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For Researchers

For Researchers

How can you find historical records?

Students, historians, genealogists and other researchers can search over 12,000 collections from over 200 regional libraries and archives through the Philadelphia Area Archives portal, which is generously hosted by the University of Pennsylvania.

Collections are described with documents called “finding aids” which describe the history of a collection and the arrangement of material. You can search finding aids by creator/author, topic, repository, and keyword.

Please note that these finding aids represent the work of staff from the repositories represented here over a long period of time. While there have been changes in standards and practice within the profession on archival description, users may come across harmful or offensive language about individuals and groups who created or are represented in historical records. Please see our Statement on Archival Description and Harmful Language for more information.

Click here to find all the member institutions within PACSCL.  Contact information is given for each member representative, who you can contact if you want to learn more about their collections.

Digital Libraries & Exhibits

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 member institutions have worked together to create collections of primary sources – a first-hand or contemporary account of an event or topic – that can be freely accessed for any educational purpose.

Each project presents sources in different ways.  You are welcome to explore, to learn, and to share!

This is an image of a cat with a rocket on its back from fol. 137r from University of Pennsylvania Rare Book & Manuscript Library Ms. Codex 109, Feuer Buech, by Helm, Franz, approximately 1500-1567 (Germany).

Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis

Bibliotheca Philadelphiensis is the online home for documentation and progress reports on PACSCL’s medieval manuscript digitization project. BiblioPhilly (our nickname for the project) includes freely accessible high-resolution images of more than 160,000 pages of European medieval and early modern codices.

Chronicling Resistance

Chronicling Resistance highlights stories of resistance in Philadelphia that reflected the communities and areas of activism documented by project Activist-Curator Fellows. Defining “resistance” on their own terms, they have challenged the systemic erasure of Black, Brown, and LGBTQ+ people from the historical record.

For the Health of the New Nation

For the Health of the New Nation: Philadelphia as the Center of American Medical Education, 1746-1868, provides free access to 140,000 pages of lecture tickets, course schedules, theses, dissertations, student notes, faculty lectures notes, commencement addresses, opening addresses, and matriculation records. These documents share not only the voices of the medical greats, but also the often unheard voices of students, providing the most comprehensive view of the history of medical education in Philadelphia.

In Her Own Right

In Her Own Right documents the strong tradition of women’s initiatives to expand their rights and opportunities with regard to political participation, education, work, property-holding, and cultural activities. The Philadelphia region’s documentary collections reflect that the campaign for women’s suffrage did not happen in a vacuum, but was the result of decades of women of all kinds moving out of the home and into the schools and workplaces of the nation.

This is an image of 9 from Drexel University Archives and Special Collections MC.00.056, Box 1, Folder 2, Rebecca Thomas Recipe Book, by Thomas, Rebecca (Burlington, N. J., 1800 - 1860).

PACSCL Diaries Project

The Diaries Project allows researchers an intimate view into a wide variety of personalities, largely from Philadelphia, as they went about their daily lives and commented on the world around them. Fifty-three diaries are included in this test project.

Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network

This site contains thousands of old maps, property atlases, city directories, industrial site surveys, and other items documenting the history and development of Philadelphia from the 1600s through today.

COVID-19 in Philadelphia

Beginning in 2020, a number of PACSCL member institutions began to gather content related to  institutional or regional responses to the pandemic.  Content was crawled from member websites until April 2023. The content is made available through the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine.