Research in the Collections

Founder’s Hall welcomes all researchers, from “traditional” academics to students, National History Day participants, neighborhood residents, alumni, and all with an interest in the collections. The Stephen Girard artifact collection, Stephen Girard library, Girard College architecture and Girard College Legacy collections are open to researchers by appointment during business hours. Please contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources, to schedule an appointment.

Researchers interested in the Stephen Girard Papers should visit the American Philosophical Society, which maintains a microfilm copy of the papers and has more extensive reading room facilities and hours.

For student record searches or genealogical research on an ancestor who attended Girard, please see “Student Archives Search” below.

Student Archives Searches

At no cost, we can confirm by email whether a student attended Girard College and their dates of entry and departure. Please contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources.

We offer a fee-based research service for descendants interested in further information about former Girard College students. This service is primarily designed to assist family genealogists with a former student’s home addresses, parents’ names, etc. Records vary by era and by student, and while student archive searches will typically yield several standard documents relating to a student’s admission to and departure from the school, there is no guarantee a search will find large amounts or certain types of records for any individual.

To order a search, please download and complete the Student Archive Search form and return it by mail or email, along with your check made payable to “Girard College.”

Online Collections Catalog

The Historical Collections Database contains records for the Stephen Girard decorative arts, papers, and books, and much of the Girard College History Collections. Additional segments of the historical collections will be added to the catalog as they are completed, if you have questions or can’t find what you are looking for, contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources.

Digitized Resources

Historic publications digitized by Girard College can be found on the Girard College Historical Collections page on the Internet Archive (archive.org); this currently includes all yearbooks published 1930-1979 and annual reports not digitized elsewhere.

Many other institutions have also digitized publications about Stephen Girard and Girard College, including many annual reports.  The Forerunner’s Hall museum has created lists of these materials available through Internet Archive and Hathitrust Digital Library.

Stephen Girard Letter Index

The incoming and outgoing letters in the Stephen Girard papers were indexed in the early 20th century by sender, recipient and topic. PDFs of the scanned cards can be downloaded from Google Drive. The Stephen Girard Papers are available on microfilm to scholars at the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia.

Rights & Reproductions

On-site researchers may take their own digital photos for reference/research purposes, with the permission of the staff. Images for off-site researchers, publication images, and permissions to publish are available according to this fee schedule. Please contact Kathy Haas, Director of Historical Resources, to request images and/or permissions.