Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania inspires people to create a better future through historical understanding. One of the oldest historical societies in the United States, it is home to some 600,000 printed items and more than 21 million manuscript and graphic items. Its unparalleled collections encompass more than 350 years of America’s history—from its 17th-century origins to the contributions of its most recent immigrants. The society’s remarkable holdings together with its educational programming make it one of the nation’s most important special collections libraries: a center of historical documentation and study, education, and engagement.
The society is one of the largest family history libraries in the nation, has preeminent printed collections on Pennsylvania and regional history, and offers superb manuscript collections renowned for their strength in 17th-, 18th-, and 19th-century history. With the addition of the holdings of The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2002 (and those of The Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania in 2006 through a Strategic Alliance Agreement), the Society has become a chief center for the documentation and study of the ethnic communities and immigrant experiences shared by people whose American history began more recently-between the late 19th century and our own times. In 2009 HSP formally transferred ownership of its museum collection to the Atwater Kent Museum of Philadelphia.
The Society's building at 1300 Locust Street was designed by Addison Hutton and is listed on the City of Philadelphia's Register of Historical Places.
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s (HSP) Digital Services department collects, manages, preserves, and increases access to HSP’s born-digital and digitized collections. These acts support HSP’s mission, through collaboration within the organization’s departments and with outside institutions. Digital Services provides access to collections through the Digital Library, a public-facing platform for our digital collections repository, and through created databases, such as Encounters, which allows users to access large amounts of historical and genealogical data in one place.
The collection materials made available in the Digital Library have been determined, to best of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s knowledge, to be of minimal copyright risk, and may be used for educational or research purposes under the Fair Use doctrine. Please note, however, that possession of a digital reproduction of HSP’s collection materials does not constitute permission to publish or exhibit the image, unless the usage falls under Fair Use doctrine. Usage rights fees may apply to reproduced material; please contact Rights and Reproduction for any question regarding the publication or exhibition of an image for commercial or non-profit use.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding the intellectual rights of an image or record in the Digital Library, please contact Rights and Reproductions.