Q. What is the David Library of the American Revolution?
A. The David Library is a non-profit specialized library dedicated to the study of the American Revolution. It was founded in 1959 by philanthropist Sol Feinstone, and opened at its present location, Buckstone Farm (the former home of Sol Feinstone), in 1974. It is open to the public five days a week.
Q: Why is it called the David Library of the American Revolution?
A: The Library’s founder, Sol Feinstone, named the Library in honor of his grandson, David Golub, who was born developmentally disabled.
Q: Who are typical patrons of the David Library? Is it only for scholars and academics?
A: The David Library welcomes scholars of every stripe and from every level of academic accomplishment. Patrons include historians (both professional and amateur), doctoral candidates working on dissertations, college students, high school students, individuals researching their family histories, and anyone interested in the era of the American Revolution. No one should ever feel they are too inexperienced to make good use of David Library resources.
Q: What are the types of things a visitor can research at the David Library?
A: The David Library’s extensive collection covers American history in the period 1750 – 1800. In this 50-year period, a revolution was won and a nation was born, and the Library has a rich array of information about the time period, including military, political, social and economic history, as well as a great deal of information about the folkways, life ways and culture of the colonies. The Library has a significant number of resources covering those who participated in the Revolution, including the Patriots, Loyalists, Hessians and British, and sources covering others who lived through the Revolution, including African Americans, Native Americans and women. Among the interesting things recent patrons of The David Library have found: recipes used by homemakers in the colony of Virginia, a piece of music composed by a Connecticut soldier, a letter written by General George Washington before the Battle of Trenton, the pension file of an ancestor who fought in the Battle of Brandywine, and the size and material of the buttons on a Hessian uniform. These are only a few of the types of things people can research at the David Library. The collections also include diaries, letters, military service records and numerous other sources with information about the people who fought and lived during and after the American Revolution.
Q: How are the books catalogued?
A: The collection is catalogued in order of acquisition, which is not typical of most libraries (but more common than you might imagine, especially among specialized libraries). However, the whole collection is catalogued alphabetically and by subject on the David Library’s electronic catalogue, accessible via the Library’s web site here.
Q: Is The David Library a lending library?
A: No. The David Library is a “non-circulating” library. Patrons must use Library resources onsite.
Q: When is the Library open?
A: Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 am – 5:00 pm.
Q: What is the size and scope of the collection?
A: The Library holds over 10,000 reels of microfilm, 6,500 books and 2,000 pamphlets. Included in these holdings are primary source materials such as diaries, muster rolls and letters culled from repositories around the world. The Library also owns the Sol Feinstone Collection, approximately 2,500 original Revolutionary-era manuscripts of significant content. The Sol Feinstone Collection is on deposit at The American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia. Visitors to The David Library may view these manuscripts on microfilm.
Q. What are the Library’s educational programs?
A. The Library offers a regular schedule of lectures by major historians and authors in Stone Hall, the beautiful lecture hall in the Feinstone Conference Center adjacent to the Library. David Library lectures are free and open to the public. The Library also awards approximately eight fellowships each year to support the research of advanced scholars. David Library Fellows receive a stipend, 24-hour access to the library, and living accommodations on the library’s campus. Additionally, the Library offers occasional user workshops to help “beginner researchers” make full use of the Library’s resources.
Q: Are there resources in the library for children?
A: The Library has a small collection of history books for children and occasionally holds special events aimed at young audiences. Additionally, the Library welcomes schoolchildren on supervised research field trips organized by their teachers and scheduled in advance with the Library. However, the David Library is not a children’s library.
Q: How is the Library funded?
A: In addition to Sol Feinstone’s original endowment, the Library accepts donations from individuals and foundations.
Q. Are the facilities of The David Library available for rent?
A. Yes, the Rose Gallery and Stone Hall in the adjacent Feinstone Conference Center are available for meetings, seminars and private events. To a limited degree, the grounds are also available for outdoor events. For more information, call (215)493-6776 ext. 100.