Black History Month: GeneaGem – Library Company of Philadelphia

February is Black History Month, so I’d like to share some free GeneaGems that I hope will be new resources for your African-American family history research. There will be one new GeneaGem each week, providing an introduction and quick overview of the website, and all the websites are free.

Today, I would like to spotlight the Library Company of Philadelphia, a completely new-to-me resource. This library is not the repository to which you would come looking for a particular ancestor, but instead because you want to learn about the social history of black Americans

The history of the Library Company is amazing on its own:

The Library Company is America’s first successful lending library and oldest cultural institution. It was founded in 1731 by Benjamin Franklin as a subscription library supported by its shareholders, as it is to this day.

Although it is a private library, it is rich in resources and offers a number of exhibitions based on its collections.

Among its holdings that document American society and culture between the 17th and 19th centuries is the African Americana Collection, found under the Research tab and then Subject Guide:

Browsing the African Americana Collection brings up:

If you are lucky enough to live in the Philadelphia area, the Library Company of Philadelphia is located at 1314 Locust Street
Philadelphia, PA 19107.

Call for General Information & Reading Room: (215) 546-3181 or email: to learn about visitation policies and materials that are not digitally available online.


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