The Rare Book Department is temporarily closed.

Rare Book Department

1901 Vine Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103

Department is temporarily closed.

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Upcoming Events

Hands-on History Presents: Organized Labor in Philadelphia

Sat, May 9, 2020 2:00 P.M.

The history of organized labor reflects the cultural, often radical, values of the working class at a particular place and time. Participants will interact with a selection of books and magazines focused on trade unionism. Among the rare pieces that will be shared is a script for the stage play…

Adult Young Adult School Age Senior Family Programs Speakers and Lectures Other Great Programs One Book, One Philadelphia Art Family Literature Movies & Television Rare Books, Manuscripts, & Digital Collections Social Science Special Collections Hands-On History

Opening March 30: Medieval Life: European Manuscripts in Philadelphia Libraries 

 


The Rare Book Department offers free access to exhibitions of historically important books, manuscripts, and works of art from 3,000 BCE to today. Among its collections are thousands of illuminated medieval manuscripts and cuttings; first editions, letters, and manuscripts of important writers, including some of the largest collections of Charles Dickens and Edgar Allan Poe; nearly 50,000 early American children's books; original artwork by Beatrix Potter and other illustrators; Mughal court paintings; and Pennsylvania German fraktur, manuscripts, and printed books. Many, but not all, of the Rare Book Department's holdings have been cataloged, but please feel free to contact us for more information about our holdings.

Group visits and educational programs are available by prior arrangement and researchers are invited to make an appointment to use collection materials. Guided tours of the department and the William McIntire Elkins Library are offered Monday through Saturday at 11:00 a.m. with no appointment necessary. For our friends on social media, highlights from our collections are regularly posted to our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram accounts. You can reach the Rare Book Department at 215-686-5416 or by email, or check out some of our most frequently asked questions.