Below you will find general information about some of our collections.
According to §21-901A of the Philadelphia Code, the Free Library is required to collect and maintain formal reports and publications of "any office, department, board or commission of the City, including City Council and the Mayor, and any public authority or non-profit corporation supported in whole or in part from the City Treasury." The Philadelphia Collection spans the breadth of our city's history in primary source materials, including annual reports, budgets, and other publications from city agencies such as the School District, Police Department, Bureau of Hospitals, Philadelphia City Planning Commission, and others. Background information relating to virtually every aspect of Philadelphia history and politics may be found in this rich collection.
- The Philadelphia Name census from 1790 to 1930, on microfilm, and also available through our subscription to the database HeritageQuest.
- Journals of Common and Select Councils of Philadelphia, from 1835.
- Ordinances of the City of Philadelphia, from 1701.
- MOVE Commission Hearings, 1985.
- Committee of 15 Reports, 1948.
- Philadelphia Codes.
The materials in our Pennsylvania Collection span the early nineteenth century to current. We are a designated Commonwealth of Pennsylvania depository library. The Pennsylvania Collection includes such varied subjects as the state's military history, constitutional and legislative history, corporate and financial history, natural history, and agriculture.
Items of interest in the collection:
- The Pennsylvania Archives.
- Small's Legislative handbook and Pennsylvania Manual from 1868.
- Pennsylvania Legislative Journals from 1792.
- The Laws of Pennsylvania from 1700.
- History of Senate Bills from 1919; History of House Bills from 1917.
- Maritime Records for the Port of Philadelphia from 1793.
- Pennsylvania Game News and Pennsylvania Angler.
The bulk of the Government Publications collection is federal documents. Nearly every federal agency is represented in this collection which includes historical as well as current primary source documents. The collection is particularly strong in congressional hearings.
Much federal information is available in electronic format, but paper is still preferred by many patrons. Below is a list of important government sources available in the department or offsite at the Regional Operations Center in paper or microform. Links lead to available electronic versions or descriptions of the documents.
- United States Congressional Serial Set. The department has over 2400 volumes of this historically important set, and also subscribes to the United States Congressional Serial Set from Readex. See a list of our Serial Set Inventory.
- Annals of Congress, the Congressional Globe, and the Congressional Record, complete and in paper.
- Congressional Hearings, from 1839.
- Congressional Bills, from 1789.
- Statistical Abstract of the United States, from 1878.
- Uniform Crime Reports, from 1930.
- U.S. Code, every edition since 1934.
- Code of Federal Regulations, from 1977.
- Federal Register, from 1937.
- Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, 1880 –.
- Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion, 1870.
- Armed Services Directories
- Nuremberg Trials, 1947.
- Warren Commission Reports
- Historical weather statistics
- Catalog of Copyright Entries, 1906 – 1977
- Complete U.S. Decennial Census, 1790 – current.
Our department also houses law materials, including a circulating collection of books on popular legal topics such as divorce, wills, real estate, contract, and business law. This collection includes the United States Code Annotated (USCA), Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Purdon's Pennsylvania Statutes, the Pennsylvania Code, and various court rules. We have the United States Reports (the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court) from 1754. Our department does not carry case law.