David Library Collection Moving To Philly, Property To Be Sold

The David Library property in Upper Makefield. Credit: David Library

A priceless collection of historic documents will move from a bucolic farmstead in Upper Makefield to the American Philosophical Society’s historic headquarters in Philadelphia. 

On Thursday, the David Library of the American Revolution, which is located off River Road not far from Washington Crossing State Park, announced it would be moving its comprehensive collection of historic materials to the newly-formed David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society, which is based near Independence Hall, the National Constitution Center, the new Museum of the American Revolution and other sites important to the founding of the United States. 

The new center at the American Philosophical Society, an organization founded by Benjamin Franklin to provide useful knowledge through research and collections, on 5th Street in the city will not only expand access to the David Library of the American Revolution’s documents and artifacts but also digitize them. 

Leadership at the David Library said in a statement the center will continue normal operations in Upper Makefield until the end of the year. Once the library closes, relocation of the collection will begin. 

“For the David Library to fulfill its potential to be the pre-eminent institution for scholarship and study of American history in the era of the American Revolution, the Board of Trustees determined that we needed a strong and distinguished institutional partner. In the American Philosophical Society, we think we have found the best partner possible. We are sad to leave Bucks County, the David Library’s home since its founding in 1959, but we are excited to join the APS in Philadelphia, the city where the United States of America began, and we look forward to our future as the David Center,” said Dr. James Linksz, the president of the David Library. 

“This new partnership allows the David Library of the American Revolution to preserve that mission while leveraging professional, financial, and technological resources at American Philosophical Society that will expand the David Library’s reach and impact,” said American Philosophical Society Executive Officer Robert M. Hauser.

The future of the 118-acre property the David Library occupies is uncertain. Roughly 52.5 acres are already protected from development as part of the Bucks County Agricultural Land Preservation program.

“With that restriction, the entire property will be offered for sale and the proceeds will help to fund future programming and collections care at the David Center for the American Revolution at the American Philosophical Society,” the statement from the organization said. 

“In an era of tight budgets and uncertainty about the future of some of our most venerable historical organizations, this collaboration will make the David Center a powerhouse of scholarship on the American Revolution.  With the 250th anniversary of the nation fast approaching, this is definitely a case of 1 + 1 = 3,” said Dr. R. Scott Stephenson, the president and CEO of the Museum of the American Revolution. 

Stephenson noted that he was a former research fellow at both the David Library and the American Philosophical Society and he is “incredibly excited about this partnership.” 

The David Library collection holds millions of rare and important documents, microfilms, and other artifacts including original letters and journals from George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, and John Adams. The collection has a strong focus on the American Revolution era. 

About the author

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield

Tom Sofield has covered news in Bucks County for five years for both newspaper and online publications. In 2012, Tom was honored at the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association Foundation's Keystone Press Awards for his coverage of President Obama's visit to Falls Township in 2011. When he's not covering news in the area, Tom enjoys checking out the newest restaurants and bars, exploring forgotten places of industry in the area, going to local parks and spending time with his friends and family. If there's one thing you should know about Tom, he is a local news junkie through and through. Email: Phone: 215-431-1001