Chinese Chess Pieces
Chinese Chess Pieces
Automaton Chess Player
Automaton Chess Player
Photograph of Morphy and Elkin
Photograph of Morphy and Elkin
Chess Table
Chess Table
Wooden chess set
Wooden chess set
Chess themed bookcase
Chess themed bookcase
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Chess at the Athenaeum of Philadelphia

The game of chess has long been an international pastime. However, the origins of the game are not well documented. Many credit Benjamin Franklin with introducing and promoting the game of chess in America. His essay, "The Morals of Chess," celebrates the social and intellectual nature of chess.
One of the most famous chess players of the 19th century was Paul Morphy. Although he played internationally, Morphy was from New Orleans, Louisiana.

Chess in Philadelphia in the late 19th century was centered on The Athenaeum, and a room on the second floor of the 6th Street building was devoted to this pastime. Several area chess teams played and practiced in the "Chess Room" of The Athenaeum, including the Philadelphia Chess Club which eventually morphed into the Franklin Chess Club. Charles Vezin is recognized as one of the most influential players and instructors of chess in Philadelphia. Many of his students, including Lewis Elkin and Philip P. Randolph, became prominent players in Philadelphia. These men practiced in the "Chess Room" of the Athenaeum of Philadelphia and were sometimes referred to as the "Men of the Athenaeum."
Some items in this exhibit are currently on display in the "Chess Room" and are available for use.

This exhibition was prepared by Dana Byrd.


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