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The Graduate Program - Features

The Committee System

Each graduate student initially receives an assigned advisor and subsequently forms an advisory committee of three faculty members who counsel the student on course selection and exam fields. The committee system encourages breadth in training while assisting students to create individualized programs.

A Small Community

The Penn graduate program in history is deliberately small and tailored to individual needs. Both faculty and students take pride in promoting collegiality and camaraderie. Graduate students at Penn, through Clio: The History Graduate Student Group, the Graduate Student Center, and other more informal means, have created a community that is notably supportive of student concerns.

Philadelphia offers a rich variety of activities to provide a break from academic pursuits. LibertyNet provides information and links for museums, attractions and the performing arts as well as sports, radio and TV, newspapers and magazines, restaurants, and more.

For more information on the campus and city, and some of the resources availble to graduate students, please see Penn's viewbook on graduate student life.

Historical Resources at Penn

The resources for historical study at Penn extend far beyond the boundaries of the Department of History. Historians of note can be found in most of the other eleven schools on campus, including:

History graduate students at Penn are also invited to join faculty seminars and colloquia organized by a variety of affiliated Penn research centers, forums, and institutes. Many of these centers offer special lectures, courses, and occasionally aid packages that are of interest to History graduate students.

Scholars with strong historical interests can be found in other School of Arts & Sciences departments and programs, including:

Many faculty members from these departments take an active part in the History Graduate Program at Penn and regularly serve on student advisory committees. Moreover, the Penn Department of History maintains close cooperative ties with history faculty at nearby colleges and universities.

Finally, the Department spearheads the unique Ethnohistory Program, which allows graduate students in History to be engaged in a multidisciplinary concentration allowing for mastery in anthropological and historical methods and issues.

Penn Libraries

The Penn Libraries include some of the oldest academic libraries in the country and their collections are particularly valuable to history students. Special collections at the libraries include areas of concentration in classics, history, linguistics, literature, the history of science, religion, anthropology and archeology, with emphasis often on primary sources.

For example, the Henry C. Lea Library, part of the Rare Book & Manuscript Library, collects primary materials for the study of the late medieval and early modern period. The Rare Book & Manuscript Library holds in total over 250,000 printed books, over 10,000 linear feet of manuscript collections, and over 1,500 codex manuscripts.

For the study of European History, the library possesses most of the important serial publications of documents issued in England, France, Spain, Italy and Germany. For U.S. History, extensive collections of federal, state, and municipal documents are available. For the study of Asian History, the library contains one of the most complete collections of South Asian materials in the U.S. as well as extensive holdings in Chinese and Japanese sources.

In addition, the Penn Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library holds approximately 200,000 volumes, including 32 (17 Hebrew and 15 Latin) incunabula and over 8,000 rare printed works, mainly in Hebrew, English, German, French, Yiddish, Arabic, Latin, and Ladino.

A City of Resources

Philadelphia provides not only an amenable and affordable place to live for graduate students, but also an unparalleled constellation of historical museums, libraries, and archives. In addition, there are many historical resources in the city and its environs that afford fine opportunities for original research.

  • The Historical Society of Pennsylvania possesses extensive collections of manuscripts dealing with both the American colonial and national periods, including transcripts of important documentary material from English sources.
  • The Library Company of Philadelphia houses a large collection of European and American books, pamphlets, periodicals, and publications of societies, extending back to the eighteenth century.
  • The Free Library of Philadelphia has extensive holdings of government publications.
  • The American Philosophical Society has important historical manuscripts and pamphlets.
  • The Franklin Institute maintains a library of technical literature that is particularly valuable in the field of science.
  • The collections of the Chemical Heritage Foundation include instruments and apparatus, rare books, fine art, and the personal papers of prominent scientists, all related to the chemical and molecular sciences.
  • The College of Physicians of Philadelphia Historical Library is one of the world's premier research collections in the history of medicine. The unique holdings of the library include 411 incunables (books printed before 1500), an extensive collection of manuscripts and archives, and a comprehensive collection of 19th and early 20th-century medical journals.
  • The Presbyterian Historical Society is headquarted in Philadelphia and serves as both the national archives and historical research center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

See Also

Special Programs

Graduate students in history at Penn can also benefit from a number of special programs. They include:

  • The opportunity to concentrate in the Ethnohistory Program, a multidisciplinary effort that trains students in both Anthropology and History.
  • The opportunity to attend the special seminars of the McNeil Center for Early American Studies, a leading forum for new research in the field.
  • The opportunity to participate in the women's history component of the graduate program, taking advantage of the vast resources on Women, Gender Studies, & Sexuality at the University.
  • The opportunity for those who focus on African Studies to work with a department offering particular strengths.
  • The opportunity to concentrate in history and culture, political economy, and international relations in a curriculum that includes team-taught courses in these areas.
  • Certificate in World History