On-Line Guides

The following represents on-line and enhanced versions of the published guides.

African American History

An annotated bibliography of sources on African American history in the Library of the APS.


An annotated bibliography of sources on anthropology and archeology in the Library of the APS.

Early American History

The Early American History Guide, made possible by a grant from The Pew Charitable Trusts, consists of 791 manuscript collections held at the American Philosophical Society (APS). Of these, 219 are microfilm collections, some of which are of particular interest to early American scholars, such as the Thistlewood Diaries. The remaining 572 entries consist of original manuscript collections housed at the APS. Each manuscript collection in the guide has a description written for it. A typical description has a general overview of the collection (which ranges from a few sentences to a couple of pages depending on the collection’s size and scope), the type of material found in the collection (correspondence, business records, diaries, etc.), and its general subject strengths (Business History, Science and Technology, etc.).

European Science & Technology

Bibliography of sources related to the history of science, technology, and medicine.


Guide to material related to the history and development of genetics, held in the APS Library.


This a catalogue of the rich and extensive collection of maps in the Library of the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. It contains information on some 1,750 printed maps, over 1,000 manuscript maps, 136 atlases, two globes, and one model.

Native American Materials

A detailed database of manuscript holdings pertaining to Native American and indigenous languages and cultures held at the American Philosophical Society. This guide covers manuscript collections that were acquired by the Library through 1979.

Natural History

An important research tool for several disciplines - including the history of science and medicine, literary studies, the history of culture and its social relations, anthropology, and Native American studies, as well as to historians of the Americas - this guide offers an annotated bibliography of the Library's imprints of North and South American natural history.

Naval History

While the American Philosophical Society Library is not a treasure trove of documents on naval history, neither is it void of relevant documents. Holdings in naval history reflect the institution's collecting policy focusing on United States History to 1840 and the history of science. With a few exceptions, the bulk of naval material focuses on the Revolutionary War Navy (as seen in Benjamin Franklin's correspondence with John Paul Jones and John Barry), the Navy's role in polar exploration (e.g. Elisha Kent Kane and the 1931 Nautilus Polar Expedition), and naval officers who were members of or had business with the Society (such as Samuel Francis DuPont and George Wallace Melville).

Physiology & Biochemistry

The Library of the American Philosophical Society houses manuscript sources documenting important aspects of the life sciences -- physiology, biochemistry, and biophysics. Over sixty collections at the Library deal directly with biological research in America in the twentieth century; with the exception of a handful of records of scientific societies and institutions, most of these collections are the personal papers of prominent researchers in various disciplines of the life sciences.

Quantum Physics

Material on the history of quantum physics and related developments in theoretical physics. Included are oral histories and microfilm available in depository libraries at Berkeley, Copenhagen, and Philadelphia.

Scientific Exploration

The sixty years' accumulation of personal letters, journals, and diaries, sketches of landscapes and antelopes, and lists of apparatus and supplies represented here bears witness to the transformation of science in America from the amateur gathering seashells in spare moments, to the professional; from the naturalist to the specialist; from small, local, and generally impoverished societies to national organizations; from modest state enterprises to great federal institutions of science. The transformation went a long way toward winning from a skeptical world, whose literate still could appreciate an Asa Gray as well as an Emerson, a certain esteem for the novel republic that produced them.