Library Company Finding Aids

A growing number of the Library Company manuscript collections finding aids have been prepared through the Mellon-funded, Council for Library and Information Resources (CLIR), “Cataloging Hidden Special Collections and Archives Program” done by PACSCL.

You may browse them below or visit the project site.

Anne Hampton Brewster Papers

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Anne Hampton Brewster (1818-1892) was an American novelist, journalist and foreign correspondent who defied contemporary conceptions of womanhood and society during the nineteenth century. The papers date from 1777 to 1892, with the majority of the materials dating from 1845 to 1892. The materials primarily consist of diaries, journals, commonplace books, correspondence, newspaper clippings, notes about her writings and drafts of her writings. The materials document Anne Hampton Brewster’s personal life with friends and family, and they document her professional life as a journalist and writer. (PDF)

Committee to Attend to and Alleviate the Sufferings of the Afflicted with the Malignant Fever minutes

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On September 14, 1793, Matthew Clarkson, the mayor of Philadelphia called a meeting that created the Committee to Attend to and Alleviate the Suffering of the Afflicted with the Malignant Fever Prevalent in the City and Its Vicinity. This committee of volunteer citizens took responsibility for the city during the crisis and guided its recovery following the epidemic’s end. The collection consists of a volume containing the minutes of this organization and dates from 1793 to 1794. (PDF)

John Dickinson papers

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John Dickinson (1732-1808), a Philadelphia lawyer and politician, was a major figure in colonial Delaware and Pennsylvania governments and during the early national period. He was an active presence and prolific writer during the American Revolution and early Republic from the passage of the Sugar Act (1764) until the Jefferson presidency (1801 to 1809). He also served in the military as colonel, private, and brigadier general. He married Mary Norris in 1770. John Dickinson died in Delaware in 1808. The John Dickinson papers contains incoming and outgoing correspondence; drafts and original manuscript documents from the revolutionary and early national government, Revolutionary War, Delaware and Pennsylvania government; land papers; legal papers; bills and receipts; collected essays, notes and commonplace books; and estate material. The papers provide a clear picture of the way in which colonists envisioned their new country and how these new Americans worked, compromised and adapted in order to achieve their visions. Mary Norris Dickinson is documented in two volumes: one of letters and one of poems. (PDF)

Dillwyn and Emlen family correspondence

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The Dillwyn and Emlen family was joined in 1795 when Susanna Dillwyn married Samuel Emlen, Jr. Both the Dillwyn and Emlen families were prominent in early America as Quakers and advocates for abolition. This collection consists of five disbound volumes of letters written to and from William Dillwyn of London and his daughter Susanna Dillwyn in America from 1770 to 1795; and thereafter until 1818, to and from Susanna and her husband Samuel Emlen, Jr. of Burlington County, New Jersey. Although Susanna lived almost her entire life apart from her father, their letters are frequent and deal primarily with family matters and kin. However, there is frequent comment concerning such topics as yellow fever; abolitionism and slavery; Native Americans; breast cancer; and American and European politics, including the Napoleonic wars and the embargo, as well as their effects upon trade and merchants in Philadelphia and London. (PDF)

Pierre Eugène du Simitière collection

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Pierre Eugène Du Simitière (1737-1784) was a collector, artist, and historian, who opened the first public museum, the American Museum, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the American Musuem, Du Simitière presented his many materials collected during his travels and from his collections. The Library Company of Philadelphia purchased many of the manuscript materials at an auction in 1785 following Du Simitière’s death and the closing of the American Museum. The following collection is Du Simitière’s manuscript collection purchased at this auction. The collection reflects his interests and his lifestyle and includes poetry, sketches, watercolors, newspaper excerpts and clippings, treatise, correspondence, lists of nature, historical chronologies, bibliographies, and copies and originals of historical documents. The collection includes compiled information on places such as the West Indies, Pennsylvania, New England, New York, and the Carolinas in the form of historical chronologies, documents, bibliographies, sketches, and narratives. It includes information, documents, and research on many Native American groups and Creoles. The collection also contains information, documents, and research on historical events in the United States such as the Jacob Leisler case, politics in New York, the American Revolution, the colonization of America, and the Pennsylvania Line Mutiny. With the exception of a few miscellaneous items, the collection’s focus is on the years 1720 to 1780. (PDF)

Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson papers

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Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson (1737-1801), considered to be the outstanding female poet of her place and time, was a leader in the literary world of colonial Pennsylvania and an avid writer, who composed poems, songs, travel accounts and other writings, referencing literature, natural history, religion, politics and current events. This collection consists of six volumes of writings which probably represent all of her work, most of which is unpublished. Researchers interested in Elizabeth Graeme Fergusson, women authors in colonial America and the early United States, or a female commentary on contemporary events will find this collection to be extremely valuable. (PDF)

George Gillespie notes taken from Dr. Thomas Young’s Lectures on Midwifery

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Dr. Thomas Young, 1730-1783, was appointed a professor of midwifery at the University of Edinburgh from 1756 until his death in 1783. He is generally considered to be the father of the University of Edinburgh’s School of Obstetrics. During his tenure, he created a Lying-In Ward at the Royal Infirmary, later the Edinburgh Maternity Hospital, to give clinical lectures. George Gillespie appears to have been a student of Dr. Young, and this collection consists of two volumes containing Gillespie’s verbatim notes of Dr. Young’s Lectures on Midwifery at the University of Edinburgh in 1761. (PDF)

Sadakichi Hartmann

Sadakichi Hartmann (1867-1944) was a writer, poet, critic, and a notable figure in early modernism. A number of his writings reflected his interest in religious philosophies. This collection includes Hartmann’s manuscripts, poetry, and correspondence with the Library Company of Philadelphia, which he donated to the Library Company over the course of his life. The materials in the collection span from 1887 to 1942.  (PDF)

Lea and Febiger Records

In 1785, Mathew Carey (1760-1839) founded Mathew Carey & Co., one of Philadelphia’s most successful publishing houses. The firm began printing a variety of works; however by the late 1830s, it specialized in scientific and medical publications. The firm changed its name a number of times, becoming Lea and Febiger in 1907. This is a collection of papers related to the Lea & Febiger publishing firm from 1815 to 1992, and everything is arranged alphabetically by topic. The collection contains a wide array of material such as correspondence, author agreements and contracts, partnership agreements, registration and transfers of copyrights, and records pertaining to the publication of the History of All Nations and centenary editions of Gray’s Anatomy. There are also sales and distribution agreements, financial volumes, catalogues and brochures, publication lists, newspaper clippings, articles, photographs, and documentation of the company’s history, including a photograph album of its 200th anniversary celebration. (PDF)

Thomas Leiper and family business records

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Thomas Leiper (1745-1825) was introduced into the business of tobacco shortly after his arrival in Virginia in 1763. Within several years, he moved to Philadelphia where he opened a tobacco shop. During the Revolutionary War, Leiper became the principal tobacco provider in Philadelphia. In 1776, Leiper purchased land in Delaware County that included a mill at a waterfall on the Crum Creek. He established snuff mills and later purchased a stone quarry. The Thomas Leiper and family business records include correspondence, country estate records, and business and financial records of the family’s paper, lumber and wood working businesses, quarry business, and tobacco business dating from 1771 to 1947. (PDF)

Library Company of Philadelphia minute books

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In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and a group of intellectual Philadelphians established the Library Company of Philadelphia, a subscription library supported by its shareholders. The Library Company flourished because it adopted a purchasing policy responsive to the needs of its intellectually alert, economically ambitious, but non-elite membership. The Library Company of Philadelphia is now an independent research library specializing in American society and culture from the 17th to 19th centuries. The history of this organization is best documented by its minute books dating from 1731 to 2000. The collection consists of minute books documenting the meetings of the Directors (both the final approved version of the minutes and the rough drafts of the minutes), 1731 to 2000; the Trustees of the Loganian Library, 1853 to 1876; and the Committee for Fixing the Value of Lost Books, 1785 to 1848. In addition to meeting minutes, the minute books include financial reports, and supporting materials such as excerpts from annual reports, exhibition announcements, menus and correspondence. These volumes effectively tell the history of the Library Company of Philadelphia and document the establishment of and challenges of a 200 year old institution’s struggles to maintain its mission, resources, and quality through financial and societal changes. Researchers interested in the history of the Library Company of Philadelphia, Philadelphia history, or libraries will find this collection to be of great value. (PDF)

