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.
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.
Significant examples of Benjamin Franklin's work as a Philadelphia printer are preserved in the Curtis Collection, donated by the Curtis Publishing Company in 1920 and containing more than 300 titles printed by Franklin and his associates between 1719 and 1786.
The Francis Hopkinson Collection includes Hopkinson's personal collection of music, along with manuscript music and transcriptions. Complementing these are other printed and manuscript materials by or relating to Hopkinson. These materials provides important sources for the study of early American music, the early history of Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania, and colonial and early federal American culture.