APS buildings are open only to necessary staff. Work continues remotely. Virtual programs are ongoing. Read more about the APS's COVID response.

David Center for the American Revolution

The David Center for the American Revolution promotes and encourages understanding of the American Revolution as widely as possible.

The David Center for the American Revolution, a collaboration between the David Library of the American Revolution (DLAR) and the APS, is dedicated to supporting scholarship on the American Revolution. The DLAR's Founder, Sol Feinstone, believed that the examination of the Founding Fathers' values and the events of the Revolutionary Period is essential to creating an informed citizenry able to comprehend and adapt those founding principles to the ever evolving circumstances of American society. The Center champions the active engagement of scholars, educators, and the general public of all ages in a continuing and dynamic encounter with this most central episode in the creation of the American nation. 

Frequently Asked Questions

General

Q. What is the David Center for the American Revolution?

A. The David Center for the American Revolution promotes innovative uses of the David Library’s collections for the study of the American Revolution. It was founded in 1959 by philanthropist Sol Feinstone, operated at Buckstone Farm at Washington’s Crossing, PA (the former home of Sol Feinstone), from 1974-2019, and moved to the American Philosophical Society in 2020. It is open to the public five days a week.

Q: Why is it called the David Center for the American Revolution?

A: Sol Feinstone named the original David Library in honor of his grandson, David Golub, who was born developmentally disabled. In establishing the David Center for the American Revolution, the American Philosophical Society reaffirms Feinstone’s commitment to the study of the revolutionary and founding era.

Q: Who are typical patrons of David Center resources at the American Philosophical Society Library? Is it only for scholars and academics?

A: The American Philosophical Society Library welcomes people interested in the study of the American Revolution from every background and level of academic accomplishment. Patrons include historians (both professional and amateur), doctoral candidates working on dissertations, college students, high school students, individuals researching their family histories, and anyone interested in the era of the American Revolution. No one should ever feel they are too inexperienced to make good use of David Center resources at the American Philosophical Society Library.

Q: Is the American Philosophical Society Library a lending library?

A: No. The American Philosophical Society Library is a “non-circulating” library. Patrons must use Library resources onsite.

Q: Where is the American Philosophical Society Library located?

A. The APS Library is located at 105 South 5th Street, Philadelphia 19106. It is across the street from Independence Hall. You can find a map here.

Q. Do I need an appointment to research at the American Philosophical Society?

A. You do not need an appointment to come to the APS, but if we know you are coming we can have materials ready for you. Information on how to register as a researcher at the APS Reading Room is available here. Please also take advantage of our Ask a Librarian feature to receive remote services.

Q. When will the David Center collections be accessible at the American Philosophical Society?

A. The collections are being packed up and moved in 2020. They will be made accessible at the American Philosophical Society as soon as possible. The Sol Feinstone manuscript collection is already accessible. The extensive microfilm collections are expected to be made available first, followed by the printed books and pamphlets.

Local Patrons

Q. Can I make copies of material from the David Collection?

A. The American Philosophical Society allows users to make copies with handheld cameras. Scans can be made from microfilm and saved to a thumbdrive. Copy services are available for researchers working remotely. More information is available here.

Q. Is there parking available?

A. There are several parking garages within an easy walking distance to the APS Library & Museum. The Bourse Garage is the closest facility, at 4th and Ranstead Streets. Additionally, there are garages at the Independence Visitor Center and the National Constitution Center.

Q. Are there lockers available?

A. Secure lockers are available for storing bags, computer cases, coats, and other items not permitted in the reading room.

Public Program Attendees

Q. Will you still be sponsoring public programs?

A. The David Center will continue the rich tradition of hosting free lectures, conferences, and workshops that illuminate the story of America in the founding era. To see our upcoming events, click here to go to Events or scroll to the bottom of this page. In time, the David Center hopes to present public programs in Bucks County, the community that nurtured the David Library of the American Revolution for over 40 years.

Q. Do I need to register for public programs?

A. The David Center appreciates knowing that you are coming, but an RSVP is not required.

Q. Where are public programs held?

A. The American Philosophical Society most often holds public programs in Franklin Hall, 427 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Occasionally programs are held around the corner at Philosophical Hall, 104 South 5th Street, Philadelphia.

Family Historians

Q. Does the David Center have collections for family history?

A. Yes. The David Center holds one of the most comprehensive collections of primary materials related to the American Revolution on microfilm. Many of these collections are rich in material related to individuals, such as muster rolls, pension records, and town histories.

Q. Is there anyone at the American Philosophical Society that can help me with my research?

A. Library staff are happy to assist with any inquiry pertaining to our specialized collections. Please write to reference@amphilsoc.org to ask a question or set up an appointment.

Q. Are there other resources for researching family history near the APS?

A. There are multiple important collections near the American Philosophical Society. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the most complete and professional genealogy centers in the nation—and the largest in the Mid-Atlantic region. More information available here.

Professional Scholars / Prospective Fellows

Q. Does the David Center offer fellowships?

A. Yes. The American Philosophical Society Library and Museum offers a range of short- and long-term residential fellowships to encourage scholarly use of the Library’s resources. The inaugural David Center of the American Revolution Short-term Resident Research fellowships are due on March 6, 2020. Information is available here.

Q. Does the American Philosophical Society provide housing for fellows?

A. No. The American Philosophical Society does not provide housing for fellows but is happy to assist in helping scholars find housing in Philadelphia.

High School Students

Q. Is the American Philosophical Society open to high school students?

A. High School students interested in researching at the American Philosophical Society are welcome on a case-by-case basis. Interested students should email reference@amphilsoc.org to request an informational interview.