Free Library Online Catalog

Only some items in the Rare Book Department are searchable in our online catalog. Search the FLP Catalog by author/title/subject and limit By Location (Rare Book Department). Limiting to Rare Book Department will eliminate holdings in branches and other Central departments.

Digital Collections

Browse, explore and download images within our digital databases. Please note that these databases, although extensive, only represent a portion of the items within these collections.

  • Medieval Manuscripts

    Our manuscript collection includes most of the kinds of books used between 1000 and 1500 A.D.: prayer books and poetry, Bibles and political propaganda, philosophical works, and fantastic histories. Some manuscripts are elaborate and beautiful works of art; others are humble "owner-produced" books, copied out from a borrowed copy by someone who needed a particular text. Each one tells us something about a long-vanished age.

  • Hampton Carson Collection

    View images from books, pamphlets, and illustrations related to the trials of King Charles I, William Penn, Daniel O'Connell, and Queen Caroline, from the Hampton L. Carson Collection Illustrative of the Growth of Common Law.

  • Fraktur Collection

    Fraktur are colorful documents made by Pennsylvania Germans who lived in rural parts of southeastern Pennsylvania and the surrounding region during the 1700s and 1800s. Most fraktur are personal records, such as birth and baptismal certificates.

  • Charles Dickens Collection

    The Free Library's Rare Book Department is proud to be home to one of the largest collections of Charles Dickens's manuscripts, letters, illustrations, and other ephemera outside the United Kingdom. Search through a selection of these treasures from the life and works of Charles Dickens.

Finding Aids

A finding aid is a guide to an archival collection. The Rare Book Department has both online and paper based finding aids. Check back often as we continue to convert our in-house databases and make them digitally available using Encoded Archival Description and Archivists' Toolkit.

Digital Reproduction Requests

A high resolution, high quality image reproduction and a Use Agreement are required to reproduce for publication an image from within our collections. For questions about pricing and/or to submit a request, please contact (215) 686-5416.

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