Frequently Asked Questions

Drexel University opened its doors on December 17, 1891 as the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry.  Classes began in 1892.  See the Dedication Ceremony program here ( 

Please contact us to request a book. Normally, books are available by the next business day after we receive your request and may be used only in the archives.

Some books located in archives offsite storage are also available from library offsite storage (listed as Off-site Storage under Location in the library catalog). These copies do not need to be used in the archives. To request a book from library offsite storage, use the Request This Item button at the top of the catalog page.

iDEA is a centralized virtual space to access unique digital resources produced by the Drexel community. Administered by the Drexel Libraries, iDEA is committed to providing permanent open access to the digital works of Drexel University. Examples of works in iDEA include theses and dissertations, presentations, and course projects. If you have questions or would like to submit material to iDEA, please contact us.

The Archives is open from 1:00 PM to 5:00 PM Monday through Friday, and by appointment weekday mornings and Wednesday evenings. Our full calendar includes scheduled closures.


If you would like to make an appointment to visit the Archives, please contact us.

The Archives is located in the lower level of Hagerty Library. Our full address is:

Drexel University Archives and Special Collections

W. W. Hagerty Library, Lower Level

33rd and Market Streets

Philadelphia, PA 19104

Many of our collections are partially digitized and a few collections are completely digitized. Please see our Digital Collections page to see what is available online The remainder of our materials have yet to be digitized.  If there's something you'd like to see online, let us know!

The Society of American Archivists defines a finding aid as a "description of records that gives the repository physical and intellectual control over the materials and that assists users to gain access to and understand the materials." Here are the basic parts of a finding aid:

  • a description of the records in a collection, or scope and content note
  • a brief biography or history of the person or group of people who created the records
  • a list of the records in the collection, or inventory

The scope and content note and the historical note help you, the researcher, more fully understand the context in which the records were created.  The inventory (usually a list of folders,  sometimes of boxes or even individual items) helps the user to determine whether or not a particular item or piece of information is likely to appear in the collection. Many of the collections in the University Archives are described by finding aids, which are searchable through the Collections search on our home page. If you have any questions about using finding aids, don't hesitate to ask us!

Check out the Drexel University College of Medicine Archives for more information about the College of Medicine, as well as earlier institutions like the Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania and Hahnemann Medical College.

Walk-in visitors are welcome during our open hours. If you are interested in seeing a particular collection, please contact us in advance so that we can have materials ready for you when you arrive.

The oldest item in our collections dates all the way back to 1115. Our collection of manuscript and printed leaves from books contains pages from the 12th to 18th centuries. The oldest book in our collections is De proprietate sermonum, published in 1478, which is part of our rare books collection. 

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