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Belles Lettres at the Library Company

In the early years, the Library Company acquired works of literature through purchases from London booksellers made by agents on our behalf or through gifts. The 1741 catalog, published on our tenth anniversary, listed a set of Montaigne’s Essays (London 1685), which came into the collection as a gift from Benjamin Franklin; James Thomson’s The […]

Treasures from the Library Company of Philadelphia

During the years of the Civil War–with money scarce, prices high, and many of the Library Company’s members in the army–it took all of Librarian Lloyd Pearsall Smith’s ingenuity to maintain the currency of book purchases. Dictated by the reading habits of members, these were increasingly dominated by novels from such once-popular, but now almost […]

Treasures from the Library Company of Philadelphia

In 1774, Thomas Jefferson drafted a set of instructions for a Virginia delegation to an extralegal congress of the representatives of other colonies.  Taken ill, Jefferson did not accompany the delegation to Williamsburg.  His document had not been intended for publication, but in his absence, and without his knowledge, his friends took the manuscript to […]

Treasures from the Library Company of Philadelphia

One of the most popular poets in colonial America, Phillis Wheatley became the first person of African descent to publish in America. The enslaved Wheatley earned international fame for an elegy for George Whitefield, the renowned Methodist minister of the Great Awakening, whom she had seen preach in Boston shortly before his death in 1770. […]

Treasures from the Library Company of Philadelphia

Women, want to know if you are fertile?  Here’s what Aristotle prescribes.  “Make a fumigation of red storax, myrhh, cassiawood, nutmeg, cinnamon, and letting her receive the fume into her womb, covering her very close. If the odor passeth through the body up into the mouth and nostrils, she is fruitful.” Aristotle’s Masterpiece was the […]