The Library will closed on President’s Day, Monday, February 18, 2019.

Normal hours will resume on Tuesday, February 19, 2019

The Library Company follows the policy of the School District of Philadelphia for all weather related closings and delayed openings.
Please continue to check our website for current information.

Beginning January 2, 2019 the Print Department Reading Room hours will be 9:00am-4:45 pm, Monday-Thursday/Appointments preferred.


The front facade of The Library Company of Philadelphia at 1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA.


A photo of the Library Company of Philadelphia first floor Reading Room filled with researchers.


Group of well-dressed women posed before a large gate.

For Scholars

A researcher using the Library Company of Philadelphia collections in the first floor Reading Room.

For Educators

The 2013 Summer Seminar for School Teachers participants with Richard S. Newman.

Upcoming Exhibition

Stylish Books: Designing Philadelphia Furniture

Upcoming Events

Library Company Seminar: Designing Afrofuturism
Jan 24 @ 6:00 pm – Mar 21 @ 9:00 pm
Library Company Seminar: Designing Afrofuturism @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

Designing Afrofuturism: Imagining Black Futures through Art, History, and Literature

January 24 / January 31 / February 28 / March 21

6:00pm – 8:00pm

“Designing Afrofuturism” will examine the surviving art, architecture, and technology from indigenous civilizations across the African diaspora. Complemented by the upcoming Library Company exhibition “From Negro Pasts to Afro-Futures: Black Creative Re-Imaginings,” this seminar, led by Dr. Walter Greason (Associate Professor at Monmouth University), will explore how historical African American leaders envisioned the future. “Designing Afrofuturism” will draw upon the Library Company’s prodigious African American History collections, including rare Afrofuturist literature and drawings, poems and songs, and speeches and protests. Participants will learn how to reinterpret these historical records as the foundation of a twenty-first-century global society and to pursue that vision through recent public exhibitions, public art campaigns, and community literacy programs.

Seminars unfold over four two-hour sessions. Each session features an intimate and interactive presentation of historical materials in our reading room, followed by dinner in the historic Logan Room. Space is limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first, serve basis.

About the Seminar Leader:
Dr. Greason’s research focuses on the comparative, economic analysis of slavery, industrialization, and suburbanization. With a variety of co-editors, Dr. Greason has published Planning Future Cities(2017) – an innovative look at architecture, urbanism, and municipal design; The American Economy (2016) – a provocative examination of race, property, and wealth in the United States since 1750; and the Afrofuturist design textbook, Cities Imagined. His scholarly monograph, Suburban Erasure, won the Best Work of Non-Fiction award from the New Jersey Studies Academic Alliance in 2014. He also won grants from the Mellon Foundation (2011) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (2016). He is also the creator of the #WakandaSyllabus. The subsequent series of essays can be found on the award-winning website, Black Perspectives.


To pay by check contact Colleen Gill, Development and Membership Coordinator, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 136. For more information about the seminar series, contact Will Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 119.

Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America
Feb 19 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US


Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America

Tuesday, February 19

5:30pm -7:00pm

This lecture is free and open to the public

Hosted by the Program in African American History

Lecture with Professor Martha S. Jones, Society of Black Alumni Presidential Professor and Professor of History at The Johns Hopkins University.

About the Lecture

Birthright Citizens tells how African American activists radically transformed the terms of citizenship for all Americans. Before the Civil War, colonization schemes and black laws threatened to deport former slaves born in the United States. Birthright Citizens recovers the story of how African American activists remade national belonging through battles in legislatures, conventions, and courthouses. They faced formidable opposition, most notoriously from the US Supreme Court decision in Dred Scott. Still, Martha S. Jones explains, no single case defined their status. Former slaves studied law, secured allies, and conducted themselves like citizens, establishing their status through local, everyday claims. All along they argued that birth guaranteed their rights. With fresh archival sources and an ambitious reframing of constitutional law-making before the Civil War, Jones shows how when the Fourteenth Amendment constitutionalized the birthright principle, the aspirations of black Americans’ aspirations were realized.

About the Speaker

Professor Jones is a legal and cultural historian whose work examines how black Americans have shaped the story of American democracy. She is the author of All Bound Up Together: The Woman Question in African American Public Culture 1830-1900 (University of North Carolina Press, 2007) and Birthright Citizens: A History of Race and Rights in Antebellum America (Cambridge University Press in 2018) and a coeditor of Toward an Intellectual History of Black Women (University of North Carolina Press, 2015).

The Program in African American History brings together scholars and interested members of the public to explore and discuss every aspect of the experience of people of African descent in the Americas from the beginnings of European colonization through 1900.  For more than forty years, the African Americana collections of the Library Company have helped nurture and sustain rich scholarship that has added dramatically to our knowledge and understanding of that experience—and public exhibitions, lectures, and programs have sought to involve the broadest possible audience.

