Portrait of Theodore Dreiser, 1900.

American Studies, History, and Literature: Modern Period

Beginning in 1945 with the acquisition of the Theodore Dreiser Papers, the Penn Libraries has maintained collecting strengths in modern American manuscripts. Recent acquisitions including the Gotham Book Mart Collection, have added depth and breadth. This page provides an overview of major collections of interest to students and scholars in American studies.

Original artwork by Ashley Bryan displayed on a table

Ashley Bryan Archive

Renowned artist, writer, storyteller, children's book creator, and humanitarian Ashley Bryan created thousands of drawings, paintings, collages, and linoleum block prints over the course of his long and productive life. His archive, containing hundreds of original works documenting his career, was donated to the University of Pennsylvania Libraries in 2019.

Eadweard Muybridge Collections

The Kislak Center holds a group of materials related to the photographic experiments and motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904), and in particular connected with his work for Animal Locomotion, done at the University of Pennsylvania (1883-1887).

Vintage photograph of Edgar Fahs Smith in his office in Harrison Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania.

Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection

The Edgar Fahs Smith Memorial Collection is devoted to the history of chemistry and collects broadly in that field, emphasizing periods prior to 1900. The collection includes early and modern works on chemistry, alchemy, early medicine and pharmacology, dyeing, metallurgy, mineralogy, and pyrotechnics; biographies of chemists; works on the chemical industry; and the history of chemical education.

Eugene Ormandy, ca 1950

Eugene Ormandy Collection

This collection documents the extraordinary 64-year music career of Eugene Ormandy (1899-1985), best known for his long tenure with the Philadelphia Orchestra. Materials are available to researchers through the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Original Gotham Book Mart sign that declares "Wise Men Fish Here"

Gotham Book Mart Collection

The Gotham Book Mart was a vital bookstore in the New York literary scene from its creation in 1920 to its closing in 2006. In 2008, after the closure of the bookstore, the Penn Libraries received the remaining stock of books, along with papers and other items from this landmark institution.

Dramatic view of Jerusalem looking toward the Mosque of Omar / Temple Mount.

Holy Land Collections

Penn's libraries are home to a wide range of special and general collections related to the Holy Land.

Covers of Kaigun magazine.

Japanese Naval Collection

The Naval Collection focuses on the Meiji through early Shōwa periods, and is especially strong in materials related to the training fleet (renshū kantai 練習艦隊).