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Collections Overview

The Library Company has collected graphic materials throughout its long history. A separate Print & Photograph Department was formed in 1971 to manage, provide access, and more actively develop the Library Company’s graphics holdings. Specializing in works by Philadelphia photographers and printmakers, and images that document the city of Philadelphia, the collection visually records the histoy of the Philadelphia area from the late 17th to the mid 20th century. In addition to Philadelphia area materials, the graphics collections include historical and commemorative prints, portraits, and political cartoons documenting American history at the national level from the 18th through the early 20th century.

Click here to browse Print Department collections digitized in ImPAC.

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The Library Company's graphics collections are included in the on-line catalogs WolfPAC and ImPAC

The on-line catalog WolfPAC currently contains over 18,000 descriptive catalog records representing approximately 80,000 items or roughly 60% of our graphic holdings. Graphics records mounted on WolfPAC primarily describe materials cataloged under several special subject cataloging grants and include all of the Afro-Americana collections and a large percentage of our 19th-century and early 20th-century photography collections, as well as images related to the Civil War, Philadelphia business and industry, and regional philanthropic and educational institutions. The on-line catalog also includes records from our old graphics card catalog primarily describing 19th-century engravings, photographs, and maps of the Philadelphia area.
 These records can be accessed separately from the book collections by selecting "graphics" in "Collection to search" or by selecting "visual materials" as a format qualifier in "limit search to."

ImPAC, our digital collections catalog, contains over 75 digital collections, including over 27,000 images, which continue to increase. It features digital images from our core 19th- and early 20th-century photographic collections, including John Moran, James McClees, Robert Newell and Frederick De B. Richards; prints, photographs, and ephemera from and finding aids about the John A. McAllister Collection; over 1300 lithographs and related prints from the Philadelphia  on Stone project; and over 200 portraits of American women. In addition, ImPAC includes digital images of our art and artifacts collections, selections from our 18th- and 19th-century ephemera collections, 19th-century cloth book bindings and book cloth grains and on-line exhibitions of featured collections, including the early 1920s photographs of amateur Philadelphia photographers G. Mark Wilson and John Frank Keith documenting local neighborhoods and their residents.  Recent additions from the Print Department include the entire African Americana collection (excluding maps) and materials pertaining to World War One.

Collection Guides & Finding Aids

Local databases inventorying materials in the Print & Photograph Department collections not included in the catalogs can be accessed in the Print & Photograph Department reading room or by contacting the Print Department staff. These databases primarily provide item-level access to large 19th and early 20th-century photographic and ephemera collections. Collection descriptions, inventories and sample digital images of holdings described in local databases are increasingly available through WolfPAC and ImPAC. Publications heavily-illustrated with materials from the graphics collections that also provide access to the holdings, include Print & Photograph Department, Library Company of Philadelphia, Center City in the Nineteenth Century (Portsmouth, N.H.: Arcadia Publishing, 2006); Kenneth Finkel and Susan Oyama, Philadelphia Then and Now. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1988); and Kenneth Finkel, Nineteenth Century Photography in Philadelphia: 250 Historic Prints From The Library Company of Philadelphia. (New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1980).

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