Joseph Priestley Online
Suggestions for going to places with manuscript collections

Priestley’s lab being excavated

Priestley’s lab being excavated  

  • Before you can use a manuscript collection you must know where one is.  I have arbitrarily dived places with manuscript collections into two categories.  The first category is colleges and universities.  The second category is non-collegiate institutions.  To see a list of non-college institutions (that also include some collegiate institutions), click here.  Many colleges and universities have original Joseph Priestley documents in their rare book rooms or special manuscript collections.  Pennsylvania's colleges and universities have many Priestley documents and manuscripts.  Pennsylvania State University, Dickinson College, and University of Pennsylvania   have the largest collections in Pennsylvania.  However, many other colleges and universities in Pennsylvania have one or more Joseph Priestley manuscripts.  To find out which colleges or universities have Priestley collections of original manuscripts I suggest going to a college or university and using a search program like First Search.  The other possibility is to go to individual college or university library web sites and search their online catalogs.

  • Once you have found a college or university with Priestley manuscripts then you should read their policies relating to researchers and research.

  • General policies are that you usually must check in most of your possessions in a locker that they provide.  Often you must sign a paper and show photo identification.  You must always use pencil.  Use the college or university library's online catalogue to make a list of books and call numbers that you would like to use, before you go to the library.  Many colleges or universities would like you to call or e-mail them before you go to ensure they will be able to help you on that day.

  • Things that you should probably bring with you for research: a pocket dictionary, pencils, paper, a ruler (in case the college or university does not have book weights), possibly white gloves, and maybe photo copies of Rutt (to see our section about Rutt, click here).   

Last modified: December 3, 2009 * Copyright © 2009 Andrew Burd-Harris