Civil War Philadelphia and Its Countryside

Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
1901 Vine Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103   215-686-5322


Hours/Access Policy  Monday-Thursday 9 a.m.-9 p.m., Friday 9-6, Saturday 9-5, Sunday 1-5 (no access restrictions).

Contact Information   Social Science and History Department 215-686-5396

PDF version of this page.

The Free Library of Philadelphia is the public library for the City of Philadelphia, with 54 branches throughout the city, and the Parkway Central Library, located between 19th and 20th streets on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The Social Science and History Department at Parkway Central is the place to start your search for books, journal articles, and Internet database resources. Further information, including history and mission of FLP in general, at:

Civil War Collection
This organization has a rich Civil War collection. SSH holds approximately 2,700 Civil War-related monographs, both in the main reading room and in book stacks (about 28% of our American history titles). Works go back the Civil War era itself, and are especially rich in regimental histories, focusing on local military outfits. The collection is also strong in Philadelphia history. (We recently completed a project of conserving damaged and fragile books from this collection.)

FLP will post a Civil War research guide to be called Civil War 150 on its homepage, sometime in March 2011 (this will not be a permanent resource, but probably will be up for about 4-6 months; users should still be directed to the main website above for general information about collections). There will also be an exhibit of Civil War posters, books, maps, sheet music, etc., from the collections of the Social Science and History Department, Music Department, and the Print and Picture Department beginning mid to late March, through June 2011.

Collection Highlights


1. Original copy of William Still’s book The Underground Railroad, and Frederick Douglass’s My Bondage and My Freedom (Rare Book Department).

2. Genealogical publications and other materials that assist public in doing genealogical research on CW soldiers.

3. Simon Gratz Confederate Monograph Collection (about 128 books in the Rare Book Department).

4. As a Federal Depository Library since 1896, the Free Library has many government documents of interest to Civil War researchers.

5. Collection of patent information. (yes but why list this? suggest delete)

6. Newspaper collection with runs of local papers during CW period, and the Philadelphia Inquirer Civil War Archive Internet database, available at all FLP locations and remotely with library card authentication.

7. The Print and Picture Collection has Civil War posters, Sanitary Fair posters, and other images of Philadelphia during the 1850’s and the Civil War era.

8. The Music Department has a collection of Civil War-era sheet music, many with decorative and unusual covers.


The War of the Rebellion : a Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies, and The Medical and Surgical History of the War of the Rebellion 1861-65, Government Publications Department, as well as Samuel P. Bates’ History of Pennsylvania Volunteers, 1861-5, Social Science and History Department.


Built Legacy

1. Free Library located near location of the Colored Soldiers and Sailors Memorial and the Galusha Pennypacker statue and monument built in honor of Civil War soldiers.

2. Free Library faces Logan Circle where the Great Fair was held for the U.S. Sanitary Commission.


This project has been generously supported by the Honorable Larry Farnese, PA Senator, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources,
the Department of Community and Economic Development, and the Samuel S. Fels Fund.


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About the Guide Civil War in Philadelphia Philadelphia Collections Notes for Researchers