Student Guide to Visiting HSP

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Student Guide to Visiting HSP

Ready to research primary sources at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania?

Remember - our staff is here to help! Do not hesitate to ask an HSP staff member any questions you may have. We are here to make your research experience the best that it can be. Read through the information below and check out our Library 101 Guide for tips and tricks on using HSP's library.

Visiting the Historical Society of Pennsylvania

Hours: HSP is open 10am-4pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays. HSP is open from 1pm-7pm on Wednesdays, so feel free to drop by after school! Education staff is on-hand on Wednesday afternoons to assist students. 

Directions: HSP is close to the Broad Street Subway and several bus routes. Click here for more information about reaching HSP by public transportation or by car.

When you get here

Registration: When you first arrive, you will need to stop at the front desk to register for your visit. A staff member will ask you to write your name and school. Make sure you bring your student ID with you!

Admission Fees: As a student, your admission is free!

Your Stuff:  We have lockers in the lobby for you to store your bags, backpacks, purses, any other items you might have brought with you. You are allowed to bring folders, notebooks, pencils, cell phones, and laptops or tablets (but no cases) with you into the library. No pens or markers are allowed in the library, as they could cause permanent damage to materials. If you forgot a pencil, don't worry — ask a staff member at the front desk and they'll lend you one.

Food and Drink: Food and drink aren't allowed in the library, but you may eat or drink in the lobby. We have tables and chairs in the lobby for you to sit, eat, and relax. We also have a lounge area with a microwave. So if you feel the need to grab a slice of pizza before coming in to do research, don't worry — we've got a place for you to enjoy it!

Inside the library

You might be wondering: Where is everything? How do I find what I'm looking for?

We've got you covered. At HSP, there are three main ways to access the materials in our collection:

  1. If an item is in the open stacks, it is located in the Reading Room, the Pennsylvania Room, or the Family History Room. You can use the item's call number to locate the item on the shelves. You do not need to fill out anything to access these items once you are in the library. If you're having trouble finding the item, ask a librarian for help — they'd be happy to!
  2. Most of the materials in HSP's collection are in the closed stacks, which means that you will need to fill out a form called a "call slip" and turn it into the front desk. Once a staff member receives your call slip, a librarian will go find the item you requested and bring it to you. You can ask for up to three items at a time. Just a heads up: our librarians have to dig deep for some materials, so it could take about 15 minutes for you to get your item.
  3. If you are looking for an item in the Albert M. Greenfield Microform and Media Center, such as an old newspaper, then your item is on what's called microfilm. Microfilm is a large strip of pictures of documents that you read with a special machine. While you can go in to the Microform and Media Center on your own, it is probably best to ask a librarian to help you.


This guide to research at HSP was created by 2014 Teacher Fellow Elissa Goldberg and adapted by 2015 Education Intern Beth Potens.