Early Hudson Publishers
Book Printing in Late Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Century Hudson
The City of Hudson boasted several publishing houses in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Their output included almanacs, pamphlets, newspapers, religious tomes, advisories on manners, schoolbooks, biographies, natural history, children’s books, poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. These volumes, like the early ordinances of the City, provide a vivid picture of middle to upper-class Hudson society of the times, from both religious and secular perspectives.
Herewith a list of known publishers (there may have been more) and lists of titles published by each for which photos of original volumes are available to this site, in chronological order per publisher. Selected excerpts from original volumes are also provided (our personal favorite is Letters to A Young Lady, by Rev. John Bennett, published in 1811 by William E. Norman). Click here to go directly to excerpts from, and photos of, this book; as well as a complete copy of the book itself that may be read on this website.
Please bear in mind that the lists provided here are only partial; each of these publishers produced far more titles, which may be searched on the WorldCat website.
I. Ashbel Stoddard (1763-1840). Stoddard is the earliest, best known and documented of these publishers. He printed Stoddard’s Diary of Columbia Almanack from 1785 into the 1830s, as well as hundreds of additional titles (see the online library catalog, WorldCat: https://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=%22Ashbel+Stoddard%22 ). Stoddard sat for a portrait attributed to Ammi Phillips around 1812-1813, in which he is portrayed holding a copy of George Washington’s Farewell Address, which he printed in 1797. Stoddard established his bookstore and printing shop at the southeast corner of Warren and Third Street in 1784 and began publication of Hudson’s first newspaper (The Hudson Weekly Gazette) the following year. Publication information provided on the frontispieces of some of the books he printed give the address of his business premises as “135 Warren Street, corner of Warren and Third-Streets” (see frontispiece for Reflections for Every Day of the Year on the Works of God, 1814, below; this book was published subsequent to a 1793 fire at his original printing premises at 131 Warren, after which he rebuilt at that location, But he may have moved his print shop and/or book store several doors away after the fire, as other books provide his address as 137 Warren Street.)
More on this period in Hudson printing history and the interrelationships among printers in the Hudson Valley may be read in Columbia Rising: Civil Life on the Upper Hudson from the Revolution to the Age of Jackson, by John L. Brooke, pages 77-79.
II. William E. Norman, 2 Warren Street, Hudson, NY: known publications date from 1805 to 1828. Norman’s address on a number of the books he published is shown as 2 Warren Street, Hudson, NY. No biographical information has been located as of this writing. 115 publications by Norman are shown on the WorldCat website: https://www.worldcat.org/search?qt=worldcat_org_all&q=%22William+E.+Norman%22
[Editorial Note: This site’s favorite book among those published in Hudson is Letters to a Young Lady, published by Norman and excerpted at some length below. Also provided is a copy of the entire book, available to read on this website]
III. Balance-Press, address in Hudson unknown; operating in Hudson in 1807; thereafter in Albany. There are no publications listed for this press in the World-Cat catalog; but the proof of its existence in Hudson, if only for one publication, lies in the existence of the book cited herein.