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This statement addresses the history of the United States (post-1492), Western Europe (aside from the Iberian Peninsula), Canada, and Oceania. Other areas of the world are covered in other collection policy statements. 


Accordion List

The Penn Libraries' history collections support research and instruction in the History Department as well as the larger graduate group and a wide range of other academic disciplines that rely on historical documentation and scholarship. 

The Department's strengths have traditionally been in medieval history and in European and American political, intellectual, and social history. More recently, the Department has developed strong and active programs in African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and transnational history as well as in cultural, ethnic, and gender history.  

1. Chronological 

Europe: Post-medieval period to the present day. 
North America: European contact to the present day. 

2. Formats 

Print, electronic, microform, video. Monographs are generally print preferred.  Periodicals are e-preferred. Videos are purchased as DVDs or video files with perpetual streaming rights when available and affordable. However, content will be purchased in any format as conditions require. 

3. Geographical 

Western Europe, United States, Canada, Oceania. 

4. Language 

Typically the Libraries acquires publications in English and in the languages of the areas studied, especially European languages. 

5. Publication dates 

Emphasis on current materials. Some retrospective purchasing, especially the replacement of missing and damaged books. Primary sources from any period. 

6. Method of publication  

Products that lead to open access publication receive priority. Proprietary resources receive greater consideration if they support a competitive market with freely accessible resources or using alternative funding mechanisms. Penn has a history of supporting large open access digitization projects such as those of Reveal Digital/Ithaka and Global Press Archives. 

In addition to the Libraries' major approval plan (GOBI) for both university and trade publications in the U.S., there are smaller approval plans for German (Harrassowitz), French (Amalivre), and Italian (Casalini) language material. These are supplemented by slip plans from the same vendors. Journals are scanned for book reviews, publication announcements, and "books received" lists. European approval plans identify topics of interest, such as racial and religious minorities, for higher levels of collecting. 

We purchase videos (DSL and DVD) directly from distributors or through platforms such as Docuseek. 

The Libraries makes every effort to acquire appropriate information wherever published, and in whatever format.  

Various aspects of History are handled by other funds.  Area studies funds purchase material about Africa, East and South Asia, Latin America, Jewish Studies, the Middle East, Spain, and the bulk of material relating to Slavic speaking countries. Medieval and classical history are purchase by the respective funds. The history of the African diaspora is purchased by the Africana fund. The history of pre-European-contact North America is purchased by Anthropology. In addition, archaeological, anthropological, and/or ethnographic treatments of historical subjects are purchased by Anthropology. 

Proximity to the extraordinary historical collections of the libraries and archives of Philadelphia and other metropolitan centers in the northeast gives scholars access to an enormous body of material, both published and in manuscript. Locally, these include most notably the collections of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Library Company, and the American Philosophical Society Library. The collections of the Temple Urban Archives, the College of Physicians, and the Presbyterian Historical Library are also valuable resources for Penn's historians. 

The Libraries' membership with the Center for Research Libraries makes the enormous collection of primary source material there readily available through Interlibrary loan.