Collection Review: Reconstructing America
Feb 20 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Collection Review: Reconstructing America @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

 Reconstructing America: Race, Equality, and Citizenship

Collection Review

Wednesday, February 20


This collection review will focus on the struggle African Americans endured on their journey to citizenship in the United States. Join us as we explore broadsides, political cartoons, convention records and other materials from our African Americana collection that speaks to black citizenship and the 14th Amendment during the reconstruction era. 

Saving Time: Restoration of a Rare Christopher Souers Clock
Feb 27 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Saving Time: Restoration of a Rare Christopher Souers Clock @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US


Wednesday, February 27


Co-Sponsored by Philadelphia Area Conservation Association

Christopher Souers (1695-1758) was an early 18th-century clock-maker from Germantown. A rare example of his work is on display at the Library Company of Philadelphia. The horologist tasked with bringing this clock back to life, was confronted with many difficult choices as well as an experience to learn deeper and more nuanced horological methods. The process of preserving the integrity of the clock’s past, as well as the integrity of its future, sometimes felt at odds with one another. This lecture will discuss the delicate balance between honoring the two intentions.

Our speaker, Lili von Baeyer, the clock contractor for the Pennsylvania State Capitol Complex, oversees the maintenance of 280 historic government clocks, as well as for the United States Senate clocks on Capitol Hill. Lili has carried out work for many companies and institutions including: Chelsea Clock Co., Detroit Historical Museum, M.S. Hershey Foundation, The Franklin Institute, The National Association of Watch and Clock Collectors, and various private conservation companies. She is currently teamed with Johnson & Griffiths Studio, who together won a 2014 Preservation Achievement Award from the Preservation Alliance of Philadelphia.

Tickets are non-transferrable 

Library Company Seminar: Benjamin Franklin & Immigration
Mar 6 @ 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Library Company Seminar: Benjamin Franklin & Immigration @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

Benjamin Franklin & Immigration

March 6, 2019

6:00pm – 9:00pm

Few people of Benjamin Franklin’s generation understood better the importance of immigration to the British colonies of North America. Franklin’s ideas about immigrants and immigration evolved as his career moved from being a colonial leader in Philadelphia to a citizen of the world. His thinking about populations and about ethnic differences derive from his mutual concerns about laboring peoples and the environmental and economic circumstances of the North American colonies. By examining the Library Company’s historical records from Franklin’s time in Philadelphia, London, and Passy, we can trace how local circumstances shaped Franklin’s early thinking and how later experiences encouraged him to fashion a more global vision about immigration problems, goals, and strategies. Readings complementary to the Library Company’s holdings will enable participants to contextualize Franklin’s writings about peoples in North America and elsewhere, including indigenous peoples of North America, Ireland, and India; Scottish, Scots-Irish, and Irish peoples; Germans; Africans; French, and others.

Join Dr. Carla Mulford, a leading scholar on Franklin, as she curates original records that reveal Franklin’s shifting views on immigration, demographics, economics, and the environment. This seminar will feature an intimate and interactive presentation of historical materials in our reading room, followed by a casual dinner in the historic Logan Room. Space is limited to 20 participants on a first-come, first, serve basis.

About the Seminar Leader:

Carla J. Mulford has published widely in the field of early American studies, but Benjamin Franklin has been her preoccupation over the last twenty years. She has published twenty articles and book chapters on Franklin, in addition to The Cambridge Companion to Benjamin  Franklin (Cambridge UP, 2009) and Benjamin Franklin and the Ends of Empire (Oxford UP, 2015). She is currently working on a new book, tentatively titled Benjamin Franklin’s Electrical Diplomacy. Professor of English at Penn State University, she is the Founding President of the Society of Early Americanists.


To pay by check contact Colleen Gill, Development and Membership Coordinator, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 136. For more information about the seminar series, contact Will Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 119.

Collection Review: The Beautiful Cigar Girl
Mar 7 @ 2:30 pm – 3:30 pm
Collection Review: The Beautiful Cigar Girl @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

The Beautiful Cigar Girl: An Episode in 19th-Century Crime 

Collection Review

Thursday, March 7


In the 1840s, writers (and illustrators) presented many accounts of crimes against women. These lurid tales have a lot in common with today’s television shows that feature stories “ripped from the headlines.” One of the earliest in the genre is Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Mystery of Marie Rogêt.” In it, Poe presents the forensic evidence surrounding the murder of Mary Rogers, whose body was discovered floating in the Hudson River on July 28, 1841. When the first installment appeared in late 1842, Poe caught the public’s imagination by promising to solve the Mary Rogers case with the evidence that had been made public—at a time when the infamous crime had not been solved. Curator of The Davida T. Deutsch Program in Women’s History Cornelia King will show a range of material related to the case and other similar cases as they appeared as stories in 19th-century sensational fiction.

