This is a guide to materials available through the University of the Arts Libraries on Philadelphia's cultural and historical resources: museums, libraries, archives, architecture, historic sites and points of interest. For information on other Philadelphia-area libraries please see our page, Using Other Philadelphia Libraries.

Send questions or remarks about this page to Sara MacDonald, Public Services Librarian,


The first place to look when beginning research on a topic is in reference material: specialized dictionaries, encyclopedias or handbooks. These allow you to check names, dates and places, find additional information, look up unknown terms, and check for the proper spelling of words. They are particularly helpful for finding basic background information on a topic, and are often the only place many students may need to look to find answers to their questions. They may include bibliographies (lists of additional materials on a topic, usually considered by the author to be the best materials on that topic) that you can use to find other materials.

Call numbers are for the Greenfield Library unless otherwise indicated.

Cultural Connections: Museums and Libraries of Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley.
Morris J. Vogel. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1991.
E169.1 .V88 1991
Overviews of 85 Philadelphia and Delaware Valley-region museums, libraries, historical societies, and gardens.
Philadelphia Theatres, A-Z.
Irvin R. Glazer. West Greenwood, CT: Greenwood Press, 1986.
REF NA6830 .G58 1986
Excellent study of Philadelphia theaters. Glazer's personal collection of Philadelphia theater architecture is held by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia.
Public Art in Philadelphia.
Penny Balkin Bach. Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1992.
REF N8836.P4 B33 1992
N8836.P4 B33 1992
Did you know that Philadelphia has more public art than any other American city? Learn more here! An interesting bibliography for each chapter is also included.
Biographical Dictionary of Philadelphia Architects, 1700-1930.
Sandra L. Tatman, Roger W. Moss. Boston, MA: G.K. Hall, 1985.
REF NA735.P5 T28 1985
Great place to start research on architects such as John Haviland, William Strickland, and Frank Furness, all of whom designed portions of UArts' Hamilton Hall.
The WPA Guide to Philadelphia
Compiled by the Federal Writers' Project of the Works Progress Administration. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988.
REF F158.18 .P46 1988
A reprint of the 1937 guidebook to Philadelphia, this includes essays on history, government, economics, and cultural aspects. This is a primary source on what life was like in Philadelphia in the 1930s.
Philadelphia Architecture: A Guide to the City
Prepared for the Foundation for Architecture by the Group for Environmental Education, Inc.; John Andrew Gallery, general editor. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Foundation for Architecture, c1994.
REF NA735.P5 P48 1994
Nice guidebook-style book provides basic information on many Philadelphia buildings.
Workshop of the World: A Selective Guide to the Industrial Archeology of Philadelphia
By the Oliver Evans Chapter of the Society for Industrial Archeology. Wallingford, PA: Oliver Evans Press, c1990.
REF T22.5.P4 W67 1990
Learn about the Shot Tower, the textile mills of Kensington and Frankford, and Tastykake!
Workshop of the World
Produced by WHYY-Philadelphia.
Greenfield DVD GD1590
Great video about the late 19th- and early 20th-century manufacturing might of Philadelphia.


Magazine and journal articles will always be the best place to look for current information on your topic. Periodical indexes are research tools that allow you to search for articles in journals and magazines.

On the library's home page, under ONLINE RESOURCES, select Articles. You'll see a list of electronic periodical indexes and databases to which the UArts Libraries subscribe.

I've found articles I want to read. Now what?
There are different ways to find an article once you pull up a citation in the index:

  • See if there is a link in the index you're using to a full-text article online and download it or e-mail it to yourself.
  • Check to see if our library holds the journal title. Look up the journal title or the ISSN*** in the catalog and look at the holdings.
  • Use interlibrary loan to request materials not owned by the UArts Libraries.
  • See what other libraries in the area hold the journal.

    • ***What is an ISSN? ISSN stands for International Standard Serial Number and is a unique number for a magazine or journal (not individual articles, but the magazine/journal title itself). You can use it in the UArts Libraries catalog and in many periodical indexes and databases. Searching with a number is much more precise than typing out a long title.

Style Manuals: Citing Your Sources

When you find information on a topic, no matter what format it takes (book, journal, Web page), there are style manuals to show you the correct way to give cite those sources in a paper.


Searching the Web can be overwhelming. If you are using the Internet for research you want to choose sites that meet the standards of accuracy, currency and authority.

Below are just a few Philadelphia-related sites that may be of interest to the University of the Arts community.

The Artblog
Formerly known as Philly Artblog, this is a well-respected and active site.

