Early American collections in the Kislak Center include both manuscripts and printed materials, with notable strengths including literature; travel and exploration narratives; Judaica; and music.
The Kaplan Collection documents commercial, social, religious, political, and cultural ties that connected Jews and the general public from the colonial era through the nineteenth century.
At the University of Pennsylvania, holdings relating to art and architecture may be found in the Anne and Jerome Fisher Fine Arts Library; the Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania; the University Archives and Records Center; and in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.
The core of the Penn Libraries’ outstanding linguistics collection is the library of August Friedrich Pott (1802-1887), professor of general and comparative linguistics at the University of Halle and first librarian of the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft.
This collection of approximately 18,000 items includes books and periodicals on German literature, linguistics, philology, folklore, and related disciplines. Materials date from the fifteenth through the nineteenth centuries. The Bechstein Library was acquired by the University of Pennsylvania in 1896.
The Benjamin Franklin Papers (over 800 items) include correspondence and documents, 1705-1788, primarily relating to Franklin's stay in France during the American Revolution and his role in the negotiations between France and the Continental Congress. Some earlier documents and printed materials are also part of the collection.
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.
The Berendt-Brinton Linguistic Collection is an important repository of Indigenous language materials and other documents, primarily from colonial-era Central America.
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.