Library Company of Philadelphia publications

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In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and a group of intellectual Philadelphians established the Library Company of Philadelphia, a subscription library supported by its shareholders. The Library Company of Philadelphia is now an independent research library specializing in American society and culture from the 17th to 19th centuries. The mission of the Library Company of Philadelphia includes preserving, interpreting, making available, and augmenting the valuable materials within its care. In order to achieve this mission, the Library Company of Philadelphia curates exhibits, hosts symposia and conferences, and publishes works regarding the Library Company and its collections. This collection consists of printed material created by the Library Company of Philadelphia. Included are brochures; information about resources and services; event brochures, announcements, exhibit catalogues, and conference programs; and published works regarding the Library Company of Philadelphia or the materials held by the Library Company of Philadelphia. (PDF)

Library Company of Philadelphia Shareholders records

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In 1731, Benjamin Franklin and a number of his fellow members of the Junto founded the Library Company of Philadelphia, in order to provide its members access to books that they could not afford to purchase individually, but could afford to purchase collectively. Fifty subscribers invested forty shillings each and promised to pay ten shillings a year thereafter to buy books and maintain a shareholder’s library. Thus “the Mother of all American Subscription Libraries” was established. Over the years, the Library Company continues to be supported by its members who participate in a centuries-old tradition by becoming shareholders and therefore allowing the Library Company of Philadelphia to continue serving the public, free of charge. This collection consists of twelve volumes of shareholders records dating from 1742 to 2007. The volumes, Record Books A to L, document share purchases and transfers of shares. Entries include date, name of member, and occasionally brief notes on circumstances of share transfers. They also provide information about the history of the Library Company of Philadelphia as well as some information on the men and women who became members. (PDF)

Logan family papers

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The Logan family was prominent in Philadelphia from the start of the province, serving the people in many capacities, including political, medical and literary. This is a collection of manuscripts obtained by the Library Company of Philadelphia that relates to the Logan family. The collection includes papers of the Logan family members Albanus Charles, Algernon Sydney, Deborah Norris, William Jr., and James as well as family materials collected by Frances A. Logan and William Logan Fox. The collection dates from 1684 to 1925 and consists of family papers, correspondence, diaries, writings, medical texts, lecture notes, financial records, poetry, visiting cards, and invitations. (PDF)

James Barton Longacre Collection

James Barton Longacre (1794-1869) was an artist, portraitist, and engraver. His accomplishments include engraving the portraits for the decorative reproduction of the Declaration of Independence published by John Binns in 1819 and working as an editor and engraver of The National Portrait Gallery of Distinguished Americans, issued between 1834 and 1839. He served as the fourth Chief Engraver of the United States Mint from 1844 to 1869, where he designed at least ten U.S. coins and several medals. The collection contains 1,500 engravings, drawings, correspondence, diaries, daybooks, die trials, and printing plates.

James Barton Longacre Manuscript Collection [PDF]

James Barton Longacre Graphic Arts Collection [PDF]

James Barton Longacre Numismatic & Printing Plate Collection [PDF]

The James Barton Longacre Collection finding aids were made possible by the generosity of our Sponsor Kurt Brintzenhofe.

John A. McAllister

The John A. McAllister Collection is as massive as it is diverse. At its core are tens of thousands of examples of printed ephemera, most from the Civil War years. Manuscripts are an important part of the McAllister Collection, and contain the earliest material within the collection. The papers and documents range in date over two centuries (1683-1872), and primarily relate to the history of Philadelphia and the region: the records of three banks, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia, several merchants and manufacturers, and a variety of family and personal papers. There are twenty-nine finding aids available for the manuscripts of John A. McAllister.

Morris-Strettel-Milligan Papers

A finding aid is yet to be created for this collection, but a rough inventory is linked here. This collection includes numerous important papers of the Morris, Strettel, and Milligan families, primarily in the form of correspondence, deeds, and broadsides, donated anonymously in memory of Elizabeth W. Bendiner. Highlights include two vellum deeds signed by William Penn in 1681; letters written to Samuel Cadwalader Morris from his family wile he was serving in Washington’s army, from 1776 to 1778; and letters between his father Samuel Morris and the merchant Samuel Powel while the latter was in England, 1760 to 1767, including long accounts of the Stamp Act crisis as seen in both countries.   Broadsides are also found among the papers, including the first announcement in America (24 March 1783) that the British and the French had agreed to recognize American independence as a preliminary to peace negotiations. (PDF)

