Thursday, October 7, 2010

Photograph Collections from the Library Company now on

The Library Company has recently partnered with, providing several photographic collections to its website. Run by the Philadelphia Department of Records, includes photographs and maps from the Free Library of Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Department of Records, the Philadelphia Water Department, and the Philadelphia Office of the City Representative. The Library Company is honored to be the first non-government organization to join the consortium.

To enrich the primarily late-19th-century and 20th-century photograph collections previously found on the website, the Library Company has contributed three collections depicting views of mid-19th-century Philadelphia by the photographers James McClees, Frederick De Bourg Richards, and Montgomery P. Simons. is a unique website where users can search for photographs and maps by location, neighborhood, or keyword and also by maneuvering a map to see available images pinpointed by geographic location. Users can also purchase photographic reproductions through the website. By including these images on, the Library Company hopes to introduce the photographs to new audiences and to make the images available via smart phone technology, another exciting feature of

This is just the beginning of the collaboration as the Library Company intends to upload more collections in the near future. Please visit where you will find the Library Company’s collection by clicking: As a result of our collaboration, one of our images was recently showcased on the University of the Arts Libraries News blog featuring as the “Digital Library of the Week,” which can be found by clicking here:

Library Company Images Now on SepiaTown Website

The Library Company has uploaded several images from the Print and Photograph Department onto SepiaTown, an interactive website where visitors can view historical images from all over the world based on geographic location. SepiaTown’s homepage centers in on New York City but we hope to draw enough attention to Philadelphia to make it their new opening page!

The Library Company has selected a variety of prints and photographs depicting Philadelphia in various time periods spanning from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century. A unique feature of SepiaTown is a then/now feature (see the link near the upper right corner of the screen) juxtaposing the recent google street view with the historical image, often a stark contrast.

We hope this international site will broaden the Library Company’s audience and expose our collection to new viewers. To see the Library Company’s collection, either search for a Philadelphia location by keyword or maneuver the map over Philadelphia. SepiaTown’s homepage can be found by clicking here:

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Article by Librarian James Green Available Online

Librarian James Green has published an article in the September Readex eNewsletter entitled “Supplementing Early American Imprints: The Extraordinary Collection of Michael Zinman.” The article describes how the Zinman Collection has significantly expanded the Library Company’s holdings of pre-1801 American imprints.

Read more on the Readex website:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Library Company’s Collection of African Americana Featured in Philadelphia Inquirer

In a recent Philadelphia Inquirer article staff writer Tom Stoelker highlighted the Library Company’s collection of African Americana and profiled curator of African American History Phil Lapsansky. Click here for the full article:

Sunday, October 3, 2010

More Library Company Collections Added to the Athenaeum’s Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Website

In coordination with the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, the Library Company has recently added collections to the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings (PAB) website. Unlike previous records supplied by the Library Company, the newly uploaded collections include digital images of the original photographs, further enhancing the records. Recently uploaded collections include the William and Frederick Langenheim Stereograph Collection, the McAllister & Brother Church Photograph Collection, and the James McClees Philadelphia Photograph Collection, with more to follow.

For those researching Philadelphia buildings, architects, or neighborhoods, this website is a rich resource with over thirty-four institutions contributing data. The Library Company plans to digitize images of several other collections that are listed in PAB, thereby enhancing this ever-growing website. The Library Company thanks Walter Rice of R&R Computer Solutions, who has uploaded our material onto the website. To see the Library Company’s collections on PAB’s website, please visit this link: You will need to register as a user in order to view records on PAB, but there is no fee to do so.   

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Library Company Hosts Two Summer Programs for Educators

During June and July the Library Company hosted two National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) funded workshops co-sponsored by the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) that brought in teachers from all over the United States to learn more about our nation’s rich history. Both groups utilized the Library Company’s seminar facilities at the adjacent Cassatt House as well as the extensive collections available in our reading rooms.

In June two groups of 25 community college faculty participated in NEH Landmarks week-long workshops on “Revolution to Republic: Philadelphia’s Place in the Early Republic.” Under Project co-Directors Dr. Roderick McDonald and Dr. Michelle Craig McDonald, the two groups explored America’s history through Philadelphia field trips, guest lectures, and primary source materials.

Dr. Rich Newman directed a Summer Seminar for School Teachers in an examination of abolitionist history in Philadelphia. “The Abolitionist Movement: Fighting Slavery and Racial Injustice from the Revolution to the Civil War” brought in 14 school teachers and 2 graduate students from mid-June through mid-July. The group explored abolitionism through primary sources, site visits, and the expertise of guest scholars.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Delaware State History Day

The Library Company and its history were highlighted in a student project submitted for the Delaware State History Day competition held this past April. All over the country, middle school and high school students competed by submitting research papers, creating websites, making documentaries, staging performances, or producing exhibitions based on a general theme, which this year was Innovation in History: Impact and Change. Rachel Cress and Danielle DeCostanza, juniors at Padua Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, placed third in the Senior Group Exhibit category with their project on the Library Company.

Inspired with the idea for the project by Padua Academy’s librarian Barbara Ruszkowski, Rachel and Danielle worked diligently for months researching, designing, and constructing their award-winning exhibit. In order to replicate the Library Company 's original building, they studied exterior and interior images and created a miniature. The entire process took nearly six months. “The process was long, but fun!” they said. “We enjoyed painting, and our favorite part was using cat-litter to create the textured look of brick on the outside!” Danielle added, “This process was enjoyable because we worked on it as partners and as close friends.” The collaboration made learning about the evolution of the library system in America and participating in History Day even more memorable. According to Rachel, “While working in the library and doing our project on a library, we realized how privileged we are today to have all kinds of books available to us at our fingertips.” “To us,” commented Danielle, “The Library Company is one of the most innovative institutions in America.”

