Gloria Goddard, Four Seek Love, 1949, dust jacket

Banned Books Collection

The Banned Books Collection includes 210 titles printed in the United States in the 1940s and 1950s that were banned from sale and condemned by authorities for their sexual content. All are in their original dust jackets. A number of American presses, notably the Jack Woodford Press, are represented. The collection provides a useful window into U.S. underground publishing and book marketing in the mid-twentieth century.

Benjamin Rush portrait

Benjamin Rush Collections

A pioneering, controversial doctor, chemist, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Rush (1746-1813) spent much of his career as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

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Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American Wilderness

The Caroline F. Schimmel Fiction Collection of Women in the American Wilderness comprises over 6,000 works of fiction by women writers, including novels, short stories, poetry, works by Native American authors, travel writings, narratives of polar expeditions, captivity narratives, and works for children. The Collection was donated in 2014 to the Penn Libraries by Penn alumna Caroline Schimmel (CW’67) and has been augmented by subsequent gifts.

Joanna Banks in her library, 2018

Joanna Banks Collection of African American Books

The Joanna Banks Collection of African American literature includes over 10,000 published works, primarily from the 1970s to the present. Particular strengths include women's writing, children's literature, cookery, and African American periodicals. The Banks Collection was donated to the Penn Libraries in 2018.


Penn has a large and visible LGBT community, and the Van Pelt Video Collection reflects its broad interests in its acquisitions, which include documentaries as well as popular, mainstream, art house and independently released LGBT-themed films.

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Sexual Minorities

The library has strong collections about sexual minorities. This includes material from many different disciplines and covers various populations in the LGBTQ+ communities. There are also great resources in multi-media formats. The collection is diverse in language and time period. An effort is made to cover topics in queer studies especially in history and literature. Educational material deals with bullying is another example of a special topic of interest. The definition of sexual minorities is fluid and may be thought of as having an "open canon" meaning that there are identities yet to be explored so it is very important to attend to the evolution of the publishing and media worlds.

Portrait of Theodore Dreiser, 1900.

Theodore Dreiser Collection

Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) was an American writer and journalist. He was the leading American proponent of naturalism, which attempted to illustrate and analyze social conditions through literature. He was well known for his left-wing political positions, as well as for his non-traditional romantic and social relationships. He frequently fought against censorship in his attempt to portray aspects of political and sexual life which were considered controversial.