Civil War Philadelphia and Its Countryside

Rosenbach Museum & Library   2008-2010 Delancey Place, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Hours/Access Policy
Museum Hours: Tuesday, noon-5 p.m.; Wednesday and Thursday, noon-8 p.m.; Friday, noon-5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, noon-6 p.m.

Research (by appointment only) Hours: Wednesday and Thursday, 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m.; Friday, 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Reading room closes for lunch 12:30-1:30 p.m. There is no fee for the use of the library.

Research policies and information can be found at:

The Rosenbach closes for snow or other inclement weather conditions on days when the Philadelphia parochial school system does so.

Link to website:

Contact Information  Institutional, 215- 732-1600; Librarian, Elizabeth Fuller, 215-732-1600 x115,

PDF version of this page.

The Rosenbach Museum & Library was founded in 1954 by Dr. A.S.W. Rosenbach (1876-1952) and his brother, Philip (1863-1953). Renowned dealers in books, manuscripts, and fine art, the brothers played a central role in the development of private libraries that later became our nation’s most important public collections of rare books.

The Rosenbach’s library collections encompass approximately 30,000 rare books and 300,000 pages of manuscript. Most of the Rosenbach’s holdings are included in card catalogs and databases which can be searched on-site. There are several unpublished finding aids for individual collections.

Civil War Collection
The Rosenbach’s collections are rich in important materials related to the Civil War, including letters and documents by Lincoln, Grant, Lee, and many other political and military leaders. Slavery, as one of the formative themes in American history, is a significant topic in the historical collections, including abolitionist poetry, eyewitness sketches of the trial of John Brown, and materials related to the Emancipation Proclamation and Thirteenth Amendment. The two row homes that house the Rosenbach Museum & Library were constructed speculatively in the immediate postbellum period.

Collections of Interest
The Rosenbach’s collections have a national focus, but the following items are among those related specifically to Philadelphia:

The Home Front and Civilians


1. Diary and account book (1844-1890) of John Henry Brown, a miniature painter living and working in Philadelphia. Brown had been commissioned to paint Lincoln in 1860, but personally opposed Lincoln’s policies. Cross-listed in Lincoln in Philadelphia.

2. Rush-Williams-Biddle Family Papers. Great concentration of home-front materials written during war by Julia Rush Williams Biddle to her husband Alexander, an officer of the 121st PA Volunteers. Also are letters to both of them from relatives and friends. Cross listed in Militaria.

3. Autograph manuscript of Lincoln’s Baltimore Address together with a letter from his secretary John Hay donating it to be sold at the 1864 Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia. Cross listed in Lincoln in Philadelphia.

4. Letter from George Gordon Meade to Mrs. T.F. Frazer and Mrs. W.B. Haseltine, 1864 November 22 with thanks for a gift presented to him by the Sanitary Fair.

5. Two letters from Ulysses S. Grant to his father, Jesse Root Grant, indicating Grant’s intention to move to Philadelphia.

Printed Material

1. The New Book of Nonsense, a collection of original limericks, some war-related, written as a fund-raiser for the 1864 Sanitary Fair in Philadelphia.

2. Several pamphlets relating to the Union League of Philadelphia and the 1863 gubernatorial campaign.

3. Report of the Commander of the Philadelphia Home Guard for the year 1861.

4. Poetry—several works, serious and popular, relating to war.

5. Philadelphia Home Guard Report of Brig. Gen. Pleasanton. Guard of the City of Phila. 1861.

6. Republican Party, Pennsylvania, State Central Committee, Address to the Union State Central Committee of Pennsylvania. 1863

7. Approximately 30 wartime issues of the Philadelphia Inquirer and 4 issues of the Philadelphia Press

African-American Community


1.William Rush. Talk presented in West Chester.” Essay on the Africans having been subjected to more injuries than the Indians.”

2. William Rush. 1849 March 9. Response in a debate on slavery, “ Ought slavery to be immediately abolished.”

3. Justice George Washington Woodward 1860 proslavery speech.

Militaria and Diaries


Rush-Williams-Biddle Family Papers; papers of Alexander Biddle, an officer of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteers. These consist of more than 320 letters written to his wife, Julia Rush Williams Biddle, from the field between 1861 and 1864, as well as a smaller number of letters from other people concerning aspects of the war, maps, clippings, accounts of the battle of Gettysburg, and photographs of officers. There is also a deathbed letter by Biddle’s brother, Henry Jonathan Biddle, written to his wife from a Richmond hospital. Cross-listed in
Home Front.

Printed Materials

An 1865 recruiting broadside for a new Pennsylvania brigade to be composed of veterans, which gives details of pay and benefits.

Lincoln in Philadelphia


1. Manuscript of Lincoln’s Baltimore Address in which he analyzes conflictingmeaning of word liberty and comments on rumors of the massacre of surrendered black troops at Fort Pillow. Sold at the Philadelphia Sanitary Fair to William H. Lambert. Cross-listed in Home Front.

2. Poem Clay H. Stout, Fishing: A Fourth of July Poem, 1865 Lincoln assassination mentioned and conspirators Surrat and Payne.

3. Henry Jonathan Williams. Chestnut Hill citizens’ resolution on death of Lincoln.

4. .Diary and account book (1844-1890) of John Henry Brown, a miniature painter living and working in Philadelphia. Brown painted Lincoln in Springfield IL in August 1860 and comments on Lincoln’s funeral in Philadelphia in April 1865. Cross-listed in Home Front.



1. Extra illustrated centennial history of the First Troop City Cavalry has large section devoted to Troop’s service during the war. Also has portraits of numerous CW officers and views of sites like Harper’s Ferry and Libby Prison.

2. Poem Clay H. Stout, Fishing: A Fourth of July Poem, 1865 includes references to the Rebels and Lincoln’s assassination. Cross-listed in Lincoln in Philadelphia.

Printed Materials

GAR printed membership certificate for Post member c.1866.

For more information about Rosenbach’s Collections, please visit the following pages

Americana Collection (

Today in the Civil War (

Manuscripts Online (

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