University of Pennsylvania

Rare Book and Manuscript Library

3420 Walnut Street, sixth floor
(enter on Locust Walk)
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
215-898-7088 voice
215-573-9079 fax

Monday-Friday, 10am-5pm; Wednesday, 10am-8pm  during the fall, spring, and summer academic semesters. Consult website for list of closings.

  • William Noel, Director, Kislak Center for Special Collections and
    Founding Director of the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies, 215-898-7088,
  • David McKnight, Director, Rare Book and Manuscript Library and
    Curator, Schoenberg Center For Electronic Text and Image (SCETI), 215-746-5829,
  • Lynne Farrington, Curator of Printed Books, 215-746-5828,
  • Lauren Rile Smith, Printed Book Assistant, 215-898-7088,
  • Nancy M. Shawcross, Curator of Manuscripts, 215-898-2065,
  • Daniel H. Traister, Curator of Research Services (retired), 215-898-7089,
  • John Pollack, Public Services Specialist, 215-746-5825,
  • Elton-John Torres, Administrative & Reprographic Services Coordinator, 215-746-5826,
  • Andrea Gottschalk, Exhibition Designer & Coordinator, 215-746-5824,
  • Sibylla Benatova, Preservation Assistant/Conservation Technician, 215-746-5827,

With approximately 250,000 printed books and nearly ten million pieces of manuscript material, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library is a small part of the University's 5 million-volume library system. The Rare Book and Manuscript Library serves faculty and students across the Penn campus and around the world. Special strengths include American literature, drama, and history; English, Spanish, Italian, and German literature; the Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection in the history of chemistry; the Horace Howard Furness Memorial Library devoted to Shakespeare and his contemporaries; and the Henry Charles Lea Library with strengths in Church history, the Inquisition, magic, and witchcraft.

Manuscript collections include materials from the 12th through 20th centuries, with notable archives of the works of such moderns as Theodore Dreiser, James T. Farrell, Lewis Mumford, and Marian Anderson. Highly specialized collections include the works of Jonathan Swift, Aristotle editions and commentaries, both printed and manuscript, up to 1700; the Curtis Collection of Benjamin Franklin's printing; and the output of the Dutch firm of Elzevir from the 16th through the 18th centuries.

In addition to the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, there are important special collections in other Penn libraries. The Center for Advanced Judaic Studies holds thousands of volumes of rare manuscript and printed judaica; the Fine Arts Library contains a large and important collection of books on architecture; and the University Museum Library has notable strengths in rare materials relating to the history of anthropology. The School of Nursing maintains an extensive nursing archive, and the University Archives document the history of the University going back to the mid-eighteenth century.