Every week, something fun is happening at the German Society of Pennsylvania. Lectures, Panel Discussions,
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The Horner Library and Reading Room

The Joseph P. Horner Memorial Library is both a lending library and a research facility, housed in an original 1888 reading room built for that purpose and recently restored by the Society.  The library houses more than 60,000 volumes, three-quarters are in German.  It is considered the largest private collection of German books in the United States (outside of universities).  

Hours of Operation

 Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:00am - 4:00pm
The library will be open by appointment only in August.

Occasionally, our Librarian is engaged with school groups or meetings, so we strongly encourage you to email or call ahead before stopping by.

If you would like to visit the Library or have an inquiry about our collections, please email librarian@germansociety.org

Library Use Fee Structure

German Society Members Free
High School and Undergraduate College Students $5
All Other Researchers $10
Emailed/Telephoned Research Requests $25/hour (time permitting)

Donation Policy

Due to storage space limitations and the time and resources required for proper cataloging, the Horner Library does not actively solicit book donations.  
The library reserves the right to sell or give away any book donations that it is unable to add to its collections.

Lending Library

Society members can borrow books, audio cassette tapes, and videos from a portion of the Library's holdings.

The lending library comprises books in the GSP main collection published after 1917, including a large variety of German fiction and non-fiction.  Items may be borrowed for a period of four weeks, with the possibility of renewal.

Lending library books are not recorded in our online catalog but are searchable in the paper catalog on the premises.  

While many of the Library's older books, particularly those published before 1918, no longer circulate, visitors may access them on-site with the assistance of Society personnel.

Search the Library catalog

Research Library and German-American Archive
Many of the Library's older books, originally collected for the Lending Library, have become valuable to scholars.  Some books are no longer found elsewhere, while a larger number are now found in only a handful of libraries around the world.

The German-American Archive, begun in 1867, holds a wealth of documents relating to German life in America, reaching back to the earliest German settlement in 1683 in Germantown, PA, now a part of the city of Philadelphia.  

Today the archive is known as the German American Collection.  It includes approximately 10,000 books and pamphlets, and 75 linear feet of manuscript collections pertaining to German-American history and culture.  The records of the German Society itself comprise about 40% of manuscript holdings, including the minutes of membership and directors' meetings reaching all the way back to the founding; and the records of its agency, or Agentur, which coordinated the Society's charitable efforts on behalf of needy German immigrants.  Please click here to learn more about manuscript collections.

A newly updated research guide provides an overview of the library's collections and can be downloaded here in pdf format.

The Library houses an extensive collection of German-American newspapers and periodicals; many of these holdings are described in the above Guide.  Some mid 19th to early 20th century newspapers, especially those published in Philadelphia, are available on microfilm.  Please click here for an inventory of microfilm holdings as a pdf file.

Researchers wishing to use the Archives may also do so by emailing the Librarian at librarian at germansociety dot org.

The Library does not specialize in genealogical materials.  However, some of its holdings may be useful to genealogical researchers.  Advice on available resources, and tips for searching in the online catalog, are contained in the following handout as a pdf file.  Genealogical Resources at the Horner Library

We also encourage you to contact the Genealogical Society of Pennsylvania, as well as other Philadelphia libraries and archives for your research.  Please view a pdf summarizing Genealogical Resources Located Elsewhere.


This space is also available for your special event rental.   

Select photos courtesy of Harald Schrader

German Society of Pennsylvania
611 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA  19123
(P) 215-627-2332
(F) 215-627-5297