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Special Collections

MEMBER OF PACSCL (Philadelphia Area Consortium of Special Collections Libraries)

The Paul J. Gutman Library maintains various research groups which are housed separately from the library's main book collection.  These collections are comprised of items which are noteworthy and demand special consideration.

List of Current Groups

Textile Industry Historical Collection

Philadelphia Collection

Senator Arlen Specter Archives 

University Archives

        Description of Collections


        Textile Industry Historical Collection

        The Textile Historical Collection is comprised of material related to the development of the textile industry in the United States

        Picture of Textile Factory

        This collection contains a full range of materials documenting the social, technological and economic vicissitudes of the American textile industry.  Presently, over 5,000 volumes, ranging from 18th century European texts on dyeing to contemporary doctoral theses on textile history, are included in this collection.  Over 100 journal titles, published before 1945, are held; of this number, over 30 titles include issues published before 1900. The Library actively pursues original manuscript documents relating to the history of textiles.  These papers include business records of over 20 different companies and the personal papers of at least 30 individuals important in the development of the textile industry.  There is also a separate collection of over 300 volumes of textile company histories.  The acquisition of textile related ephemera; for example, trade cards, letterheads, advertising material, posters, handbills, and photographs is also an ongoing activity.

        While the main focus of the collection is the American textile industry, holdings of material published in other countries is substantial. Contemporary English publications on the history of the British textile industry are purchased and in many instances only held by our library in this country. This is particularly true of British textile company histories, which are often privately published by the company. Also noteworthy is the extensive amount of late 19th century material available on the French textile industry. Over 200 volumes and a large number of French textile machinery catalogs are included in the collection.

        Over 500 trade catalogs for all types of textile machinery are held. Along with this industry material is a group of over 1000 dyeing catalogs from various United States dyestuff companies. Although, the emphasis of the collection is given to material relating to the production of fabric; the collection is also well represented in the areas of design and apparel. Highpoints include: a French counter-book of the 1800's, a number of shirting catalogs from the late 1800's, a manufacturer's display kit of baseball uniforms from the 1930's, original fashion drawings with fabric swatches from the 1940's and long runs of specialized fashion magazines.

        Also included is a growing collection of Victorian Trade Cards relating to the textile industry in Philadelphia. These advertising cards were a primary marketing tool in the later part of the 19th century. Due to the high quality of design and abundant use of color, many individuals, at the time, actively collected these marketing giveaways. Beside being eye catching, in many instances, valuable information regarding products products and production techniques were included on these cards. Many of these cards are available for viewing at our digital collection: Victorian Trade Cards.

        Philadelphia Collection

        This collection supports the research needs of the architectural programs at Philadelphia University.

        Nineteen and twentieth century publications which focus on Philadelphia and surrounding communities in support of the College of Architecture and the Built Environment. These materials include a number of comtemporary publications discussing various aspects of the 1876 Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition. This fair acted as the genesis for the founding of Philadelphia University.

        Also a number of Philadelphia area postcards, from the turn of the century to the present, have been acquired. These are exclusively devoted to images of buildings and local landscape. This collection provides our students and the university community with a visual history of change in Philadelphia. These cards are available for viewing online at: Philadelphia & Environs.

         Senator Arlen Specter Archives

        The historical papers and memorabilia of Arlen Specter

        This collection consists of materials in a range of formats documenting the life, public service and political career (1980 to 2010) of Senator Arlen Senator. These materials support the activities of the Arlen Specter Center for Public Service. 

        University Archives

        The Archives are intended for the use of University community. The contents consists of  material relating to the history of the school since its founding in 1884.

        Picture of University Building

        circa 1890, Textile School, Philadelphia.

        Types of Publications

        • Complete set of School Yearbooks.
        • Complete set of School catalogues.
        • Complete run of all alumni publications.
        • Class notes both by students and faculty.
        • Minutes of the Broad of Trustee Meetings.
        • Annual Reports of the School and Departments.

        An appointment must be made with the School Archivist, Stan Gorski, at gorskis@philau.edu, for access to this material.

        Archive collections available online:

        Architectural History of School Buildings

        Images and information on the history of each building presently owned by the University.  Included is material related to the various land purchases that have been made by the University.

        History of Philadelphia University

        A chronological history of the University is available with images; this presentation shows the physical and educational development of the institution since its founding in 1884.


        For Access to Special Collection materials, contact:

        • Stan Gorski

        • Head of the Special Collections Department

        • gorskis@philau.edu

        • Phone.215.951.2581

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