Founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, the Library Company was the largest public library in America until the latter part of the 19th century, and it contains printed materials relating to every aspect of American culture and society in that period.
The Library Company now holds over half a million rare books and graphics, including the nation's second largest collection of pre-1801 American imprints and one of the largest collections of 18th-century British books in America. The collections reflect the whole range of early American print culture, including books, pamphlets, and magazines from all parts of the country, as well as books imported from Britain and the Continent. It is especially strong in printed materials relating to the history of women and African-Americans, popular literature, business and economics, popular medicine, philanthropy and reform, education, natural sciences, technology, art, architecture, German Americana, American Judaica, and the history of printing and publishing. The Library Company also holds strong collections of local newspapers and printed ephemera, and its print and photograph collection is rich in images of the Philadelphia region and graphics by local artists. A catalog of rare books and graphics is available through the website.
The Library Company’s Cassatt House fellows’ residence offers rooms at reasonable rates, along with a kitchen, common room, and offices with Internet access. Up to three fellowships of four to nine months each will be awarded, tenable from September 2015 to May 2016.