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PHE foundation of the present library was laid in the year 1731 ; a
period when Philadelphia afforded little assistance to the inquie ries of the studious. A number of gentlemen having raised the fum of one hundred pounds by subfcription a small library was formed upon principles the best calculated to diffeminate knowledge: the books were not, as in many of the public libraries of Europe, confined to the apartments, but the subscribers were allowed to carry them home for a reasonable space of time.
The plan soon became popular; accessions to the number of members took place, and the stock of books was annually increased by purchases at the company's expense, and liberal donațions from persons both at home and abroad.
The then proprietaries of Pennsylvania appear to have taken a patriotic pleasure in the encouragement of the plan. Besides several valuable donations, they granted a charter of incorporation in the
A fpirit of literary improvement made its way among all classes of peque ple, and the philanthropy of the great and amiable character* who fuggefted the plan, was gratified by tracing the books as well into the hands of the opulent, with whom literature is sometimes no more than one of the ornaments of civil life, as among those to whom it renders a more subftantial benefit. Letters, while they employ the leisure of the artist, reconcile him to his labour ; by removing grosser relaxations they promote his health, while they enlarge bis mind; and prolong his life, while they teach him to enjoy it.
* Doctor Franklin,
The respectable and intelligent character of the latter class of people in Philadelphia and its environs, cannot be referred to a more probable cause, than the habits of reading promoted by this institution.
The great utility and success of this measure, occasioned the formation of other libraries upon similar principles. But as it appeared more conducive to the interests of literature, to be possessed of one large, than of several smaller collections of books, coalitions gradually took place among them, till the Amicable, the Affociation and the Union Companies were blended with the Library Company of Philadelphia, the title conferred by the charter.
Since this event, which took place in the year 1769, the members and the property of the company have continued to increase : the former being nearly seven hundred in number. The number of volumes, exclusive of nearly four thousand, in the Loganian Library, now annexed to this institution ; at present, amounts to about fourteen thousand five hundred; the felection of which, has in general been calculated to promote the more important interests of society. And the ftock of books is continually increased by occasional donations, annualimportations and purchases of most of the American productions of merit.
Some valuable machines and apparatus for the purposes of natural philosophy, &c. and a variety of curious artificial and natural productions also belong to the company, and are deposited in their apartments.
Besides the collection, the personal property, consists in some public, stock; the sale of shares, which since the year 1793 have been fixed at forty dollars, and the annual payments which since the year 1795, have been fixed at two dollars from each member. The real estate of the inftitution, consists of the lot and buildings, where the Philadelphia and Loganian libraries are kept.
The members hold the property as tenants in common, and dispose of their shares by will or deed; but the affent of the Directors, as well in such cases as in case of an original purchase, is previously necessary
-a' restriction early adopted, in order, as much as possible, to prevent improper persons from having access to a collection of a nature fo liable to injury
Ten Directors and a Treasurer are annually elected by the members : the Directors appoint a Secretary and a Librarian,--for the respective powers and duties of whom, the reader is referred to the charter and the subsequent laws and regulations.
OHN PENN, THOMAS PENN, and RICHARD PENN,
Esquires, true and absolute proprietaries of the province of Pennsylvania, and counties of Newcastle, Kent, and Sussex, upon Delaware: To all to whom these presents shall come, greeting, Whereas Benjamin Franklin, Robert Grace, Anthony Nicholas, Preamble. Thomas Cadwalader, William Coleman, Thomas Godfrey, Henry Pratt, Benjamin Paschall, Joseph Breintnall, John Jones, jun, Samuel Hale, William Parsons, Nicholas Caffel, Francis Richardson, William Maugridge, David Bush, Thomas Hopkinson, Philip Syng, Jacob Duché, Evan Morgan, Joseph Stretch, John Paschall, Nicholas Scull, Thomas Green, Hugh Roberts, Rees Lloyd, John Roberts, Richard Standley, John Nicholas, John Sober, Charles Read, Daniel Harrison, James Morris, Thomas Shaw, John Read, Joshua Richey, James Hamilton, William Plumsted, John Bard, Samuel Morris, John Stamper, Samuel Norris, John Mifflin, John Langdale, Samuel Coates, Samuel Rhoads, Joseph King, Alexander Graydon, James Merrywether, Anthony Morris, jun. Tobias Griscom, Charles Willing, Isaac Williams, William Allen, Joseph Peters, Richard Peters, Thomas Clay, Phineas Bond, Israel Pemberton, jun. Robert Greenway, William Crofthwaite, William Callender, George Emlen, jun. Isaiah Warner, Tench Francis, James Bingham, Charles Meredith, Samuel M‘Call, Hugh Davy, Amos Strettell, Benjamin Shoemaker, Joseph Hatton, Andrew Hamilton, Thomas Bond, and William Peters, have, at a great expense, purchased a large and valuable collection of useful books, in or. der to erect a library for the advancement of knowledge and literature, in the city of Philadelphia ; Now know ye, That we Motives to being truly sensible of the advantage that may accrue to the people of this province, by fo useful an undertaking, and being willing to encourage the same, Have given and granted, and by