Profiles of 19th-Century Women in Science
Mar 14 @ 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm
Profiles of 19th-Century Women in Science @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

Profiles of 19th-Century Women in Science

Thursday, March 14

5:30pm -7:00pm

This lecture is free and open to the public

Hosted by The Davida T. Deutsch Program in Women’s History

Dr. Jessica C. Linker will speak on women’s scientific practice in the nineteenth century, which benefited from the proliferation of female academies, as well as the popular sentiment that women should use science in their everyday lives. This talk draws from the careers of Almira Hart Lincoln Phelps, one of the most prolific scientific authors of the century, Lucy Way Sistare Say, the first woman to become a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences, and Sarah Mapps Douglass, who taught geology to African American students in Philadelphia with the aim of bolstering abolitionist narratives.   

Tickets are non-transferrable 

Making a Republic Imperial
Mar 28 @ 9:00 am – Mar 29 @ 8:00 pm

Making a Republic Imperial 

Thursday, March 28, 2019

The Library Company of Philadelphia

1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA

Friday, March 29, 2019

McNeil Center for Early American Studies

3355 Woodland Walk, Philadelphia, PA

How and why did the newly independent United States become an empire?  The answer to this question is not obvious. Before the American Revolution, the colonies and the continent beyond them were spaces of contest, collaboration, and competition among European empires, Native American powers, and enslaved and free African Americans. The founding generation of the early republic added its own imperial ambitions to this mix, revealing competing visions for the new nation, intense debate in the new citizenry about whether and how quickly the republic should expand, what role it should play among international states, and what its character and purpose should be. Some began calling their nation an “empire” almost as soon as they started calling it a republic, while others wondered if the idea of an expansive republic was a contradiction in terms. Yet in just seven decades, the fledgling republic had become an imperial juggernaut with ambitions to rule a continent and beyond. By the 1840s, the United States had refined its tools for dispossessing Native peoples and asserted a political economy grounded in black enslavement. It had conquered an immense amount of territory and claimed the Pacific Ocean as its western boundary, while setting its imperial sights upon regions, peoples, and resources much further afield.

At this conference, six panels of scholars will use empire as an analytical framework for thinking and writing about the early republic. They will employ a wide variety of methods and approaches to investigate how and why the new nation became an empire, and to explore the meaning and utility of empire as a category of analysis for understanding the history of the early republic.

Conference Program

Additional Conference Details 


All sessions at the Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia

9:00–9:45AM             Registration & Coffee

9:45–10:00AM           Welcome

Cathy Matson, PEAES and University of Delaware

Daniel K. Richter, McNeil Center and University of Pennsylvania

10:00–11:30AM         Indigenous Sovereignty and the Ambitions of U.S. Empire

Chair: Michael Blaakman, Princeton University

Emilie Connolly, New York University
“Strategies of Succession and the 1797 Treaty of Big Tree”

Lauren Brand, Southern Nazarene University
“Facing West in Indian Country”

Garrett Wright, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“Ambassadors to the Federal City: Central Plains Indians Discover the American Empire”

Comment: Elizabeth Ellis, New York University

11:30AM–12:00PM   Break

12:00–1:30PM            Industry, Trade, and the Imperial State

Chair: Cathy Matson

Susan Gaunt Stearns, University of Mississippi
“Selling the West: Frontier Merchants and Imperial Authority, 1780-1811”

Lindsay Schakenbach Regele, Miami University of Ohio
“How the National Firearms Industry Helped Make an Early Republic Empire”

Alicia Maggard, Williams College
“Pacific Mail, Industrial Empire: Building U.S. Power in the Pacific”

Comment: Honor Sachs, University of Colorado, Boulder

1:30–3:00PM              Lunch on your own

3:00–4:45PM              Knowledge Production and the Tools of U.S. Empire

Chair: Alexandra Montgomery, University of Pennsylvania

Tisa Wenger, Yale University
“Making Settler Secularism: Morse’s Geographies and American Religion”

Sveinn Jóhannesson, University of Cambridge
“Scientific Knowledge and Empire in Jacksonian America”

Michael Verney, University of New Hampshire
“Selling Empire: Publishing and Presenting Naval Imperialism in the Early American Republic, 1842-1860”

