Library

Digital Facsimiles Notice

For information on Digital facsimiles of the Franz Boas Papers, please see this notice.


The American Philosophical Society Library is a major national center for research in the history of the sciences, medicine, and technology. With its roots extending back to the founding of the Society in 1743, it houses over 350,000 volumes and bound periodicals, thirteen million manuscripts, 250,000 images, and thousands of hours of audio tape.

Among the many extraordinary books in the collections of printed materials are first editions of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, a presentation copy of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, the elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of North America (for which the APS was an original subscriber), as well as a majority of Benjamin Franklin imprints and a significant portion of Franklin's personal library.

Manuscript collections range from eighteenth-century natural history, American Indian linguistics and culture, to nuclear physics, computer development, and medical science. The Library is among the premier institutions in the nation for documenting the history of genetics and eugenics, the study of natural history in the 18th and 19th centuries, quantum mechanics, and the development of cultural anthropology in America.

The Library is comprised of four departments: Printed Materials (housing books, periodicals, broadsides, and other printed works), Manuscripts (housing manuscript materials, photographs, and many works of art on paper), Conservation (responsible for the preservation and conservation of all library materials), and Technology (managing electronic access to collections, cyber-infrastructure, and digital preservation). Each of the departments contributes to putting up a regular rotation of exhibits based on the Library collection. Mounted in the entrance hall to the Library, exhibits are open to the public free of charge during regular operating hours.

Information on making gifts to Library collections.