Free Library of Philadelphia: Archive Highlights

Bridgeman is excited to announce the addition of hundreds of new historic images including one of the world’s most renowned Charles Dickens collections

The mission of the Free Library of Philadelphia is "to advance literacy, guide learning, and inspire curiosity."  

A public library system that serves Philadelphia, it is the tenth-largest public library system in the United States by number of volumes held, housing several rare and unique special collections - more than 6 million items, ranging from books and magazines to art, music, film, and other media.

 
Thanks to the generosity of collectors William Elkins and D. Jacques Benoliel, the Free Library possesses a unique collection of Dickens manuscripts, original illustrations, autographed letters, and other treasures, available now to view on the Bridgeman Images website.  

Special Collections

High-resolution images from the Free Library of Philadelphia's collections are available for publication and other uses. Highlighted below are just some of the categories available.    

 

 

 

Historical Images of Philadelphia 

The pictures contained in this digital collection document Philadelphia’s rich past through its neighborhoods, buildings, and events. The earliest photograph in the historic collection dates back to 1841, although most images are from the latter half of the 19th century.

 

 

12th and Market Streets, 6th March 1909, American Photographer / Free Library, Philadelphia
12th and Market Streets, 6th March 1909, American Photographer / Free Library, Philadelphia

 

 

Grip, the pet raven of Charles Dickens / Free Library of Philadelphia
Grip, the pet raven of Charles Dickens / Free Library of Philadelphia

 

 

 
A truly unique collection featuring first editions of Dickens' works, personal letters, mementos, and the Free Library's prized artefact: Dickens' stuffed pet raven named Grip. A queer and talkative bird, Grip appears as a character in the author's fifth novel, 'Barnaby Rudge'.
 
Images of Grip can be found in the Bridgeman archive alongside charming illustrations of other beloved characters from Dickens' novels, such as Ebenezer Scrooge. 
 
 

 

 

Medieval Manuscripts 

The manuscript collection includes most kinds of books used between 1000 and 1500 A.D. It invites viewers to explore beautifully illustrated and written prayer books, bibles, political propaganda, poetry, philosophical works, and fantastical histories.

 

 

The Way of Poverty or of Wealth, c.1425-50 (tempera on vellum), Master Fastolf (fl.c.1420-60) / Free Library of Philadelphia / Rare Book Department
The Way of Poverty or of Wealth, c.1425-50 (tempera on vellum), Master Fastolf (fl.c.1420-60) / Free Library of Philadelphia / Rare Book Department

 

 

Opening day: the orators, c.1876 (albumen print), American Photographer / Free Library of Philadelphia / Print and Picture Collection
Opening day: the orators, c.1876 (albumen print), American Photographer / Free Library of Philadelphia / Print and Picture Collection

 

 

The United States Centennial Exhibition

 
Thanks to the generous support of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Free Library of Philadelhia hosts a number of images of the 100th birthday party for the United States: the Centennial Exhibition.
 
Officially named the International Exhibition of Arts, Manufactures and Products of the Soil and Mine, the first official World's Fair in the United States was held in Philadelphia from May 10 - November 10 1876. 
 
Nearly 10 million visitors attended the exhibition and more than 37 countries participated in it, to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 
 

For all copyright and licensing enquiries please contact nysales@bridgemanimages.com


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