In 2018, the Library Company of Philadelphia launched our seminar series to offer community members an opportunity to explore the rich historical records of our collections. More than an exhibition of treasures, each seminar provides participants with access to carefully-curated materials such as historical documents, books, and prints, together with conversation guided by experts in a learning experience that promotes discovery, discussion, and reinterpretation.

In Fall 2019, we will offer our seminars in two formats.

All seminars will unfold over three sessions with interactive presentations and curated access to collection items in the Library Company reading room.

Traditional seminars include one reception in the Logan room. Tuition is $250 for the general public and $200 for shareholders.

Premium seminars include dinner after each session (three total) in the Logan Room. Tuition is $500 for the general public and $350 for shareholders.

To promote accessibility, need-based scholarships will be made available. Students, artists, and first-time participants, in particular, are encouraged to inquire with the program director, Will Fenton.

To register for the seminar, please contact Clarissa Lowry, Events & Programs Coordinator, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 130. For more information about the seminar series, contact Will Fenton, Director of Scholarly Innovation, at or 215-546-3181, ext. 119.

From the LCP Blog…

About the Director of Scholarly Innovation

Mirror of a City: Images of Philadelphia, 1780-1950

Erika Piola, Director of the Visual Culture Program and Sarah Weatherwax, Curator of Print and Photographs, Library Company of Philadelphia

Convenes 5:30-8:00 p.m. on September 26, October 10, and October 24, 2019

The Print and Photograph Department at the Library Company of Philadelphia holds one of the few public historical, American popular graphic arts collections in the country. With a focus on the visual history of Philadelphia from the era of the early nation through post-World War II, the graphic materials chronicle the evolution of the city and the story of their creators, collectors, and distributors like few others.  In this seminar Library Company curators Sarah Weatherwax and Erika Piola will provide a sensory journey of the Library’s premiere collection  of prints, photographs, drawings, watercolors, maps, and ephemera depicting the city as it developed over three centuries from port city to urban  metropolis.

“Mirror of a City” will examine the pivotal role of Philadelphia in creating the visual culture of the nation as a center for printmaking, photography, and collecting. Sessions will explore the social, cultural, and technological influences affecting Philadelphia image making; the known, hidden, and forgotten image makers; and the changing aesthetics of the physical city, as well as tastes of those who notably collected all manner of Philadelphia imagery. Seminar attendees will also gain knowledge about the evolution of the Library’s graphic collections, as well as have hands-on experiences with specimens of early photography, including daguerreotypes and stereographs.

Past Seminars

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

Dr. Walter Greason, Monmouth University

Convened January 24, January 31, February 28, and March 21, 2019

“Designing Afrofuturism” examined 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, explored how historical African American leaders envisioned the future. “Designing Afrofuturism” drew upon the Library Company’s prodigious African American History collections, including rare Afrofuturist literature and drawings, poems and songs, and speeches and protests.

Benjamin Franklin & Immigration

Dr. Carla J. Mulford, Pennsylvania State University

Convened 6:00 – 9:00 p.m., March 6, 2019

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. Dr. Carla Mulford, a leading scholar on Franklin, curated records that reveal Franklin’s shifting views on immigration, demographics, economics, and the environment. Drawing upon documents from Franklin’s time in Philadelphia, London, and Passy, participants in traced 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.

Graphic Materials: Early American Political Cartoons and Propaganda

Dr. William D. Fenton, Library Company of Philadelphia

Convened October 23, November 8, November 20, December 4, 2018

Led by Dr. Will Fenton, “Graphic Material” excavated the broadsides, engravings, political cartoons, caricatures, and ephemera that transformed early American politics. Canvasing the African Americana, John A. McAllister, and Political Cartoon collections, Fenton offered participants hands-on access to the Library Company’s vaunted visual culture materials. In addition to an eye-opening companion to election-year politicking, “Graphic Material” connected participants with leading practitioners, including award-winning editorial cartoonists Signe Wilkinson, Dwayne Booth, Ben Passmore, and John Cole.