I need help with my research!
HSP welcomes researchers to its library at 1300 Locust Street. However, we also realize that not everyone can come and do research themselves. Don’t worry; we have a couple of options. If you have a quick question (such as: Do you have the records for Mt. Moriah Cemetery?), e-mail us at ReadyReference@hsp.org or call our Reference Line (215-732-6200 ext. 209). If your question is a bit more involved (such as: Is my Aunt Edna buried in Mt. Moriah Cemetery?), try our Research-by-Mail service on our website or email ResearchByMail@hsp.org. This is a fee-based service where one of our professional librarians will research your question. People generally just need one hour of research to get started (a second hour is available at a reduced rate if needed). HSP members receive a discount on these research services.
Is everything in the collections searchable online?
The short answer is no. HSP has over 21 million items in its collections. Only a small fraction of the material is scanned and searchable.
- Items which are scanned (mostly graphic material) can be searched on our Digital Library.
- To search our online catalogue of archival collections, books, pamphlets, and serials, use Discover. Results from this type of search will let you know if an item is in our collections. You will still need to come to HSP (or contact HSP staff) to use any of them.
- Itemized manuscripts are still only accessed via the card catalogues at the Historical Society.
- Our website also lists hundreds of finding aids. These are guides to archival collections, which give a description of the collection, including series information and often an inventory for easy paging.
Can I request items prior to visiting HSP?
HSP does offer an advanced paging service for its patron-level members. Please check out our membership section for more information on how to sign up for this level or to upgrade your current membership.
Why are your security rules so tight? Why can’t I bring my brief case into the library?
The staff at HSP want to make sure that our material will be around for generations of researchers to come. Unfortunately a few bad apples can ruin it for others. To minimize collection loss, researchers may only bring in folders, note pads, etc. which are open on three sides. Portfolio cases, brief cases, computer cases, etc. are not permitted. Having an item open on three sides allows for a more efficient screening process as one exits the library. HSP provides lockers for your personal items—we’ll even provide you a quarter if you need one.
Why can’t I use a pen? Why can’t I eat in the Reading Room?
Any item which may make a permanent mark (pens, markers, highlighters, lipstick, etc.) are prohibited in the library. Additionally, anything which could leave a stain, like food or drink, is not allowed (food also invites critters). Patrons are welcome to enjoy a snack or beverage in the lobby or locker areas.
Why is it so cold in the Reading Room?
The Reading Room is on the same HVAC system, unfortunately, as the vaults. The vaults are kept at 68 degrees for the preservation of paper items. Researchers are welcome to wear sweaters, blazers, or sports coats in the library to weather the cool conditions.
I’d like to use an image I found in an article for a presentation or project.
We are always pleased when someone finds an image or wishes to use a quote from one of our documents. Simply contact our Rights & Reproductions Department for permission: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I love HSP and want to support your mission of preserving and sharing history!
Please contact our development office for details on how to support HSP: email@example.com.