First, let me say that I love the David Library of the American Revolution!
I was a research fellow at the library several years ago and it was one of the best research experiences of my career. You can’t beat 24-hour access!
Over the years I have given a couple of talks/lectures at the DLAR and attended the annual McNeil Center for Early American Studies picnic.
If you are doing serious research on revolutionary America, or just trying to add some branches to your family tree, the DLAR is a wonderful place to work.
Over at the Journal of the American Revolution, recent DLAR intern Brianna Heverly has written an informative essay on all the library has to offer, including a few insights into some of the collections.
Here is a taste:
I have driven up and down Taylorsville Road my entire life and would frequently pass a building on that road which I knew very little about. I later found out it is the David Library of the American Revolution and this summer I had the privilege of doing an internship there. Before my internship, I had never stepped into the library, nor did I know what it had to offer; once I finished my first day and had but a glimpse of what the library was all about, I knew that more people should know about it and could benefit from their resources. The David Library is a place where everyone is welcome, and provides programs and collections unlike any other to encourage learning about the colonial and Revolutionary time periods.
The David Library of the American Revolution, founded by Sol Feinstone in 1959 in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania, collects material that covers the time period 1750 to 1800. The David Library is a non-profit organization that provides exceptional services to the public. It is open to everyone, including every age and experience level, regardless of whether or not they know about the time period or where to start their research. From students of all levels of education, to authors and members of the general public, the library can help them find both primary and secondary resources needed to strengthen their arguments or to simply satisfy their curiosity of the Revolutionary time period.
A significant number of visitors to the library are interested in family history. The library has primary resources on microfilm and in books to help people find original documents about their ancestors. Others visit the library to explore a topic that they will later develop into an article or book. Visitors are free to explore the library’s multiple resources on their own or with guidance from the staff. Besides a full-time librarian, the library relies on volunteers and interns who are welcoming and willing to help everyone. They have dedicated their time to supporting the library and will do their best to get people the sources they need, from help finding a book to obtaining a clear copy of a document. If a researcher is unfamiliar with using microfilm, the staff will help from start to finish; however, visitors are free to work with the microfilm on their own if they know how. Not everyone helped by the staff walks through the door; the library also receives many phone calls and emails from all over the country, from Maine to California, with research questions that the staff will assist with answering.
Some revisit the library after they finish their research to speak about their findings. Besides being open to the public, the David Library hosts scholarly lectures throughout the year, divided into two series consisting of four to five lectures each. The speakers come to discuss their research about a particular event or study within the time period 1750 and 1800. Each lecture is about forty-five minutes to an hour followed by questions from the audience, after which the library hosts a reception which frequently includes the author’s book sale and signing. Several of the lectures are recorded and are in the process of being uploaded onto the David Library website, which will be advantageous for those who are unable to attend. There are no lectures during the summer, but instead the library shows movies about the time period. Admission for both the lectures and movies are free and everyone in the public is welcome to these events.
The David Library offers a fellowship program that is open to both Ph.D. candidates and postdoctoral candidates who are either working on their dissertation or fine-tuning previous work into a book. The library has hosted fellowship recipients from all over the world including Canada, China and Germany, as well as all over the United States. The most noteworthy aspect of the fellowship is that the fellow is offered onsite residency and given a key to the library, which allows them access at any time of day or night. More information about the process and the program itself can be found on the David Library website.
Collections are, of course, the centerpiece of the David Library. There are a number of different kinds of primary and secondary resources all under the same roof, which makes it a “one-stop shopping” experience. Because the library limits its scope to the short time span of 1750 to 1800, it enables the library to carry a great deal of depth within those fifty years. This time period includes two major military conflicts, the French and Indian War and the American Revolution, as well as the establishment of our first National government, and the library’s resources are focused on those areas. In addition to the military events, there were also a lot of social, political and economic changes that America faced within this time frame, and the library’s primary and secondary sources cover these topics as well.
Read the entire piece here.