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Celebrating Two Hundred Years

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1824-2024

This year marks the 200th anniversary of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania! Since HSP’s founding in 1824, we have collected and preserved an astonishing array of documents that bring the people of the past into conversation with us today. We enter our third century eager to invite you to find yourself in history. To connect with the past and make meaningful discoveries about who you are and who we are together. Join us in this endeavor to explore our shared American history.

As part of our anniversary celebration, HSP is teaming up with partners to develop collaborative programming and joint exhibits based on the strategic themes of our collection. 

The exhibits can be viewed free of charge anytime during library open hours. In addition to its schedule of special programming, HSP’s library is open for research Tuesday through Friday. Make an appointment to explore the countless stories that are told by its collections.

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Venture into our collection with Two Hundred Years: The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, 1824-2024 (Ed. David R. Brigham), the first book to survey the more than twenty-one million documents, newspapers, graphics, and rare books in HSP's archive.

Exhibits and Signature Lectures

Upcoming Exhibit

Cartoons as Political Speech in Colonial and Contemporary America

Strategic Theme — Pennsylvania: Crucible of a Nation

June 11 - August 2, 2024

Organized by Dr. David R. Brigham, HSP’s Librarian and CEO, this exhibit highlights HSP’s strategic collecting theme, Pennsylvania: Crucible of the Nation, which traces the important role that the Commonwealth has played throughout American history in shaping our nation’s development. 


This exhibit touches on Philadelphia’s role in late colonial and Revolutionary politics, burgeoning publishing and print culture, and transatlantic commerce and communication.

Brigham says, “HSP’s collection of political cartoons is a visually rich and interesting record of the struggle to form the new nation, the emergence of partisan politics, and the dynamic role of Philadelphia at the end of the 18th century.  We are delighted that Signe Wilkinson has lent her original artwork to add a contemporary lens on the tradition of cartooning.”   

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Can She Say That? Signe Wilkinson Cartoons a Man's World

June 11, 2024 | 6:00 PM
Hybrid - onsite at 1300 Locust Street  & on Zoom

HSP will host Pulitzer Prize - winning editorial cartoonist Signe Wilkinson, who will deliver a talk entitled “Can She Say That? Signe Wilkinson Cartoons A Man’s World”. Ms. Wilkinson's career spans over 40 years. Her cartoons have appeared in the San Jose Mercury News,  Philadelphia Daily News, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, most recently as a recurring feature in the Opinion section. She is the illustrator for Jonathan Zimmerman's Free Speech: And Why You Should Give a Damn (2021). 

The Historical Society of Pennsylvania joins Philadelphia’s Historic District for the first annual Red, White, & Blue To-Do, a day of “pomp and parade,” as John Adams declared in 1776. Celebrate independence where it began!

HSP will host a drop-in, political cartoon-making activity. In this election year, you can learn to express your own view with creative help from the past! Art materials and step-by-step instructions, as well as a selection of cartoon fragments from across time and across the political spectrum will be available for you to assemble. Make your voice (pencil) heard!

Special appearance by Signe Wilkinson at 2pm! Ms. Wilkinson will demonstrate her content creation and composition process.

Red, White, and Blue To-Do:
Making Political Cartoons

July 2, 2024
10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Free and Drop - In
No reservation necessary

Taller Puertorriqueno

Strategic Theme — America’s Promise and Its Many Voices

August 21 - October 7, 2024

Taller Puertorriqueño, a community based cultural organization whose primary purpose is to preserve, develop, and promote Puerto Rican arts and culture, grounded in the conviction that embracing one’s cultural heritage is empowering. Taller is also committed to the representation and support of other Latino cultural expressions and our common roots.

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Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania

Strategic Theme — What’s Your Story? Chronicling Families and Communities

October 14 - November 22, 2024

Founded in 1892, the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania (GSP) is one of the earliest genealogical societies in the United States, among the first to recognize the value of collecting and preserving the vital and personal records of people whose lives comprise much of our American history. GSP provides leadership and support in promoting genealogy through education, preservation, and access to Pennsylvania-related genealogical information.

Association for Public Art

Exhibit — Public Art in Philadelphia: A Legacy Shaped by Women

Strategic Theme — The Soul of America: Visual, Performing, and Literary Arts

January 30 - March 15, 2024

This display highlights the historic accomplishments and recent contributions of women who have worked in the public art field as artists, benefactors, and leaders. Exploring the Association for Public Art’s archival collection at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, as well as contemporary materials housed at aPA, the exhibit provides insight into the long-lasting impact of women’s contributions to the ongoing public art landscape both, locally and nationally.

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The Association for Public Art (aPA) plays a vital role in commissioning and preserving public art in Philadelphia, while promoting the part that art plays in the creation and enhancement of public spaces. Founded in 1872, 50 years younger than the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, aPA has helped to significantly shape Philadelphia’s urban environment through design and planning efforts. The organization continues to care for and maintain a large portion of the city’s historic sculptures, while producing new ambitious and engaging public art projects for everyone.

In partnership with the Association for Public Art, HSP hosted artist Xenobia Bailey as its 200th Anniversary signature talk for the theme Soul of America: Literary, Visual, and Performing Arts. Ms. Bailey is a fiber-artist, crocheter, designer, researcher, and cultural activist.

Artist Talk: Xenobia Bailey

March 13, 2024

Independence Historical Trust

Exhibit — “All View It As an Object of High Importance”: Banking in the Early Republic

Strategic Theme — Americans and Innovation: Science, Technology, and Enterprise

April 16 - May 31, 2024

“All View It As an Object of High Importance”: Banking in the Early Republic highlighted the development of the banking industry in America, from the American Revolution to the 1840s.  The battles over how to fund the War for Independence and early government initiative played out through the chartering of  national banks . This exhibit featured documents from the collections from the Bank of North America,  and the papers of leaders involved in the First and Second Banks of the United States. 

Established in 1972, the Independence Historical Trust (formerly known as the Friends of Independence National Historical Park) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization created to help Independence National Historical Park (INHP) prepare for the bicentennial celebration of the United States in 1976. In its 51-year history, the Trust has helped fund major capital improvement projects, as well as the acquisition and conservation of important documents and artifacts.

In partnership with the Independence Historical Trust, HSP hosted author Richard Vague as its 200th Anniversary signature talk for the theme Americans and Innovation: Science, Technology, and Enterprise. Mr. Vague, a businessperson, venture capitalist, and author, shared his research into the financial industry of early America.

Innovator Talk: Richard Vague

May 1, 2024

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