History collection development policy

Main content

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 the appropriate collection policy statements.(Collections for the history of ancient Greece and Rome are covered by Classical Studies; Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Latin America, Russia and Eastern Europe, East Asia, South Asia and the Middle East are described in policy statements for those areas.)

Program information

The library's 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. 

Guidelines for Collection Development

1. Chronological

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

2. Formats

Print, electronic, microform, video. Monogaphs 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 Library acquires publications in English and in the languages of the areas studied.

5. Publication dates

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

Principal sources of supply and major selection tools

Approval plans with major American and European dealers, standing orders, and faculty requests account for many new additions to the collection. The Library makes every effort to acquire appropriate information wherever published, and in whatever format.

Subjects excluded

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 purchase 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.

Cooperative arrangements

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.

Related subject collections