Make a Donation Join Mailing List Find Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter Follow Us On Instagram Join Us on LinkedIn Foursquare Follow Us On Pinterest Follow Us On Tumblr YouTube Reviews



The Athenaeum of Philadelphia is one of 16 surviving membership libraries. Some, like the Charleston (SC; 1748), New York Society (1754), and Newport (RI; 1741) libraries date from the 18th century.  The Athenaeum of Philadelphia was established in 1814 as a subscription library, at a time when the free public library system did not exist and collections of books, available for reading or research, were still mostly  limited to institutions and schools or colleges.  Only a small number of individuals could afford to amass a collection of books.  From its beginnings the Athenaeum of Philadelphia emphasized not only its lending collections, but also programs where the members could meet and discuss historical, literary, and cultural topics.   In 1847 the Athenaeum moved into its Renaissance Revival brownstone designed by John Notman.  

Members have the use of both the historical and contemporary collections maintained by the Athenaeum, and are invited to the full range of our programs, most of which are free or offered at a nominal fee.  Furthermore, your membership will support this unique historical organization and help maintain its National Historic Landmark Building.  Become a part of Philadelphia’s rich 19th century history by joining the Athenaeum today.  

Membership Levels

  • Shareholder (Household Membership) : The current price of a share is $500, with annual dues set at $200. Shareholders have full privileges in the organization as well as access to Shareholder-only events.

  • Subscriber (Individual Membership) :  Subscribers to the Athenaeum pay an annual membership fee of $250. Subscribers enjoy full use of the Athenaeum’s lending collection.

  • Young Friends (Individual Membership) :  Young Friends membership is reserved for those individuals who are age 18-35. Annual dues are $75. Young Friends may make full use of the Athenaeum’s lending collection.

Benefit Shareholder Subscriber Young Friends

Use of the Athenaeum's lending collection x x x
Use of the University of Pennsylvania's lending collection  x —— ——
Mail delivery of books x —— ——
Use of American Antiquarian Society full-text collection x x x
Free admission to designated lectures x x x
Free admission to gallery talks x x x
Discounts to workshops and symposia x x x
Free use of wi-fi in the building x x x
Use of the DuBarry Conference Room for meetings x —— ——
Invitation to Annual Meeting and voting privileges x —— ——
Invitations to serve on Athenaeum committees x —— ——
Ability to pass the share along to a family member x —— ——


Contact our Membership Coordinator Alexandria Lang for further information at 215-925-2688 or  

Please choose your membership type below.

Become a Shareholder ($500 Share Price, Annual Dues $200) Dues notices are sent out in February. After purchasing a share, our Membership Secretary will contact you regarding pro-rated dues for the remainder of the current year.

Subscriber ($250 Annual Dues)

Young Friends ($75 Annual Dues)


Additional Contribution

To make an additional contribution check the box below and enter an amount. Amounts entered here are tax-deductible.  The Athenaeum is grateful for your support!


Accepted Credit Cards