Monday, September 10, 2012

Pilot Program with Lokadot

The Library Company has been chosen as one of five Philadelphia non-profits to join with newly-formed software development company Lokadot to launch a pilot program for its new application.  Lokadot (a mash-up of “location” and “anecdote”) crowd-sources audio files to create a walking tour of the city.  With the Lokadot application on a mobile phone, a user can walk the streets of Philadelphia and hear recorded presentations about historic and noteworthy sites which play automatically as he or she physically approaches their locations.

Founded in 2011 by Philadelphia entrepreneur Cliff Stevens, Lokadot offers ways for the Library Company to better serve the public both inside and outside our building.  By combining Lokadot’s software with simple QR codes, the Library Company will soon be able to implement audio tours of our galleries.  Easily accessible prerecorded presentations by exhibition curators will allow casual walk-in visitors and other exhibition attendees the advantages of a personal tour by the people who know the material best. At the same time, only a tiny fraction of the visitors to Philadelphia’s historic sites would normally have the opportunity to learn more about the related documents and ephemera in the Library Company collections.  Our partnership with Lokadat will enable us to make brief engaging clips discussing historic moments and events available to visitors anywhere in the city. 

The Library Company’s first contributions—available this fall—will be based on tours of important sites in the history of Abolitionism conducted for participants in a summer seminar for teachers in 2012. Library Company Director John Van Horne summed up the impact of this collaboration, saying “we are thrilled with the prospect of sharing the information in our collections in this way.”

Read Lokadot's most recent press release.

LCP in the New Yorker—Burma Shave Style!

The Library Company has launched an advertising campaign in The New Yorker magazine modeled on the old Burma Shave signs that dotted the edges of America’s highways from the 1920s through the 1960s.  Beginning with the ad pictured here, which appeared in the September 10 edition, and running through the end of the year, each week a new ad will highlight some noteworthy aspect of our history and our collections.  The tiny ads give out just enough information to entice readers to a website that will give them a more in-depth discussion of the week’s topic and—ideally—lead them deeper into the Library Company’s regular site to learn more about the institution.  

The ad campaign is the brainchild—and generous gift—of Library Company Trustee Davida Deutsch, who has long felt that the readership of the magazine was a natural constituency for the Library Company. While The New Yorker ads are not consecutive the way the Burma Shave messages were, we hope that by adopting the same playfulness we will intrigue and delight a whole new audience.

This is not the first time that the Library Company has benefitted from the creative marketing genius of Ms. Deutsch, an independent scholar with interests in women’s history, the history of education, and material culture and art history.  Always convinced that what everyone really wants—whether they realize it or not—is to know more about the Library Company, and always alert to ways that her contacts can help us, she convinced Swann Auction Galleries to feature an exhibition of our African Americana on the basis of how much our early work had done to build this market. She was also instrumental in prevailing upon the editors of Antiques Magazine to devote an issue to the Library Company at the time of our 275th Anniversary in 2006.  We still use this beautiful edition with articles on our color-plate books, clocks, bindings, and other subjects today as an introduction to the institution. Most recently, Ms. Deutsch was able to interest a New York Times writer in our recent acquisition of a volume owned by 18th-century Library Company bookagent Peter Collinson.

We look forward to the increased traffic as The New Yorker readers rush to the new site.  Be sure to check back each week for the newest installment.  

"Foreign Confidence" Conference

The 12th annual conference of the Program in Early American Economy and Society (PEAES) will bring together scholars from Europe and North America on October 11 and 12 to talk about a timely subject: “Foreign Confidence: International Investment in North America, 1700 to 1860.” During the colonial and early republic years, various international networks of individuals and institutions provided funds, credit, and knowledge to North Americans. These transnational resources spurred investors on different continents to join together in many commercial, transportation, philanthropic, and banking enterprises that might have been impossible to create if North Americans had undertaken them alone. New research by historians working in France, Spain, England, Holland, Mexico, and North Africa highlights the great reach of foreign capital and credit flowing into North America. Strategic international marriages and family collaborations across numerous empires helped shape these investing networks, as did elaborate efforts by investors to keep information secret. In fact, money and expertise from around the world were essential for early North American development.

The conference is co-sponsored by The Rothschild Archive, London, which was established in 1978 to preserve and arrange the records of a family that made profound contributions to the development and history of many countries. The Archive not only holds the Rothschild family history archive, it also maintains an international research center in London where scholars from around the world can gather to work on many themes related to financial and business history.

The keynote address on Thursday evening, “Atlantic History and Financial History,” will be given by Emma Rothschild of Harvard University. Following the themes in her recent book, The Inner Life of Empires: An Eighteenth-Century History, Professor Rothschild will kick off the conference with reflections about how one (very large) Scottish family, the Johnstones, spread themselves and their investments around the world during the 18th century. Like other scholars participating in the conference program, she used a variety of records to illuminate a very complicated family portrait, including records of their voyages, marriages, debts, lawsuits, and innermost personal sentiments.

On Friday, a series of presentations by established scholars will further explore how foreign networks of individuals and institutions provided funds, credit, and knowledge to North Americans during a heady period of transnational investment and development. The final panel of the day will focus on the rich resources available in other countries for research into this topic.

For more about the conference, visit the PEAES website at We look forward to seeing you at the conference!

Celebrating Frank Furness

On September 17, the Library Company will open its newest exhibition Frank Furness: Working on the Railroads.  The exhibition is funded by the William Penn Foundation as part of a citywide festival celebrating the legacy and innovation of Philadelphia’s most famous architect on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of his death. 

Furness produced some 1,000 projects and shaped students who would join him in transforming American architecture, such as Louis Sullivan, William Price, and George Howe, whose works would define the skylines of Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlantic City for the next century.  The methods Furness used have continued to influence the most innovative Philadelphia architects, from Louis Kahn in the 20th century to Robert Venturi at the dawn of the 21st. Close to home, the firm of Furness & Evans served as architect for the Library Company’s Cassatt House, owned by a brother of Mary Cassatt, at 1320 Locust Street.  

Working on the Railroads includes a wide variety of objects from both private and institutional collections. Guest curated by Furness scholar George Thomas, the exhibition brings together architectural drawings, artifacts, original art, and photographs to tell the story of the work Furness undertook for three of the nation’s major railroads, the Philadelphia & Reading, the Baltimore & Ohio, and the Pennsylvania. Thomas and Library Company staff explored nearly 200 commissions.
In these projects Furness began with an understanding of purpose and created imaginative designs that captured the energy of the Industrial Age. Visitors to the exhibition will be able to see a model of Philadelphia’s Broad Street Station, salvaged architectural pieces from that station, original plans for other stations designed by Furness, and photographs of many Furness-designed stations that are no longer in existence. 

 “Working on the Railroads” is on view from Monday, September 17, through Friday, April 19, 2013. Join us for our exhibition opening and lecture on Monday, September 24, at 6:00 p.m. George Thomas, architectural and cultural historian, will speak on “Inventing Modern—The Railroad Architecture of Frank Furness.” Please RSVP by visiting or by calling 215-546-3181. Visit for more information about events throughout the city.

LCP News Menu