Since 1814, The Athenaeum has been visited by politicians, diplomats, scientists, and literary figures. Our guest book was traditionally called the Record of Strangers: each non-member, or “Stranger” was usually signed in by an Athenaeum member. Below is a searchable index of some of the names that have been indexed from the Record. The full volumes of the Record of Strangers from 1814-2006 may be viewed here.
- The index represents only a small transcribed portion of the names that appear in the Record of Strangers. The full volumes of the Record of Strangers from 1814-2006 may be viewed here. The full volumes are not transcribed or indexed, they are only browsable.
- The Record of Strangers consists of three, four or five columns of data, depending on the year:
- Date, Stranger Introduced, Residence (early 1814)
- Date, Stranger Introduced, Residence, By Whom Introduced
- Date, Stranger Introduced, Residence, Lodgings, By Whom Introduced
- Residence generally consists of a city, county, state, country, or some combination thereof. You will often also see U. S. A. and U. S. N. It appears in these cases that U. S. A. generally does not refer to the country, but rather to the United States Army, with U. S. N. being the United States Navy.
- Lodgings may be the name of a hotel or inn, an address, or private. We have not indexed the Lodgings column.
- Dates in the Record of Strangers may not be exact. Not every entry has a date next to it, and some are difficult to read, such as the difference between ” and 11. In some cases entire pages lack dates. We have recorded the closest prior date we found for each entry. You may view the entire page through the link provided in order to see how the dates appear.
- Information in square brackets [ ] does not appear in the Record of Strangers, but has been added by the Athenaeum for indexing purposes. Examples:
- Nouvelle Orléans [New Orleans, Louisiana]
- Governor [Charles Carnan] Ridgely
- The By Whom Introduced column generally reflects the name of a member who introduced the Stranger to the Athenaeum. We have filled in names from our available membership records. However, please note that we have not found all “by whom introduced” names in our records, so it is possible that some individuals in that column may not have been active members themselves, or our records may be incomplete. We’re still investigating! If you have questions about an Athenaeum member, please contact Natalie Gearin, Membership and Marketing Associate at membership@PhilaAthenaeum.org.
- Strangers have been identified to the best of our ability. Brief bios have links to sources used. Multiple people with the same name may have been alive at the same time, so it is possible that we may have erred in our identification. If you have questions about this index, please contact Jill LeMin Lee, Librarian, and Rob Jagiela, Assistant Librarian at Strangers@PhilaAthenaeum.org.
- We cannot guarantee that every entry line includes the signature of the Stranger. We believe that in some instances the Stranger wrote their name, whereas other entries may have been made by the member who introduced them, or by the librarian. We simply do not know. There are multiple entries on the same day that appear to be in the same handwriting. There are also entries that have what appear to be misspellings; in these cases it is possible that the member wrote the entry, not the Stranger. Other entries may have been written by the Stranger entirely, or with the member signing their name. We do not claim to have the autograph of every stranger who visited.