Names of the
these presents do, for us, our heirs and sueceffors, give and grant, That the said Benjamin Franklin, Robert Grace, Anthony Nicholas, Thomas Cadwalader, William Coleman, Thomas Godfrey, Henry Pratt, Benjamin Pafchall, Joseph Breintnall, John Jones jun. Samuel Hale, William Parsons, Nicholas Caflel, Francis Richardson, William Maugridge, David Bush, Thomas Hopkinson, Philip Syng, Jacob Duché, Evan Morgan, Joseph Stretch, John Paschall, Nicholas Scull, 'Thomas Green, Hugh Roberts, Rees Lloyd, John Roberts, Richard Standley, John Nicholas, John Sober, Charles Read, Daniel Harrison, James Morris, Thomas Shaw, John Read, Joshua Richey, James Hamilton, William Plumsted, John Bard, Samuel Morris, John Stamper, Samuel Norris, John Miffin, John Langdale, Samuel Coates, Samuel Rhoads, Joseph King, Alexander Graydora James Merrywether, Anthony Morris, jun. Tobias Griscom, Charles Willing, Isaac Williams, William Allen, Joseph Peters, Richard Peters, Thomas Clay, Phineas Bond, Israel Pemberton, jun. Robert Greenway, William Crofthwaite, William Callendet, George Emlen, jun. Isaiah Warner, Tench Francis, James Bingham, Charles Meredith, Samuel M Call, Hugh Davy, Amos Strettell, Benjamin Shoemaker, Joseph Hatton, Andrew Hamilton, Thomas Bond, and William Peters, and such other persons as Íhall hereafter be admitted, or become members of The Library Company of Philadelphia, according to the laws and constitutions of the faid company, hereafter to be made, be, and forever here
after shall be, by virtue of these presents, one body corporate and Name of politic in deed, by the name of The Library Company of Philadel
phia ; and them by the name of The Library Company of Philadelphia, one body politic and corporate in deed and in name, we do for us, our heirs and successors, fully creatė, constitute and confirm by these presents; and that by the name of The Library Company of Philadelphia, they shall have perpetual succession ; and that they, by the name of The Library Company of Philadelphia, be, and at all times hereafter shall be, persons able and capable in law, to have, hold, receive, and enjoy lands, tenements, rénts, liberties, franchises, and hereditaments, in fee simple, or for term of life, lives, years, or otherwise; and also goods, chattels, and
other things, of what nature, kind or quality foever. And also Power to to give, grant, let, sell, or assign, the same lands, tenements, hold lands, hereditaments, goods, and chattels; and to do and execute all
other things about the same, by the name aforesaid : And alsó, that they and tħeir succeffors, by the name of The Library Coma
the compa. ny.
Power to mtet and
pany of Philadelphit; be, and shall be; for ever Kerčaftet, personis able and capable in law, to fue and be sued, plead and be impieaded, Power to answer and be answered unto, defend and be defended, in all or any of the courts; or other places, and before any judges, justices and other persons whatsoever, in all manner of actions, suits, complaints, pleas, caufes and matters whatsoever, and of what nature or kind foever. And that it shall and may be lawful to, and for the faid Library Company of Philadelphia, and their fucceffors, for ever hereafter, to have one common feal for their to have use, in their affairs; and the fame at their will and pleasure to seal, change and alter: And for the wel governing and ordering the affairs of the said company, we do, for us, our heits; and sucessors, further grant, that it fhall and may be lawful for the said com. pany, and theit fucceffors, to affemble and meet together on the make laws. first Monday in May, in every year, and at such other times as there shall be occasion, at their library, or fome ocher convenient plaće, dúe' and public notice being given at least twenty days before the times of such meetings; not only of the day, hour and place, of such meeting, but of the cause thereof, and of the matters to be transacted at such meeting. And that they, the said company, or one fourth part of them at least, being so Quorum... met, in person, or by proxy duly constituted in writing, shall have full power and authority from time to time, to make, constitute, and establish such laws, statutes, orders and constitutions, as shall appear to them, or the major part of them, to be good and useful, honest and necessary, according to the best of their udgment and discretion, for the government, regulation, and direction of the Library Company, and every member thereof; and for the appointing and regulating the election or nomination of Directors, Treasurer, Librarian, Secretary, and such, and so many other officers as they shall think fit; and for limiting and appointing their trust and authority; and for the admitting new members; and to do all things concerning the government, estate, goods, lands, revenues, as also all the business and affairs of the said company. All which laws, statutes, orders, and constitutions, so to be made as aforesaid, shall be binding on binding. every member, and be from time to time inviolably observed, according to the tenor and effect of them, provided that they be not repugnant or contrary to the laws of England, or this government. Provided always, That for the increase and preservation of the said library, every member of the said company fhall and do pay into the hands of the faid company's Treasurer, for
Laws SO" made, to be