The History of The Library Company of Philadelphia

 

The Library Company of Philadelphia is America’s oldest cultural institution. It was founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin as a subscription library supported by its shareholders, as it is to this day. From the Revolution War to 1800, when the national government was in Philadelphia, it also served as the library of Congress. Until the 1850s it was the largest public library in America. The Library Company’s collections grew with the nation and reflect the country’s many faces and varied interests. All of the books the Library Company acquired year by year over more than two and a half centuries are still on its shelves, along with many others added since it was transformed into a research library in the 1950s. In the 21 st century, the Library Company serves as a resource for a variety of readers, from high school students to senior scholars, from novelists to film producers, and anyone else with an interest in our collections.

At the Instance of Benjamin Franklin: A Brief History of the Library Company of Philadelphia

 

The Library Company of Philadelphia, Revised and Enlarged 1995.

112 pp. Illustrated (color) [ISBN 0-914076-73-6]

A lively account of the history of America's oldest cultural institution illustrated in full color with more than one hundred of its most beautiful and important books, graphics, and works of art.

Complete Text in PDF:

http://www.librarycompany.org/about/instance.pdf

Order your copy today:

Visit the LCP Online Store

BookTV1999

C-SPAN BookTV: Library Company of Philadelphia Tour Feb 18, 1999

Visit the link below to view:

http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/Company

The eminent Franklin scholar J. A. Leo Lemay, the H. F. du Pont Winterthur Professor of English at the University of Delaware, published three volumes of his projected seven-volume biography, The Life of Benjamin Franklin, before his death in 2008. The second volume, titled Printer and Publisher, 1730-1747, includes a chapter on the Library Company that is the most comprehensive treatment of its founding by Franklin in 1731 and its subsequent history over the next several decades. Through the courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Press we have been able to place this chapter on our website.

Chapter in PDF: http://www.librarycompany.org/Lemay1.pdf

Notes in PDF: http://www.librarycompany.org/Lemay2.pdf

And you can order the volume from Penn Press by following this link: http://www.upenn.edu/pennpress/book/14188.html

“A Short Account of the Library,” in A Catalogue of Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: B. Franklin, 1741).

“A Short Account of the Library,” in A Catalogue of Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: B. Franklin, 1741). (PDF)

Historic Philadelphia

"Library Hall: Home of the Library Company of Philadelphia 1790-1180" by Charles E. Peterson, From: Historic Philadelphia from the Founding Until the Early Nineteenth Century: Papers Dealing with its People and Buildings with an Illustrative Map (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1953). (PDF)

Articles of Association

“Articles of Association,” in The Original Articles of Association of the Library Company of Philadelphia…. Together with the Charter, etc. etc. (Philadelphia: Collins, 1869). (PDF)

charter

“The Charter,” in The Original Articles of Association of the Library Company of Philadelphia…. Together with the Charter, etc. etc. (Philadelphia: Collins, 1869). (PDF)

Printed Catalogs

Library Company of Philadelphia. The Charter, Laws, and Catalogue of Books, of the Library Company of Philadelphia. With a Short Account of the Library Prefixed. Philadelphia: Printed by Joseph Crukshank, 1770.

Library Company of Philadelphia. The Charter, Laws, and Catalogue of Books, of the Library Company of Philadelphia. With a Short Account of the Library Prefixed. Philadelphia: Printed by Joseph Crukshank, 1770. (PDF)

A printed catalog of the Library Company’s collection, including artifacts and coins, along with a history of the Library Company, its charter, laws, rules, and members.

Library Company of Philadelphia. A Catalogue of the Books, Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: To Which Is Prefixed, a Short Account of the Institution, with the Charter, Laws, and Regulations. Philadelphia: Printed by Bartram & Reynolds, 1807.

Library Company of Philadelphia. A Catalogue of the Books, Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: To Which Is Prefixed, a Short Account of the Institution, with the Charter, Laws, and Regulations. Philadelphia: Printed by Bartram & Reynolds, 1807. (PDF)

A printed catalog of the Library Company’s collection with additions to the 1789 printed catalog, including the over 2,500 volume bequest of the Rev. Samuel Preston, and a list of coins and medals in the collection. Also included is a history of the Library Company, its charter, laws, rules, and members.

Library Company of Philadelphia. A Catalogue of the Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: To Which Is Prefixed, a Short Account of the Institution, with the Charter, Laws, and Regulations. Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Co., printers, 1835.

Library Company of Philadelphia. A Catalogue of the Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: To Which Is Prefixed, a Short Account of the Institution, with the Charter, Laws, and Regulations. Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Co., printers, 1835. (PDF)

A printed catalog of the Library Company’s collection with additions to the 1807 printed catalog. Also included is a history of the Library Company, its charter, laws, rules, and members. This 1835 edition is called vol. 1 & 2, with vol. 3 published in 1856.

Library Company of Philadelphia. Catalogue of the Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: vol. III: Containing Titles Added from 1835 to 1856, Together with an Alphabetical Index to the Whole. Philadelphia: Printed for the Co., 1856.

Library Company of Philadelphia. Catalogue of the Books Belonging to the Library Company of Philadelphia: vol. III: Containing Titles Added from 1835 to 1856, Together with an Alphabetical Index to the Whole. Philadelphia: Printed for the Co., 1856. (PDF)

The third volume of the printed catalog, of which vol. 1 & 2 was published in 1835, also includes an index to the complete set, as well as a list of portraits in oil in the collection.