Friday, June 4, 2010

Show and Bestow: The Ruth Hughes Collection of Artists’ Books, recently assembled and about to be donated to Oberlin College.

This collection, gathered by Library Company Conservator Alice Austin in honor of Chief Cataloger Ruth Hughes, will be on display from November 20 – December 30, 2009 in the Art and Print Department Galleries on the 2nd floor of the Free Library of Philadelphia, 1901 Vine St. After the exhibition, the collection will be donated to Oberlin College’s Clarence Ward Art Library. The exhibition will coincide with Book, Paper, Scissors, an annual artists’ book fair sponsored by the Philadelphia Center for the Book. This year the fair will be held from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm on Sat., December 5th and you will be able to see the work of several present and former Library Company staff members.

For more information on Book, Paper, Scissors, please visit the Philadelphia Center for the Book’s website,

Andrea Krupp. Top: Straighten Up and Fly Right; Bottom: High-Flying Dare-Devil. ( 2009)

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Philadelphia On Stone: Radio Broadcast

Saturday, March 13th, at 11 a.m., WRTI 90.1 FM aired the radio interview of Philadelphia on Stone director and Assistant Curator Erika Piola and Project Assistant Linda Wisniewski. Conducted by local historian and commentator Tom Keels, the interview focuses on the library's upcoming exhibition Philadelphia on Stone: The First Fifty Years of Commercial Lithography, 1828-1878and its role as an Independent Project of the graphic arts festival Philagrafika 2010. Visit the Philagrafika website for more information.

Click here for Audio

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Huntington Library Visitors

On April 27 the Library Company hosted a group of Trustees and friends of the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California. This was a stop on the group’s marathon eight-day trip to libraries and museums in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Our visitors heard about the history of the Library Company from Director John Van Horne, saw some of our greatest treasures up close as described by Librarian James Green, and had a tour of our exhibition “Philadelphia on Stone” with curator Erika Piola. Then the group got behind the scenes with visits to the Print Department, the McLean Conservation Department, and the rare book stacks. We have it on good authority that the Library Company was one of the highlights of their trip east.   

Sunday, January 3, 2010

New acquisition: “And Cheap at That”: Early American Marriage Manuals

This past month, we bought a copy of the first edition of The Married Woman’s Private Medical Companion (New York, 1847), by an “A.M. Mauriceau,” in part because it contains a remarkable inscription:

“Book Bought April 22d 1848 of a Picture Pedlar at 4/ -- + cheap at that.”

The book subsequently went through some twelve editions and provides useful information on human sexuality and reproduction, much of which we would recognize as fundamentally accurate today (although the text suggests that the “semen of the female” unites with the “semen of the male” for conception to occur).

What makes this a tawdry book to be bought for four shillings (or half a dollar) from a “picture pedlar” (a phrase with the hint of pornography) is its extra roles as a mail order catalog for condoms and as an advertisement for abortion services. By mailing “Dr. Mauriceau” five dollars, one might buy a dozen condoms, and have them sent to “any part of the United States” (p. 144). Only slightly more delicately does he offer his services “to effect miscarriage” at his office at 129 Liberty Street in New York City. (See the wording on the title page, above.)

Who was “Dr. Mauriceau”? According to Janet F. Brodie, writing in her 1994 book Contraception and Abortion in Nineteenth-Century America, “Dr. A.M. Mauriceau” was the pseudonym of either the husband or the brother of Ann Lohman (elsewhere Caroline Lohman), a notorious abortionist who went by the name “Madame Restell.” In 1847, Mrs. Lohman was in prison, having been convicted of second-degree manslaughter after performing an abortion in July 1846 on an unmarried servant who was six months pregnant with her employer’s child. To give you an idea of the popular opinion of Mrs. Lohman, we reproduce an illustration from the trial pamphlet, which shows her above a winged demon holding a fetus in its jaws.

Marriage manuals “for women” (wink, wink) were not uncommon in 19th-century America. One of the most widely available was Frederick Hollick’s The Marriage Guide, of which we have a copy from the undated “196th edition.” Hollick, an early follower of birth-control advocate Robert Dale Owen, warns the reader against the use of the following abortifacients: alum, sulphate of zinc, chloride of zinc, and sulphate of iron, by saying that they cannot be used safely by women at the levels necessary to kill the “seminal animalcules” (p. 323). By this rhetorical strategy, Hollick makes his book overtly anti-abortion in tone, while providing the information which might be used to induce a “miscarriage.”

Consider, also, that Hollick’s book (available wholesale from his publisher T.W. Strong, or singly for one dollar) has its title in gold on the spine, while Mauriceau’s book (at half the price) has an unadorned spine on all of the five copies from various editions in our holdings. Hollick's attractive spines suggest his books could be openly displayed in stores or on newsstands, while the lack of lettering or decoration on Mauriceau's fits the idea that peddlers might sell them slyly, or merchants might keep them under the counter.

The consequences of the two approaches to the content and packaging of marriage manuals were quite different as well. In 1846, the year Mrs. Lohman was tried and convicted of manslaughter, Frederick Hollick was tried and acquitted for obscenity. The subterfuge of the pseudonym protected the actual author of The Married Woman’s Private Medical Companion from the charge of obscenity, thus allowing Mrs. Lohman’s husband and brother to advertise condoms and their abortion services with a certain impunity ... while she herself was serving time in prison for manslaughter.

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