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History Collections at Penn

Penn's history collections provide extensive coverage of a wide range of topics, eras, and regions. The largest continuous collection of history-related books are on the fifth floor of Van Pelt Library (call number range C-F), but an enormous number of texts are spread throughout Van Pelt. Works about topics such as legal (K), political (J), military (U-V) and women's (HQ) history are frequently classed outside of the primary history call number range. The Library of Congress Classification Outline may be of use in identifying call number ranges of interest. Several collections that support history research are located in the Van Pelt-Dietrich Building but have separate locations. These collections include:
Several other libraries hold works of relevance to history research. These libraries include:
Van Pelt and several other libraries have reached capacity, and consequently an ever-increasing part of the Penn Library collections is at LIBRA, an off-campus storage facility. Thus, browsing the stacks conveys only a partial impression of holdings. Browsing Franklin by subject or call number is a more accurate gauge of what is available.
As with Penn's general history collections, Penn's primary source research collections are spread throughout the Library system. Many are in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library. An overview of their collections is available. Among the outstanding collections at Penn are:
Historical source collections are increasingly being provided in digitized format. Presently we provide online access to a large number of textual databases, including Early English Books Online, Evans Digital Collection, Eighteenth Century Collections Online, U.S. Serial Set, American Periodical Series Online, Artfl for French historical texts, Early American Newspapers and Accessible Archives for historic U. S. newspapers, and an electronic version of Harper's Weekly. We also provide electronic access to core bibliographic files such as Historical Abstracts and America: History & Life. Some of these collections provide nearly comprehensive coverage of their chosen genre. For instance, we now have nearly every known book published in America and England before 1800 available online.
A number of important special collections are located in the Philadelphia region. Among these collections are world class collections of primary resources about Philadelphia, Early American History, Quaker History, and African-American History. Other highly significant collections related to religious organizations, the history of science and medicine, and other subjects are also located in the Philadelphia region. Aside from special collections, other libraries in Philadelphia complement Penn's collections. For instance, Drexel's collection of women's magazines is more extensive than Penn's, and the Philadelphia Free Library holds some government documents and newspapers that are not available at Penn.