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Banner Image: The Athenaeum's first location was in rented rooms on the second floor of this building on the SE corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets.

Membership    ·    New Books    ·    Event Calendar

Banner Image: The Athenaeum's first location was in rented rooms on the second floor of this building on the SE corner of 4th and Chestnut Streets.

Reminder:  The Athenaeum's inclement weather policy is to close when the Philadelphia Public Schools close.  If there is bad weather for a Saturday opening, please call before you come to make sure we're open.

200th Anniversary Year

2014 is the Athenaeum's 200th Anniversary year!  

Read the Press Release

January 2014 Programs

Although evening programming in January can present problems due to weather, the Athenaeum does have three daytime programs for you to enjoy:

Tuesday, January 14, 11am - Socrates Cafe discussion group - FREE

Saturday, January 18, 2pm - Gallery Talk with co-curators Samuel Streit and Daniel Traister, "Samuel Breck (1771-1862): Books from the Collection of a Philadelphia Francophile." Join the co-curators as they discuss the Breck bequests to the Athenaeum and the man himself. FREE, but RSVP required. 215-925-2688 or

Wednesday, January 22, 2:30pm - "Prevention and Detection of Skin Cancers," with Rosalie Elenitsas, M.D., F.A.A.D., Professor of Dermatology; Director of Dermatopathology, Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. This lecture marks the beginning of a series of three lectures which the Athenaeum will co-sponsor with Society Hill - Hot and Healthy. FREE, but RSVP required. 215-925-2688 or


Point Breeze Tour


A small, but hardy band of folks made the trip to Point Breeze on Sunday, December 8th. We were greeted warmly by Brother Patrick Hogan, Michael Hanlon, and Athenaeum member Peter Tucci. Although we could not tour the site, archaeologist Richard Veit's presentation allowed us to see the work that he has conducted there with his students. He also brought out some of the artifacts which they have discovered.


John Fatula (1937-2013)


We note the passing of the Athenaeum's steadfast volunteer, architect and book artist John A. Fatula. Before moving back to Philadelphia from his retirement home in Maine, John participated in two Athenaeum book design exhibitions, displaying the wonderful and complex "Temple" book in our "Art Bound: Book Design Past and Present" (see the book here) and then his Babar toy book in the Athenaeum's "Enchanting Simplicity," devoted to children's books and book illustration. When John and his wife Audrey returned permanently to Philadelphia, he volunteered to help us with book conservation and proceeded to assist our Conservator Denise Fox with acid-free enclosures for rare books and pamphlets of all sorts. John's ready wit as well as his skills will be missed here.

A Memorial will be held at Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, 1515 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, on January 25, 2014 at 11 am.

Above: John with his Babar toy book from the "Enchanting Simplicity" exhibit.

This Month In 1814:  A Look Back At The Athenaeum's Founding Year

Over the next year, we're going to give a month by month account of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia's founding year. Since the first official meeting did not take place until February, we'll use January to look at what occurred prior to the first meeting. 

The Athenaeum founders desired to open a library with reading rooms, but had to find enough subscribers willing to commit to the idea before they could proceed. The first Minute Book of the Athenaeum informs us of these early efforts: 

"Toward the end of 1813, several young men, wishing to establish a set of Reading Rooms in the city of Philadelphia, commenced a subscription for that purpose. Much exertion was used to enlarge the list of subscribers, and an address was prepared and published in order to call the attention of the Publick to the design." 

By the end of January 1814 over 100 subscribers had been obtained and it was decided to move forward with the founding of the institution.  More in February…


Monday-Friday:  9:00am-5:00pm

First three Saturdays of the month: 11:00am-3:00pm (excluding July and August).



219 S. 6th Street

Philadelphia, PA  19106 


The building is accessible to persons with disabilities.  

Group tours and research visits are by appointment only. 


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