Plimoth Patuxet Museums and the State Library of Massachusetts are proud to announce their joint publication of a new facsimile of William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation, commonly known as the Bradford Manuscript. For the first time in printed form since 1896, this volume presents the handwritten history of Plymouth Colony from William Bradford, Mayflower passenger and the Colony’s longest serving governor, in a format accessible to the general public. Click here to watch a recording of our virtual launch, featuring remarks from special guests including bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick.
(Above) Tom Begley, Special Project Writer for Plymouth & Patuxet and Albie Johnson, State Librarian for the Massachusetts State Library, introduce the publication.
Beth Carroll-Horrocks, Head of Special Collections at the State Library describes the original manuscript which is kept at the State Library in the State House in Boston.
(Above) The first page of the manuscript (click to enlarge) is shown as Mayflower author Nathaniel Philbrick talks about how he felt when he got to hold the actual document when he was researching his book.
[From the text describing the video] Although it appears Bradford never attempted to publish his chronicle, he made it clear that he wanted it preserved and read by future generations. His careful penmanship at times seems to be written personally for the modern viewer. Plimoth Patuxet and the State Library collaborated to present the work the way Bradford wrote it with very few additions or edits, relying on high-resolution digital images of the original manuscript, which were created as part of an extensive preservation project overseen by the State Library and conducted by experts at the Northeast Document Conservation Center. The complete collection of Bradford’s pages appears with greater clarity than ever before along with illuminating introductory materials and a detailed index to help the reader navigate this one-of-a-kind document. This new edition’s pages are cut to the same size as the original manuscript allowing the reader to imagine themselves holding the original as they examine Bradford’s own words. Bradford Manuscript: One of the Nation’s Greatest Treasures Of Plimoth Plantation is considered by many to be one of Massachusetts’ – and indeed the Nation’s – greatest treasures. The original manuscript has been carefully preserved by the State Library of Massachusetts since its return to Massachusetts at the end of the 19th century. The book details the major events in the lives of a small group of religious Separatists, known as the Pilgrims, who set out from England to seek the religious freedom they felt was not available to them back home. Bradford presents in manuscript format the authoritative account of the Mayflower voyage, relationships with 17th-century Indigenous communities, and the settling of what would become the first permanent European colony in New England, using the Mayflower Compact as its governing document.