Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Shop our online store for holiday gifts and cards at cafe press.
Click here

For holiday themed framed prints from Diane Publishing click here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

New Online Digital Catalog

We have recently upgraded ImPAC, our digital collections catalog, to DigiTool, a Digital Asset Management System that replaces ENCompass, our former platform. The new ImPAC provides the user with enhanced features including improved searching, easier collection browsing, and the ability to zoom and rotate images. Almost all of the digital collections from the previous system have been migrated into DigiTool, and we are looking forward to uploading more records in the coming months. ImPAC can be accessed through our homepage by clicking on the ImPAC logo. The Library Company thanks the William Penn Foundation for its generous support of our online digital catalog and Walt Rice of R & R Computer Solutions for his technical assistance.

The Library Company of Philadelphia, 1314 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107 (TEL) 215-546-3181 (FAX) 215-546-5167

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Slavery's Constitution

Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification

Wednesday, October 14, 6:00 p.m.

David Waldstreicher, Professor of History at Temple University and author of Runaway America and In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes; will discuss his new book Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification, which explores the impact of slavery on the United States Constitution. By tracing slavery from before the Revolution, through the Constitution’s framing, and into the public debate that followed, Waldstreicher rigorously shows that slavery was not only actively discussed behind the closed and locked doors of the Constitutional Convention, but that it was also deftly woven into the Constitution itself.

This event, presented by the Library Company’s Program in African American History, and co-sponsored by the National Constitution Center is open to the public free of charge. Please RSVP to or call 215-546-3181.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Exhibition Opening and Daguerreotype Lecture by Keith Davis

Exhibition Opening: Catching A Shadow

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reception at 5:30 p.m., program at 6:00

Keith F. Davis, Curator of Photography at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, in Kansas City, and author of numerous books including The Origins of American Photography: From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, 1839-1885, will speak about the remarkable achievement of the world’s first successful photographic process – the daguerreotype – and Philadelphia’s vital role in the history of early photography in America. This event is presented by the Visual Culture Program at the Library Company (VCP@LCP).

This event is free and open to the public. To RSVP, call 215-546-3181 or email

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer project increases access to early 20th-century photograph collection

With support from the Samuel S. Fels Fund the Library Company is pleased to make a wonderful collection of photographs available for public research and use. The collection consists of more than 200 portraits taken ca. 1910-1940 by local photographer John Frank Keith (1883-1947) in the neighborhoods of South Philadelphia and Kensington. Keith captured residents of these working-class neighborhoods socializing on their front stoops, posing with family members and friends on the sidewalk, and dressed up for special occasions such as First Communion.

Throughout the summer, the Library Company’s Fels intern, Charlene Peacock will work with our Print and Photograph and Cataloging departments to increase access to this important body of work. We have already digitized the collection and posted the images on Flickr Later this summer we will launch an online exhibition that will provide biographical information about Keith and situate his work in a historical context, both in photographic history and within the history of Philadelphia’s neighborhoods. We also plan to catalog the photographs for inclusion in our digital collections catalog, ImPAC Stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Jane Johnson Marker Dedication

Jane Marker Dedication

Philadelphia: July 7, 2009On July 18, 1855, one hundred fifty-four years ago, Jane Johnson, an enslaved woman from North Carolina, found herself in Philadelphia on free soil for the first time. She seized the opportunity and fled to freedom with her two young sons Daniel and Isaiah, aided by William Still, the African American head of the Vigilance Committee of the local Underground Railroad, and Passmore Williamson, his white colleague. Johnson escaped from her owner, Colonel John H. Wheeler, while the party was on its way to New York to take ship for his post as American minister to Nicaragua.

A dramatic legal battle ensued with proslavery U.S. District Court judge John Kintzing Kane. Johnson was an active participant in the nearly three-month proceedings. Williamson’s incarceration for contempt brought about national attention, and he was released in November of 1855. William Still and other defendants were acquitted of riot and assault and battery.

Johnson remained the center of a national whirlwind of publicity throughout her stay in Philadelphia, and she made a significant contribution to the antislavery cause by speaking out with dignity and courage. After her tumultuous ordeal in Philadelphia, Johnson and her family settled in Boston.

