With generous support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, the William Penn Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Council on Library and Information Resources, the Delmas Foundation, and other foundations and corporations, PACSCL has demonstrated its commitment to the importance of rare book, manuscript, and archival collections and to their role in scholarship and in public life.

COVID-19 Web Archiving Project

PACSCL has partnered with Archive-It to develop a public, archived collection of web content relating to COVID-19’s impact on the Philadelphia region. This project will be active from May 2020 through at least April 2021. Archived web pages can be viewed at:, and will remain accessible after the end of the project.

University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Ms. Coll. 225, item 14. No copyright. Manuscript notebook kept by Robert Maxwell, a student at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. This particular volume contains Maxwell’s notes on lectures delivered by Benjamin Rush during 1807 and 1808. The front of the volume, pictured here, contains a sketch by Maxwell depicting Rush’s views on the nature of fever.

For the Health of the New Nation

A project to digitize 140,000 pages of lecture tickets, faculty and student course notes, schedules, theses, and related material, from 1746-1868, when Philadelphia was the acknowledged center of American medical education. The materials are drawn from seven member institutions. The project is helmed by the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and Jefferson Hospital; materials are being uploaded to the Internet Archive. (Funded by the Council on Library and Information Resources.)

Chronicling Resistance, Enabling Resistance

A project to engage new communities in building awareness of the resistance narratives in PACSCL member collections embracing more than three centuries of religious, political, scientific, and human rights resistance and in identifying, collecting, preserving, and sharing stories of current and future resistance (funded by the Pew Center for Arts & Heritage, ongoing)

Dr. Hannah Longshore, one of the first women to graduate from the Female (Women’s) Medical College of Pennsylvania, in 1852. Drexel University Legacy Center.

In Her Own Right

Women Asserting their Civil Rights, 1820-1920: a project to identify material documenting the early struggle for women’s rights in the collections of members of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) and to share a sampling of them online (HCRR Foundations grant, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, ongoing)

Image: Dr. Hannah Longshore, one of the first women to graduate from the Female (Women’s) Medical College of Pennsylvania, in 1852. Drexel University Legacy Center.

Free Library of Philadelphia Lewis Ms 185, The Lewis Psalter, fols. 2v-3r

Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis

A project to digitize all Western European medieval and early modern manuscripts in PACSCL member collections and to place the images in the public domain (funded by the Council for Library and Information Resources, ongoing)

Past accomplishments include:

  • a “hidden collections” manuscript processing project involving 140 collections from 24 member libraries, and the creation of a unified database of electronic finding aids (2009-2012 and a successor project, 2013-2014, funded by a grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources,);
  • a consortial survey initiative to assess and provide information on approximately 35,000 linear feet of manuscripts and archival material in member collections (2006-2008);
  • geohistory initiative that allows users to explore the Greater Philadelphia area through time and place by entering a street address or other information, based on the City of Philadelphia’s landmark Geographic Information System (2005; now sustained and extended by PACSCL member the Athenaeum of Philadelphia);
  • the Leaves of Gold medieval manuscript exhibition, catalog, website, CD-ROM, and children’s programming (2001-02)
  • a Finding Aids Project including EAD training, digitization of existing finding aids, and establishment of a unified search interface (1998-ongoing);
  • the creation of a Collaborative Online Public Access Catalog for those member libraries without individual OPACs (1997-ongoing);
  • its Initiative for the 1990s I and II cataloging and access projects (1991-96);
  • the PACSCL Name Authority Project (1991-94);
  • a Museum Loan Program for auction and booksellers catalogs (1990-93);
  • its Legacies of Genius exhibition and catalogue (1988).

PACSCL also has shared its skills and expertise with the broader profession of librarians and archivists through a series of workshops and seminars on a variety of cataloging issues ranging from the description of nineteenth-century imprints to the intellectual control of ephemera. Recent conference have explored the topics of library collaboration (2003), geographic information systems (2005), library/museum collaboration (2006),  deaccessioning (2007), and new approaches to surveying special collections (2008). PACSCL also took the lead in local arrangements for the 2010 preconference of the Rare Book & Manuscripts Section of the American Library Association, “Join or Die: Collaboration in Special Collections.”