Ready to visit the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and do some primary source research?
The most important thing to remember: Staff are here to help! We love when students visit….so please don’t be afraid to ask us anything; we want to make this easy for you. The information below, and other useful tips on using HPS's library, can be found in the Library 101 Guide.
After school on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays unitl 5:30, there are Student Mentors available to help students with their research. (They are your "research buddy.") If you need to come another time and would like a mentor to help you, no problem! Just let us know in advance when you will be here by submitting this Student Research Request Form and we will have someone ready to help you.
Directions: HSP is close to the Broad Street Subway and several bus routes. For details, see /plan-your-visit/address-and-directions-0
When you get here
Registration: When you first arrive, you will need to stop at the front desk. They will ask you to write your name and school. Bring your student ID with you.
Admission fees: As a student, your admission is free! Any adults coming in with you will need to pay $8. If your parents don’t want to come inside the library, they can hang out in the lobby. It’s a pretty comfortable place.
Your stuff: If you’re coming from school and have a bag, backpack, purse, etc, you can’t bring those into the library. But don’t worry, there are lockers in the lobby.
Hungry? Food and drinks have to stay in the lobby, but there are tables and chairs to sit and eat. There’s even a lounge area with a microwave you can use! So if you feel the need to stop for a slice of pizza before heading inside, no worries, we’ve got a place for you to enjoy it.
What can I bring in? You may bring folders, notebooks, pencils, cell phones, and laptops or tablets (as long as they aren't in cases) with you into the library. No pens or markers! They could cause permanent damage to materials. If you need a pencil, just ask at the front desk, they’ve got plenty.
Inside the library
Where is everything? There are three main ways to access materials at HSP:
Open Stacks - If something is listed as being in the Reading Room, Pennsylvania Room, or Family History Room, those are materials you can find yourself using the item's call number. If you aren't sure how to do that, just ask someone and they will gladly help.
Closed Stacks - Any item listed as "Closed Stacks" (which is most of what's here) means you will need to fill out what's called a "call slip" and have a librarian bring it to you. You can ask for up to three items at a time. Just be warned: It can take 15 minutes or so to get it to you, so be patient!
Microfilm - Items in the Albert M. Greenfield Microform and Media Center are on what's called microfilm. This is sort of a big strip of pictures of documents that you read with a special machine. While you can go in and do this yourself, it's probably best to ask a librarian to help you.
This guide to research at HSP by created by 2014 Teacher Fellow Elissa Goldberg and adapted by 2015 Education Intern, Beth Potens.