Special Collections

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.

For more information about these collections contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at 412.622.3114 or info@carnegielibrary.org.

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:

  • 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

Digital Collections

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.


Industrial Standards

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.


Topographic Maps

  • Pennsylvania Topographic Maps
  • A limited number of topographic maps of various scales for locations around the United States are also available.

Please contact the Reference Services Department for additional details: 412.622.3175 or info@carnegielibrary.org.

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.

Please contact the Pennsylvania Department for additional details: 412.622.3154 or padept@carnegielibrary.org.

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.

Oral Histories


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.

Please contact Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh at 412.622.3114 or info@carnegielibrary.org for more information regarding these collections.

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