The Life of the Library

5460 books were witness to the Battle of Gettysburg with only about a third of those books surviving to present day.

Their first location, where they witnessed the Battle of Gettysburg was in Penn Hall. The Phrenakosmian and the Philomathaean Society Libraries were located on the first floor of Pennsylvania Hall. The reading rooms located on opposite ends of the Fourth Floor. The Main College Library was located on the second story (what we now call the 3rd floor) across from the campus Chapel.

The literary societies would have managed their own libraries and their bookplates indicated alcove and shelf numbers, to help the members keep the books in the right location. In the Main college library there was a part time librarian to help keep the books properly on their shelves.

The Linnaean Association Library was located in Linnaean Hall along with its artifact collections.  A Salutary Influence by Charles Glatfelter, mentions that the college sought financial help from the government to cover the cost of battle damage for both Pennsylvania and Linnaean Halls. This means that the Penn Hall libraries as well as the Linnaean Association Library were witnesses to battle.

View of Glatfelter Hall Library in 1889

In 1898, “Recitation Hall” now Glatfelter hall, was built with space for each Literary societies’ Meeting Halls and a new library for the Main College library’s book collection. The college increased investment in the library, hiring a full time librarian, Sallie Krauth, and joined the American Library Association in 1909. This is where all the books were located until 1929 when Schmucker Memorial Hall was built. Like Trustee J.C. Baker, Reverend Jeremiah Zimmerman, Class of 1873 and College Trustee learned that the College Library needed more books and donated 75,000 books to the Schmucker Library.

Schmucker Memorial Hall was the first building built with the sole purpose of being the library. By this time the Phrenakosmian and the Philomathaean Literary Societies had disbanded, in 1924, so their collections were absorbed by the Main College Library and moved over to Schmucker Memorial Library with the rest of the Library’s Collection. Schmucker Memorial hall underwent construction in 1962 that nearly doubled its size.

Bookplates changed as well, reflecting the official name change from Pennsylvania to Gettysburg College in 1921. The books that came from the Phrenakosmian and the Philomathaean Libraries retained indicators on their bookplate of their previous ownership.

Schmucker Memorial Library was the home to these books for over 50 years. In 1981 they moved to the Musselman Library. At the time of this move many of the Phrenoksmian, Philomathaean, and original Pennsylvania College books were still in circulation in the main library.

Musselman Library

Starting in 2019, with this project, the witness books have mostly made their way to Special Collections where they are kept in secure, climate-controlled storage. They can be searched on the MUSCAT Plus and used in the Special Collections and College Archives Reading Room on the 4th floor of Musselman Library.