Monday, 13 February 2012

Library Company of Philadelphia

The Library Company of Philadelphia is "an independent research library concentrating on American history and culture from the 17th through the 19th centuries." Founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin, it lists its strengths as : Afro-Americana; American science, technology, economics, architecture, agriculture, natural history, education, philanthropy, and medicine; German-Americana; the history of printing and publishing; American Judaica; the history of women, domestic economy, and family life; printmaking, mapmaking, and photography in Philadelphia; and the libraries of James Logan and Benjamin Franklin.

Collections can be searched through WolfPAC and the LCP is building up its digital surrogates and online exhibitions, available through ImPAC.

I was delighted to find under Medicine an informative and illustrated description of the William H. Helfand collection of proprietary medicine pamphlets which includes many advertisements and other ephemera. On the site too is an online version of the exhibition held in 1998 by the LCP: Every man his own doctor.

(C) Library Company of Philadelphia

Other ephemeral treasures of the Library Company of Philadelphia include 5,462 ballads in the American Song Sheets, Slip Ballads and Poetical Broadsides Collection, 1850-1870, all catalogued online, with images available through clicking on subjects from a list below the introductory text.

There is also the Rose and Leon Doret Collection of Business Ephemera. The section of the collection digitised on ImPAC consists of advertisements and publicity material sent to the Philadelphia firm John C. Clark from 1866-1868 -  a fascinating snapshot.

Many more ephemera are contained in Philadelphia on Stone, a collection of lithographically printed material which is accompanied by a webpage, online exhibition, digital catalogue (with 8 collaborating institutions), a biographical dictionary of lithographers, and a link to a demonstration of lithography on You Tube by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

What brought me to the site originally was the  John A. McAllister Civil War Collection, which can be browsed on ImPAC together with a recent online exhibition. Mr McAllister's collection on ImPAC includes Comic Valentines, digitised and catalogued, which anticipates my blog for Valentine's Day on The John Johnson Collection: Now and Then (WordPress).

There is much to explore at the Library Company of Philadelphia. And I have not even touched on the prints and photographs!

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