The main entrance to the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is now open. Van Pelt Library and the Fisher Fine Arts Library are currently open to Penn Card holders, Penn affiliates, and certain visitors. See our Service Alerts for details.


This collection is linked with the School of Social Policy and Practice, formerly the School of Social Work, that was founded over 100 years ago (1908). The Social Work program, situated within the School of Social Policy and Practice, has been identified as one of the oldest and most well-respected in the country. In addition to the primary focus areas, the Penn Libraries purchase materials in the faculty areas of eminence including: child abuse and neglect, criminal justice and mental illness, domestic violence, geographic information systems, gerontology, homelessness, mental health, social impact on the arts, and welfare to work. 

Collection Description

Most of the print collections of interest are found within the HV (social work; social welfare) area but other areas of interest include:

  •     BF (psychology; psychoanalysis)
  •     E (U.S. history and policy; African American history)
  •     HD (nonprofit organizations and organizational behavior)
  •     HM (sociology and social justice)
  •     HN (social history and conditions)
  •     HQ (family; marriage; women; sexuality)
  •     RC (diseases of the brain; psychiatry; disorders; medical policy)

Special Collections

Social work has broad themes of care giving, social justice, human rights, human service, and overall public welfare. The Penn Libraries have several special collections that meet these themes and are worth accessing.

In regards to care-giving, scholars should see Archie J. and Mary S. Hanlan Papers (covers topics about death and caring for the dying); as well as the Jeanne Quint Benoliel Papers (covers documents from the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement) or the Visiting Nurse Association of Greater Philadelphia Records.

Topic of social justice and human rights can be researched in special collections such as the Paul Lowinger Papers (activist and founder of the Institute of Social Medicine and Community Health), or the Allan Solomonow Papers (a Jewish peace activist). There are also collections from several relevant organizations/agencies such as the American Law Institute's Statement of Essential Human Rights Project Records; the Medical Committee for Human Rights Records ; and the Women's Health Concern's Committee Records.

Related to therapy and human services researchers should see collections such as the Margaret Naumburg Papers (proponent of art therapy); or the Vera Dreiser Papers (psychologist).