The Society’s outstanding holdings on the formation of Pennsylvania and early administration of the Commonwealth begin with the largest assemblage of William Penn materials, many of which are in the Penn Family and Penn-Forbes Family papers. Among other notable collections are papers of the Logan, Cadwalader, Drinker, Jacobs, Lardner, and Norris families. There are extensive early grants, deeds, and maps. The Churchman Papers of Kirk Brown, and the papers of George Churchman, Lightfoot Family, Jacob and Isaac Taylor, and Chester, Lancaster, Northampton, and Northumberland counties include many early Pennsylvania land surveys. The Mason and Dixon Line Papers and the Chew Family Papers document the 18th-century project to survey the Pennsylvania-Maryland boundary.
Notable collections documenting the creation of the American republic include the papers of Benjamin Franklin, Continental Congress President Henry Laurens, John Dickenson (Robert Restalrig Logan Papers), Charles Thomson, and George Clymer. The papers of Eliza Farmer, William Strahan, John Warder, and James Allen include extensive commentary on political events before, during, and after the American Revolution.
The Society’s holdings include the first and second drafts of the U.S. Constitution (James Wilson Papers), as well as a 1765 Non-Importation Resolution signed by Philadelphia citizens protesting British taxes and the only known original printer’s proof of the Declaration of Independence.