Carroll, Grisdale & Van Allen Architects. Second Floor Plan & Finish Schedule, May 18, 1964.

Carroll, Grisdale & Van Allen Architects. Second Floor Plan & Finish Schedule, May 18, 1964.

A dedicated Print Room appears in the architectural plans for our new building at 1314 Locust Street into which we moved in 1966, but it was another five years before a staff position was created to oversee the collection.

“With the appointment of Stefanie A. Munsing as Curator of Prints and Drawings the Library Company became professional in an area which has been somewhat neglected,” wrote Librarian Edwin Wolf 2nd in the Library Company’s annual report of 1971. “A vast task faces her of reorganizing and cataloguing—actually removing from old scrapbooks where they have lain unknown and unknowable—that part of our graphic arts collection which has been bypassed. We are hopeful that under her care our "flatware" will emerge systematically into boxes and cases where they can be used with ease." And, thus, the Print Department was born.

Under the guidance of Ms. Munsing, the Print Department asserted itself as a significant research destination for scholars. The collection grew as graphics were removed from scrapbooks compiled by antiquarian members Charles A. Poulson and John A. McAllister, cataloged, and made accessible to researchers, and as appropriate new graphics were acquired.

Collaborating with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Print Department produced its first exhibition in the spring of 1973, Made in America: Printmaking 1760-1860 highlighting significant graphics in the two institutions’ holdings. According to Edwin Wolf, the exhibition and accompanying catalog informed “many who did not know that the two side-by side institutions possess collections of American prints which should be reckoned with by any working in the field.

Catalog for Made in America: An Exhibition of Original Prints from the Collections of the Library Company of Philadelphia and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, April - June, 1973. James Streeter and Henry Dawkins. A South-East Prospect of the Pennsylvania Hospital with the Elevation of the Intended Plan. Engraving with applied color after Montgomery and Winter. Philadelphia: Printed and sold by Robert. Kennedy, 1761. A Peep into the Antifederal Club. Etching. New York, 1793. Gift of John A. McAllister, Jr. Alexander Lawson. A Merchants Counting House. Engraving. Philadelphia: T. Dobson, ca. 1795-1805. Hugh Bridport. Camp-Meeting. Lithograph after A. Rider. Philadelphia: Kennedy & Lucas? Lithography, ca. 1830. John Jesse Barker. Horizontorium. Lithograph after William Mason. Philadelphia: R. H. Hobson, 1832. John Sartain. Cinque: The Chief of the Amistad Captives. Mezzotint. Philadelphia, ca. 1841. Gift of John A. McAllister. W. H. Rease. Finn & Burton?s Paper Hangings Warehouse No. 142, Arch St. Phila. Lithograph. Philadelphia: Frederick Kuhl, 1849. Benjamin F. Smith, Jr. and John W. Hill. Philadelphia from Girard College - 1850. Lithograph. New York, Francis Smith, 1850. Max Rosenthal. Grand Lodge Room of the New Masonic Hall, Chestnut Street, Philadelphia. Chromolithograph. Philadelphia: Louis N. Rosenthal, 1855.
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While the first exhibition focused exclusively on prints, other areas of the collection were not being ignored. In 1975 Library Company members were asked to support the purchase of 152 mid- to late-19th-century watercolors of Philadelphia scenes by Benjamin Evans. Pledges and gifts poured in allowing the purchase of the watercolors, an accomplishment deemed by Librarian Wolf “the high spot of the year.” More than two decades later, the Evans collection was one of the first Library Company collections selected for digitization by Bryn Mawr professor Jeffrey Cohen for his website Places in Time: Historical Documentation of Place in Greater Philadelphia.

Benjamin Evans. Northwest Corner of 7th and  Chestnut. Watercolor. Philadelphia, 1882.

Stephanie Munsing accepted a position at the Library of Congress in 1975 and was succeeded by Bernard Reilly, who in turn left for the Library of Congress in 1977. Under Mr. Reilly’s guidance, the Print Department began cataloging its significant early photographic collections with funds from the National Endowment for the Arts.  Mr. Reilly’s successor Kenneth Finkel, who had been initially hired as a part time cataloger for this project, completed it with the 1980 book and exhibition Nineteenth-Century Photography in Philadelphia.  


Cover of Kenneth Finkel. Nineteenth-Century Photography in Philadelphia.New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1980.  [Thomas Sully in Studio]. Albumen stereograph, ca. 1863. Gift of John A. McAllister. Coonley and Wolfersberger. [Children with Tent]. Albumen print. Philadelphia, ca. 1862.  John Moran. [Female Students Making a Flag in the Northwest Gallery of the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts during the Civil War]. Phila., 1862. William Rau. [Liberty]. Autochrome. Philadelphia, ca. 1910.  Richards & Betts. Loxley House. Salted paper print. Philadelphia, 1854. Gift of Charles A. Poulson.  James Cremer. Fairmount Waterworks. Albumen print in Views of Fairmount Park album. Philadelphia, 1876. [North Side of Market Street, West of 5th Street]. Albumen print. Philadelphia, 1868.  John C. Browne. [Waterwheel]. Platinum print. Philadelphia, ca. 1882. Richards & Betts. Ruins of Museum Building, Ninth below Chestnut Street. Salted paper print. Philadelphia, 1854. Gift of Charles A. Poulson. William Rau. [Court of Honor, Peace Jubilee, [Broad and Sansom Streets]. Gelatin silver print. Philadelphia, 1898. Gift of Mr. & Mrs. Maro S. Hunting. John Moran. Pennsylvania Bank. Albumen print. Philadelphia, 1867. James Cremer. Fairmount Park, Philadelphia. Albumen print in Views of Fairmount Park album. Philadelphia, 1876.
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The first decade of the Library Company’s Print Department came to a close with the celebration of our 250th anniversary. Our institutional quarter of a millennium was honored with an exhibition and major catalog highlighting significant acquisitions to both our book and graphic collections throughout our long history.


 John Singleton Copley. [The Deplorable State of America]. Etching. Boston, 1765. John J. Audubon. Rallus Crepitans. Marsh Hens. Lithograph. Philadelphia: Childs & Inman, 1832. William Birch. [Second Street North from Market Street with Christ Church, Philadelphia]. Wash drawing. Philadelphia, ca. 1798. Gift of Charles A. Poulson.  Thomas U. Walter. [Plan of Entrance to Laurel Hill Cemetery with Front Elevation of Entrance]. Watercolor with pencil and ink. Philadelphia, 1836. Atlantic Petroleum Storage Company for Refined Oil, Empire Stores for Crude Oil. Chromolithograph. Philadelphia: E. Herline, 1866. W. & F. Langenheim. North-east corner of Third & Dock Street. Girard Bank, at the time the latter was occupied by the military during the riots May 9, 1844. Oversize half-plate daguerreotype. Philadelphia, 1844. Gift of John A. McAllister. James Smither. Ticket for the Meschianza. Engraving. Philadelphia, 1778. Gift of Mrs. John Merideth Read.
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