Samuel George Morton papers

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Samuel George Morton (1799-1851) of Philadelphia was a physician and natural scientist whose work focused on the craniometric studies of humans with conclusions regarding the relative intellectual capacities of the “five races.” His work had a profound influence on the development of physical anthropology in antebellum America. He also made contributions in the fields of geology, mineralogy, paleontology and natural history. Morton served as a professor of medicine at Pennsylvania College (now, the University of Pennsylvania). This collection contains mainly the papers of Samuel George Morton, which date from 1832 to 1851, when Morton devoted his research efforts almost exclusively to ethnology and to the collecting of human skulls for comparative studies. The bulk of the papers consist of incoming correspondence, from 1832 to 1851, relating to ethnology and other related interests such as anthropology, craniology, paleontology and Egyptology. The remainder of the collection contains the papers of Samuel George Morton’s son, James St. Clair Morton, who served as an engineer during the Civil War. (PDF)

Powel Family Papers

The first Powel (Powell) to immigrate to America, Samuel Powel (b. 1673-1756), reached Pennsylvania in 1685. A boy at the time of his passage, Samuel pursued a career in carpentry and became one of the most respected craftsmen in his field. Over time he purchased or built more than ninety Philadelphia properties, which became the basis for the Powel financial legacy documented in this collection. The family he started with wife Abigail Wilcox would go on, in future generations, to produce some of the wealthiest and most prominent citizens of the city. Materials in this collection document the inheritance of the Powel land estate that was accumulated by Samuel Powel. Financial records and some land documents trace this legacy through four generations of Powel family members including Samuel Powel (1704-1759), Samuel Powel (1738-1793), Elizabeth Willing Powel (1743-1830), and John Hare Powel (1786- 1856). (PDF)

Proprietor of Pennsylvania accounts

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The British colony of Pennsylvania was given to William Penn (1644-1718) in 1681 by Charles II of England in repayment of a debt owed his father, Sir Admiral William Penn (1621-1670). Under Penn’s directive, Pennsylvania was settled by Quakers escaping religious torment in England and other European nations. Three generations of Penn descendents held proprietorship of the colony until the American Revolution, when the family was stripped of all but its privately held shares of land. This collection consists of a volume recording the transactions of William Penn’s proprietary government of Pennsylvania, including date, name of seller or customer, item or service, and amount paid. This volume dates from 1701 to 1704. (PDF)

Read family papers

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The Read family consistently played an important role in American government and politics from the time that George Read, a Delaware resident, signed the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Throughout the 17th to 19th centuries, the Reads served as lawyers, judges, politicians, generals, consul-generals and foreign ministers. This collection contains the papers of four generations of the Read family of Philadelphia, consisting of John Read, Judge John Meredith Read, General John Meredith Read, and Harmon Pumpelly Read. The materials date from 1736 to 1896, with the bulk dating from 1792 to 1896, and include extensive correspondence, bills and receipts, genealogical notes, legal documents, newspaper clippings, photographs, scrapbooks and ephemera. The majority of the collection consists of General John Meredith Read’s papers relating to his family history and genealogy, correspondence, and political materials. The collection is particularly valuable in illustrating Philadelphia social life, global and local politics, as well as Civil War experiences, as it includes extensive correspondence describing first-hand accounts as well as with several key political figures during the Civil War era. (PDF)

Peter Renaudet medical apprentice notebook

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This collection consists of a medical apprentice notebook containing the observations of a mid-18th century New York apprentice, Peter Renaudet. It is a record of clinical cases, in which Renaudet describes the patient’s ailments, treatments prescribed, and the result of those treatments. (PDF)

Rush family papers

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The Rush Family papers includes material from Benjamin Rush, physician, social activist, educator, writer and patriot; his brother Jacob Rush, lawyer, Supreme Court judge, and patriot; and Benjamin’s son James Rush, physician and Treasurer of the United States Mint. These American men were “strong characters, zealous patriots during the stirring period in which they lived, tenacious of their convictions and of the high standard of individual duty which they set for others, and typified in themselves,” (Richards, page 53). The bulk of the collection is the papers of Dr. Benjamin Rush and his son Dr. James Rush. Judge Jacob, John, Richard and William are represented, but to a much lesser degree. The other Rush family members are represented in a very limited manner. The collection contains correspondence; financial records; medical notes, lectures, and case histories; writings regarding medicine, politics, and the judicial system; and observations on colonial Philadelphia, the formation of the United States, and the new nation. (PDF)