Association for Public Art
"The Association for Public Art (formerly the Fairmount Park Art Association) was established in 1872 and is the nation’s first private, nonprofit civic organization dedicated to creating a Museum Without Walls™ by integrating public art and urban planning. The Association for Public Art (aPA) carries out its multiple objectives to commission, preserve, promote and interpret public art in Philadelphia through exemplary and innovative programs and advocacy efforts. By engaging diverse segments of the community, the aPA seeks to respond to the conditions of our time, creating a legacy and maintaining a heritage for future generations, while promoting Philadelphia as a premier city for public art." from the Mission and History page.

Chronicling America: Historical American Newspapers
Chronicling America is a free resource of selected digitized American newspapers. Search results tend to be high; use the Advanced Search interface to narrow by dates or geographic areas.

Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia
"The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia is a civic project to increase understanding of one of America’s greatest cities. The Encyclopedia as a digital resource and print volume will offer the most comprehensive, authoritative reference source ever created for the Philadelphia region." Has a good summary of the development of center city.

" is your guide to Pennsylvania's rich tapestry of historic events, people and locations - as identified by the Commonwealth's Historical Markers Program."

Free Library of Philadelphia
Philadelphia's public library system. UArts students should note that they do not have to live in Philadelphia to get a library card; a Free Library card is available at no cost to anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia. See their Web site for how to get a card. Be sure to see the UArts Libraries page on other Philadelphia libraries.

Free Library of Philadelphia: Centennial Exhibition Digital Collection
Great online exhibition about the 1876 Centennial in Philadelphia. The Centennial was the motivation behind founding the Pennsylvania Museum and School of Industrial Art, the school of which is now the UArts College Art, Media and Design.

Grand Lodge of Free and Accepted Masons of Pennsylvania
The Masonic Temple, just north of City Hall, is home of the Grand Lodge and is one of the most amazing buildings in Philadelphia. An online tour is available, but there's nothing like seeing it in person. There are also a library, and a museum that contains items such as Benjamin Franklin's Masonic sash and George Washington's Masonic apron. Check the site for tour information and fees ($6.00 for students).

Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance
See their About, Members, and Arts Advocacy Research.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Literally around the corner at 13th and Locust, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania was founded in 1824 and is a special collections library full of primary sources such as manuscripts, prints, photographs, letters, and much, much more. Start your Pennsylvania or Philadelphia research at UArts, and then ask a UArts librarian if the Historical Society will be a good place for your topic; the answer is probably yes. Be sure to look at their Plan Your Visit page before you go so you know what to expect. Plan your visit beforehand to make the best use of your time. Be sure to see the UArts Libraries page on other Philadelphia libraries.

History Making Productions
"History Making Productions is a full-service film and video production studio located in Philadelphia best known for provocative character-driven history documentaries, original music, and groundbreaking scholarship. HMP has received more than two dozen Emmy Awards for its inclusive and democratic approach to history and current events."--from their About page. See their Films and, under Education, Webisodes.

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Excellent, excellent scholarly Web site put together by the Athenaeum of Philadelphia, University of Pennsylvania Architectural Archives, Philadelphia Historical Commission, and Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Please note that searching and viewing the information is free, but access to high-resolution images requires an account ($40, $25 for students).

Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries
"The thirty-six member libraries and archives of the Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries (PACSCL) collect, care for, and share with a world-wide audience collections that, in their depth and variety, comprise an internationally important body of unique materials for students, scholars and lifelong learners at any level."--from About PACSCL

Philadelphia City Hall: Virtual Tour
This virtual tour is excellent, but one of the best FREE things you can do in Philadelphia is take a tour of City Hall. The history is fascinating, and the amount of sculpture is amazing. Just want to go up in the clock tower? Stop and get a timed ticket. Going up in the clock tower, just under the statue of William Penn, is thrilling. The tower is one of the world's tallest and largest all-masonry, load-bearing structures without a steel or iron frame. The tower is not always open to the public, depending on the weather and other circumstances. You can always call ahead to make sure: 215-686-2840.

Philadelphia GeoHistory Network
Very cool and fun; scholarly and authoritative, too! Check out old maps, search old city directories of Philadelphia. See the list of resources to get an idea of what's here.

"Philagrafika's mission is to promote and sustain printmaking as a vital and valued art form by providing artistic, programmatic and administrative leadership for large-scale, cooperative initiatives with broad public exposure."-- source: About.

Philly History
Be sure to check out "Behind the Scenes":

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