Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh holds many rare and unique collections of historical importance, especially those that illuminate the rich cultural heritage of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania. These historical collections are held at the Main Library in Oakland, as well as in neighborhood libraries throughout the City of Pittsburgh.
Allegheny City Historic Reading Room
Located at CLP – Allegheny – a collection of rare materials dedicated to the history of Allegheny City and the North Side.
Archival Collections – Western PA & Pittsburgh Archives
The Archival Collections at CLP – Main cover many subjects and individuals important to the cultural history of Western Pennsylvania. The collections include institutional records, personal and institutional scrapbooks, manuscripts, personal papers, and historic photographs. Our Western PA and Pittsburgh archives are detailed as follows:
- Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh & Carnegie Museum Archives: Institutional records and personal papers from trustees, administrators, researchers, educators and benefactors of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Museum from 1890 to the present.
- General Archival Collection: Among these historical treasures are the Isaac Craig Papers pertaining to Fort Pitt, Pittsburgh Board of Education Archives, Liberty Tunnel Archives, a collection of letters and papers on the Whiskey Insurrection (1790-1800), and information on Pittsburgh City government.
Art and Architecture
Housed in the Reference Department at CLP – Main, the Pittsburgh Art, Artist, and Architecture files contains catalogs, mounted pictures, magazine and newspaper clippings, and other ephemera unique to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The index card files not only serve as the first stop for your research, but also contain small clippings for topics that do not have a full vertical file.
With thousands of files and cards addressing the subjects of the art, artists, architects, and architectural heritage of the Pittsburgh area, the collection offers coverage from circa 1920-2000. This resource also includes full runs of the Associated Artists of Pittsburgh Annual Exhibition Catalogs, as well as the Carnegie International Exhibition Catalogs.
More about these collections:
Children’s Department Special Collections
- Materials for Teachers
- Rare Books
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is working to digitize content from the collections and make it available on the internet. Digitized volumes and photographs are accessible on Historic Pittsburgh, digital collections on POWER Library: PA Photos And Documents, and 19th & 20th Century American railroad journals on Internet Archive.
This project is made possible in part by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services and through Library Access Funds administered by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, Department of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf, Governor.
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh maintains a collection of almost 8800 ANSI (American National Standards Institute) standards from all of ANSI’s constituent members. ANSI is the primary organization for fostering the development of technology standards in the United States. ANSI works with industry groups and is the U.S. member of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh maintains a historic collection of over 26,000 British Standards from the British Standards Institute from the early 1900s through the early 2000s. This collection also includes many of our ISO standards.
- British Standards/ISO – A full index is available at the Reference Services Department.
Local History and Genealogy Collections
The Pennsylvania Department at CLP – Main specializes in local history and genealogy research.
- Pennsylvania Topographic Maps
- A limited number of topographic maps of various scales for locations around the United States are also available.
Historical Maps of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania
- This collection includes maps showing the development of the city of Pittsburgh and other areas in Western Pennsylvania. The collection also includes warrantee atlases documenting early landowners, which are helpful in genealogical research.
Music and Musicians
The Music Collection of Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh includes numerous historical collections, files, and indexes that cover all aspects of music, including material related to music and musicians in the Pittsburgh area. Books, scores, periodicals, and scrapbooks from the libraries of 19th and 20th century Pittsburgh musicians form a historical base for the collection.
- Historic Lawrenceville – Stories from our neighbors, collected in collaboration with the Lawrenceville Historical Society.
- The Maurice Levy Oral History of Music in Pittsburgh Collection – consists of more than 300 interviews that include a wide variety of people in Pittsburgh involved with music in the areas of jazz, classical, popular, folk, and traditional.
The Pittsburgh Photographic Library (PPL) is a unique collection of historic images documenting life in the Pittsburgh area. A project of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, its purpose was to highlight the redevelopment of Pittsburgh in the 1950s. The collection has grown in size and scope since coming to the Carnegie Library in 1960. The PPL now offers over 57,000 photographs featuring important Western Pennsylvania places, significant milestones and extraordinary people. More about this collection:
West End Historical Collection
Built in 1899, the West End Library received historic designation from the Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation in 2015. It is credited with holding the first children’s storytime in Pittsburgh and possibly the country.
These archives were established in 2015, and are not traditional. Not all of the materials are technically “historic,” though many are historical copies of original documents. The collection was organized with the intent to aid and inform researchers about this neighborhood.