The Manuscripts Department of the APS houses hundreds of collections of personal papers and archival materials, including the papers of Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Charles Willson Peale, and Franz Boas. The collections range from the mid-18th century to the present, with an emphasis on documenting anthropology and its subfields (ethnology, biological anthropology, linguistics, and archaeology), the mathematical and physical sciences, the earth sciences, and the life sciences (evolutionary theory, genetics, eugenics, biochemistry, molecular biology, paleontology). Many of the collections also contain a large number of striking graphics materials.
Research in the Collections
General information about the manuscript collections at the APS is available through the major national bibliographic compilations, including NUCMC and NIDS, through OCLC's WorldCat database, and through many published bibliographies. The Library has also consistently supported and contributed to projects to publish the papers of people represented in its collections, including Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Charles Darwin.
The current and most comprehensive guide to the APS manuscript collections is Mole: The Manuscripts Online Guide, which includes fully searchable descriptions of every APS manuscript collection, listed alphabetically with links to EAD encoded finding aids.
A growing number of digital objects are available. Much of this content consists of digitized materials from manuscripts collections. Please visit the Digital Collections for a complete listing.
Various authors have created detailed subject guides to collections at the APS. Please use the menu to the left to view these guides.
Inquiries and reference assistance
Members of the Manuscript Department are happy to assist with inquiries pertaining to its collections, research at the Library, policies for use and reproduction of manuscript materials, or pertaining to the Society and areas of research interest. Inquiries may be sent by using our reference query form, by e-mail, or surface mail.
Manuscripts Department Reference
American Philosophical Society Library
105 South Fifth Street
Philadelphia, PA 19106-3386
Support for Research
Each year the APS offers a number of competitive fellowships and grants to assist scholarly research. The Library Resident Research Fellowship program provides funds in support of short term (one to three month) research in the APS Library collections. The Phillips Fund for North Native American Research provides grants for research in Native American linguistics and ethnohistory. Materials deposited in the Library's collections as a result of Phillips Fund grants are a significant resource for historians, anthropologists, and linguists. Further details on requirements, eligibility, and deadlines may be found on the APS Fellowships & Research Grants Program pages.