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Expanding resources to broaden and deepen your research

Through donations and purchases, our collection of manuscripts and publications continues to grow. In 2022, the Library has added:

  • Over 300 new titles in published materials, and

  • 78 new archival collections measuring 108.23 linear feet.

The newly accessioned manuscript collections cover over three centuries of political, industrial, artistic, community, and family history. A few highlights include:

Philadelphia artist at work at the world’s fair in San Francisco

Philadelphia sculptor Alexander Stirling Calder received a commission to work on various sculpture groups for the Panama-Pacific Exposition held in San Francisco in 1915. This collection consists of seventy silver prints, each measuring about 3 x 5.5 inches, that document his work as acting chief of the sculpture program; they include interior and exterior views of his studio, his many assistants, and details of the works themselves.

A civil servant’s view of labor during the Great Depression

William E. Collier worked for Pennsylvania's Bureau of Employment Security in several capacities from the 1930s to the 1960s. A majority of his work related to Pennsylvania's response to the Great Depression, unemployment compensation, and labor unions. The collection contains Collier's professional papers, consisting of correspondence, pamphlets, conference proceedings, and a few photographs. Collier was also an avid amateur historian, and he was particularly interested in the history of Bucks County. Active with the Bucks County Historical Society, he conducted research on local history topics.

Our neighborhood's recent development and history

Located at 13th and Locust Streets, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania sits in the neighborhood encompassed by the WSWCA. This collection of the organization's records is made up of a variety of administrative papers, including copies of bylaws; meeting minutes; project files, among which are items on Kahn Park and community gardens; and grant files. One of the founders of the organization, Pauline Fuiman, worked as one of the first female real estate brokers in Philadelphia in the mid 20th century.

An intimate account of America's deadliest conflict

Philadelphian John W. Carlisle enlisted in the Union Army in Philadelphia in 1861. His very detailed and extensive 190-page diary dates between 1861 to 1866 with nearly daily entries ranging from single sentences to full pages of text. (At left, HSP Councilor Alice George presents this donation in honor of retiring Librarian Dr. Lee Arnold.)

Genealogical collections detail the American experience

Over a quarter of the newly-acquired archival collections can be described as family collections. Typically donated by a descendent, they may include published family trees, Bible records, marriage certificates and other vital record documents, and they offer valuable stepping stones for other family historians' research. In addition to their genealogical value, these collections offer an intimate view of families, both immigrant and non-immigrant, living through significant historical moments and mundane, private events. Encompassing more than 300 years, the recent additions include wartime letters between enlisted men and their loved ones, serving in conflicts from the Revolutionary war through WWII; diaries dating from the Great Depression; WWII ration books; love letters between newlyweds in 1906; and artwork created for private audiences - taufschiene, glass slides of local scenes, and a home movie from 1940.

Whether you are a journalist, a history student, a family historian, a scholar, a creative writer, an artist, or anyone else curious about those who came before us, we invite you to bring the past into conversation with your present. Reach out to us with inquiries or book a spot in our Reading Room. We look forward to joining you on your historical journeys.

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