Library Collections

Photographic ID of Elder Robert Wagan, Centennial International Exhibition, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1876. Courtesy, The Winterthur Library, The Edward Deming Andrews Memorial Shaker Collection.

Once he established the Winterthur Program in 1952, Henry Francis du Pont realized that Staff, Faculty, and Fellows would need a library to sustain their scholarship on the object collections. Under the leadership of Frank Sommers, the Library collected rare books, manuscripts, and secondary works at a time when these items were still available and affordable.

The Winterthur Museum’s Library is now the finest decorative arts library in the United States. Internationally recognized for its depth and quality, it continues to grow as collectors, bibliophiles, and generous donors add extraordinary things, singly and in batches—such as the Byrdcliffe Papers, the Stickley papers, and the John and Carolyn Grossman Collection. While the majority of the object collections end about 1860, the Library collections extend into the 1930s.

Fellows depend on the Library and it is integrated into the coursework taught at the Museum. Learning at Winterthur is an extraordinary experience. The Fellows’ modern classroom is located in the Library and Research Building. Classes flow in ways that are impossible to duplicate at other institutions, even in major metropolitan centers where seeing something might mean a cross-town trip. Students and teachers frequently move from the classroom to collections, merging theory, text, context and things.

Unlike the general public, Fellows have borrowing privileges in the main stacks and may use the reading room 24 hours a day. The rare book, printed ephemera, and manuscript collections are open during normal hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday—Friday.

For more on the collections of the Winterthur Library, please look at the Museum’s Library web site.



Winterthur Program in American Material Culture
student in library

Sarah LaVigne (’11) studying in the Library.