Smith Family Papers

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John Jay Smith (1798-1881) was librarian of the Library Company of Philadelphia from 1829 to 1851 and founder of Laurel Hill Cemetery. As a member of an influential Quaker family, Smith was the descendant of several prominent early Philadelphians including James Logan and Richard Hill. Much of the collection consists of deeds and other land transactions as well as correspondence and diaries originating with these ancestors. Smith’s own papers document his wide range of interests as well as his personal and professional relationships through correspondence, financial records, and memorabilia. The collection also contains materials originating from the families of two of Smith’s sons: Lloyd Pearsall Smith (1822-1886) and Horace John Smith (1832-1906). This collection is particularly rich in documenting the history of two prominent Philadelphia institutions, the Library Company and Laurel Hill Cemetery. Additionally, materials from early Smith family ancestors which document early Philadelphia landownership and the Quaker community may be of particular interest to researchers. This collection may also be of interest for its numerous diaries and albums containing original illustrations, botanical specimens, and other ephemera.

Stevens-Cogdell-Sanders-Venning collection

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The Stevens-Cogdell-Sanders-Venning family papers document the development of a white family and a black prominent middle class African American family in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, beginning with the 1760s emigration of John Stevens from England to South Carolina. The materials date from 1734 to 1976 and consist of scrapbooks, ephemera, newspaper clippings, Common Prayer books, invitations, holiday cards, correspondence, business papers, and a variety of personal papers. The materials document the Stevens-Cogdell-Sanders-Venning families’ professional, family, and personal lives as well as the development of a prominent middle class African American family. (PDF)

Gerard van Swieten dictata in materia medica

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Gerard van Swieten (1770-1772) was a Dutch-Austrian physician who served as the personal physician to Austrian Empress Maria Theresa in 1745 and transformed the Austrian health services as well as medical university education. This collection consists of eight volumes of medical writings in Latin concerning nutrition, pharmacy, and surgery. Several pages at the beginning of Volume I, and a few pages elsewhere, are translated into English on the facing pages. (PDF)

Thomas Wilkey journal on board the U.S.S. Delaware

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Thomas Wilkey served under Stephen Decatur (1752-1808) in the United States Navy during the Quasi-War with France aboard the U.S.S. Delaware. During the course of the Quasi-War, the U.S.S. Delaware sailed between New York and the West Indies, protecting American ships from the French privateers. Wilkey’s journal contains daily records of the U.S.S. Delaware’s voyages in 1798, including weather conditions, courses set, latitude and longitude, daily activities, and encounters with other ships, including privateers. (PDF)

Williams Papers

This collection contains documents relating to real estate owned by the Williams Family of Philadelphia, 1846-1896, including William J. Williams, Isaac L. Williams, Nathaniel Williams, J.E. Williams, and Anne E. Williams. Documents include rent receipts, tax receipts, and household accounts. (PDF)

The professional and personal papers of Edwin Wolf 2nd

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Edwin Wolf 2nd (1911-1991) was a librarian, bibliophile, author, historian, Franklin scholar, and a civic leader in Philadelphia. Wolf was Curator of the Library Company from 1953 to 1955, and then served as Librarian from 1955 to 1984. During those years, he led the Library Company though a period of rejuvenation, growth, and prosperity. The Edwin Wolf 2nd papers contain correspondence, research files, volumes, publications, photographs, and other records that document the education, career, and personal family life of one of Philadelphia’s most prominent bookmen during the 20th century. (PDF)

Wood Webb Family Papers

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The Wood Webb Family Papers describes the lives of Annie E. Wood (1831-1879), John G. Webb (1823-1904), and their descendants. The family was an elite multiracial family who lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Annie E. Wood was the daughter of Edith “Edy” Wood, an emancipated Black woman living in North Carolina and James Cathcart Johnston, a white planter. Annie and her sister Mary Virginia Wood were born in North Carolina and relocate to Philadelphia in 1833. The materials date from 1848 to 1952 and consist of manuscript letters, ephemera, photographs, books and a variety of personal papers. (PDF)