From English to Algonquian: Early New England Translations

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Samuel Green

Samuel Green (1614-1702)

Samuel Green and his family had ventured from England to Cambridge, New England, by 1634. During his time in Cambridge, Green acquired several lots of land (likely for speculative purposes), became active in the local militia, and served as the town clerk. A prominent member of the Cambridge community by 1649, Green took on the duty of printer at the Cambridge Press after the death of the colony’s previous printer, Matthew Day.

The first book bearing Green’s name, A Platform of Church Discipline…Printed by S. G. at Cambridge in New England…(1649), is described by Isaiah Thomas in his History of Printing (1810) as appearing “to be printed by one who was but little acquainted with the typographic art; it is proof that Green was not bred to it, and that this was one of the first books from the press after he began printing….”

Though Green was not at first a skilled printer, he remained at the press for more than forty years. Many of his descendants continued in the trade. In a 1675 letter to Massachusetts Governor John Winthrop, Green writes, “…printing was the employment I was called unto when there was none in the country to carry it along…”

Hundreds of imprints bear Green’s name from this period, including five of the Algonquian-language publications featured in this exhibition.