Jane Johnson’s stay in Philadelphia and her active participation in the legal battle that ensued after her escape set events in motion that continued to rage in Philadelphia as well as in the national press. Her escape was the focus of a hostile and precedent-setting legal case that inspired the antislavery cause while it further intensified North-South conflict.

On the anniversary of this historic event, the Library Company of Philadelphia will join the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission in dedicating an official State Historical Marker commemorating the liberation of Jane Johnson. The marker dedication ceremony will take place on Saturday, July 18, 2009 near the entrance of the Independence Seaport Museum at Penn’s Landing, 211 South Columbus Blvd. and Walnut St. at 4:00 p.m.

This event is open to the public free of charge. To register, phone 215-546-3181, or e-mail

Click Here for Peter Mancall on the Daily Show

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Peter Mancall on the Daily Show

Peter Mancall will be a guest tonight on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. He will discuss his new book: “Fatal Journey: The Final Expedition of Henry Hudson: A Tale of Mutiny and Murder in the Arctic ”. Peter is a former fellow and will be delivering at the Library Company of Philadelphia on September 16, 2009.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Annual Meeting Re-Cap

Over one hundred people attended the Library Company’s Annual Meeting on May 12, 2009. This year’s meeting featured Kenneth Finkel, Distinguished Lecturer in Temple University’s American Studies Program, who spoke about the Library Company’s recent Snider Collection acquisitions and their potential. New Trustees Joseph S. Martz, John C. Tuten, and Hon. James R. Roebuck, Jr. were formally elected to the Board, and Beatrice W. B. Garvan, Carol E. Soltis, Charles E. Rosenberg, and Gordon M. Marshall were re-elected. Board member Bob DeMento was recognized for the many new Shareholders and Friends he has brought to the Library Company, and receptionist Charlene Knight was honored for her fifteen years of service. Podcasts of the Annual Meeting (Click Here) and Kenneth Finkel’s talk (Click Here and select "Events from the video viewer menu) are available on the Library Company’s website.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Juneteenth Freedom Forum

Friday, June 19, 2009

Reception at 5:30 p.m., program at 6:00.

Join us at the Library Company on Friday, June 19th for our Juneteenth Freedom Forum, featuring three area scholars discussing the African American struggle for freedom in the era of the Civil War and beyond.

Dr. Robert Francis Engs, Professor of History (retired) University of Pennsylvania, “Who Freed the Slaves? The black Revolutionary Struggle for Freedom.”

Dr. Elizabeth Varon, Professor of History and Associate Director, Center for the Humanities, Temple University, “From Appomattox to Juneteenth: Lee’s Defeat and the End of Slavery.”

Dr. Randall M. Miller, Professor of History, St. Joseph’s University, “Juneteenth, Before and After: African American Freedom Celebrations, Historical Memory, and Contemporary Activism.”

This event is the Library Company’s third annual Juneteenth commemoration, sponsored by our Program in African American History with support from The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation.

The event is open to the public free of charge, but seating is limited and advance registration is requested. To register, phone 215-546-3181, or e-mail

Above image: View of Transparency in Front of Headquarters of Supervisory Committee for Recruiting Colored Regiments . . . in Commemoration of Emancipation in Maryland, November 1, 1864. Wood engraving (Philadelphia: Ringwalt and Brown, 1864).

New Exhibition

On May 4 the Library Company unveiled its new exhibition, Mirror of a City: Views of Philadelphia Recently Acquired from the Jay T. Snider Collection. Mr. Snider, a former Library Company Trustee and avid collector of historical items, sold much of his Philadelphia-related material at a November 2008 sale organized by the New York City office of Bloomsbury Auctions. Over the years, Mr. Snider had gathered a very comprehensive collection of the iconography of the growth and development of Philadelphia. From a rare 1684 Dutch edition of Thomas Holme’s plan of Philadelphia to astonishingly beautiful mid-19th-century graphics of a bustling, vibrant city, the 375 lots comprising the sale chronicled the city’s past. “It is unlikely,” wrote auctioneer Jeremy Markowitz, “that such an assemblage of important books, manuscripts, and graphics all relating to Philadelphia, could be assembled again.” Thanks in part to the generous financial assistance of Mr. Snider and the efforts of antiquarian bookseller Clarence Wolf (who represented the Library Company at the auction without charge), the Library Company successfully acquired thirty-one of the thirty-six lots on which we bid.
Read on...