, he did the exact same thing.
The result is 3,280 pages of newspapers-turned-diaries that give an unprecedented look at the American Revolution as it happened, by someone in the center of it.
Dorr evidently bound his newspaper collection into four volumes. Three of them (now rebound) are owned by the Massachusetts Historical Society. (I don’t know how these related to a gift the society recorded in 1798: “The Boston Gazette, twelve volumes, with MS. notes by the late Harbottle Dorr, Esq.;…From Josiah Quincy, Esq.,” future mayor of Boston.)
This fourth volume has been in the collections of the Bangor Historical Society since 1915, one year after donor Dr. Samuel U. Coe bought it at auction. But that society is “on the verge of shuttering because of lack of money,” so it put its volume up for auction on 26 August. That one item might bring in a quarter of a million dollars.
So it would be a very nice holiday present, indeed. I’m just saying.
There’s a jolly essay about Harbottle Dorr’s newspapers in Bernard Bailyn’s Faces of Revolution. Sam Ryan wrote about Dorr’s link to the Boston Massacre. His entire newspaper collection has already been collected on one set of microfilm for researchers.