Comment: Ned Blackhawk, Yale University

4:45–5:00PM              Keynote Introduction

Emily Conroy–Krutz, Michigan State University

Michael Blaakman, Princeton University

5:00–6:00PM              Keynote Speaker

Kathleen DuVal, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“Debating Empire, Race, and Nation in the Early Nineteenth Century”

6:00–7:00PM              Reception



All sessions at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, 34th and Sansom Streets, Philadelphia

9:00–9:45AM             Registration & Coffee

9:45–11:30AM           Race, Slavery, and Geographies of Empire

Chair: Emily Conroy–Krutz, Michigan State University

Nancy Gallman, McNeil Center and Lewis & Clark College
“Unmaking an American Republic: Settlers, African Americans, and Constitutional Law in the Spanish Florida Borderlands”

Brandon Mills, University of Colorado, Denver
“From a Settler Empire to a Global Empire: Reconsidering the African Colonization Movement”

Scott Heerman, University of Miami
“Freedom in Chains: U.S. Empire, the Illegal Slave Trade, and the Case of East Texas, 1836-1845”

Comment: Rashauna Johnson, Dartmouth College

11:30–11:45AM          Break

11:45AM–1:30PM     Law and the Politics of Imperial Expansion

Chair: Bethel Saler, Haverford College

Jessica Choppin Roney, Temple University
“Inalienable: The Limits of an Empire Based Upon Natural Rights”

Julia Lewandoski, University of California, Berkeley
“An Empire of Indian Titles: Private Land Claims in Early American Louisiana, 1803-1840”

Camille Suarez, University of Pennsylvania
“This Land is Not Your Land: The Land Claims Act of 1851, Unratified Treaties, and the Dispossession of Californios and Native Americans”

Comment: Sarah Rodriguez, University of Arkansas

1:30–2:30PM              Lunch on your own

2:30–4:00PM              Imperialism and Its Discontents

Chair: Andy Shankman, Rutgers University-Camden

Margot Minardi, Reed College
“Pax Americana? The Imperial Ambivalence of American Peace Reformers”

Nick Guyatt, University of Cambridge
“Imperialism and the American Imagination”

Amy Greenberg, Pennsylvania State University
“When No Means No: The Question of Consent in the Ideology of Manifest Destiny”         

Comment: Rosemarie Zagarri, George Mason University

4:15–5:00PM              Closing Remarks                  

Michael Blaakman, Princeton University

Emily Conroy-Krutz, Michigan State University

5:00–6:00PM             Reception

The Program in Early American Economy and Society at the Library Company of Philadelphia, the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, the Department of History at Princeton University, and Iona College’s Institute of Thomas Paine Studies are pleased to co-sponsor this two-day conference bringing together scholars of imperialism in its multiple early North American forms and spaces.

Stylish Books Symposium
Apr 3 @ 8:15 am – 12:45 pm
Stylish Books Symposium @ The Library Company of Philadelphia | Philadelphia | PA | US

Stylish Books Symposium

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

The Stylish Books: Designing Philadelphia Furniture exhibition examines the Library Company’s collection related to furniture making in Philadelphia, illustrating the influence of books and showing style changes over time. Printed designs spread new ideas. Artisans, as well as their patrons, relied on books as a way to learn about the latest fashions in interior decoration. Books, periodicals, and advertisements generated consumer desire for these goods.  The symposium will further explore and expand on how printed books impacted and inspired furniture design and style. Participants will enjoy talks from expert scholars and have an opportunity to view the exhibition. We hope to encourage and stimulate thought and conversation on this topic. Join us for an exciting day of research and discovery.

More about the Symposium 



Registration and light breakfast



Dr. Michael Barsanti, Edwin Wolf 2nd Director, Library Company of Philadelphia

Linda August, Curator of Art & Artifacts, Library Company of Philadelphia


Keynote address

The Divergent Paths of Two Masters of British 18th-Century Design, Thomas Johnson and Thomas Sheraton

Brock Jobe, Professor Emeritus of American Decorative Arts, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library




Chippendale’s Director. The Rise of Print and Promotion in 18th-Century England

Femke Speelberg, Associate Curator of Historic Ornament, Design and Architecture in the Department of Drawings & Prints, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Thomas Chippendale’s Director in America: Popularity, Parody, and Perseverance

Alyce Englund, Assistant Curator of American Decorative Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art


From Design Book to Design–The Philadelphia Cabinetmakers’ Companions and Guides, 1750-1800

Alexandra Kirtley, Montgomery-Garvan Curator of American Decorative Arts, Philadelphia Museum of Art

Final Remarks

Lunch on your own

More about the Speakers.

This exhibition and programming is supported in part by the Center for American Art, Philadelphia Museum of Art; Freeman’s; and Jay Robert Stiefel.

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