Library Collections

Many unique and treasured items have made their way to Ryan Memorial Library, and several collections have been created to showcase these one-of-a-kind books, letters, photographs, and more. Our entire collection database can be viewed here; below are the more expansive collections the library owns.

Catechism Collection

The Catechism Collection comprises catechetical materials published before 1960, including texts intended for adults and children. The collection is strongest in English-language materials published in the United States, although there are also works in German, Italian, and Chinese.

Devotional Collection

The Devotional Literature Collection consists of some 300 volumes of works of Catholic devotion intended primarily for the use of lay people. Some were designed for the use of the faithful during Mass; these include prayers often with a Eucharistic theme which could be recited while the priest said Mass in Latin. Others were for private use at home; these include numerous novenas and other prayers especially to the saints. The majority of items in the collection were published between 1850 and 1950. The collection includes manuals for a number of sodalities, confraternities, and other pious societies, as well as works for parish missions.

Fine Arts Collection

This collection of more than 200 paintings includes six portraits by Thomas Eakins. Eakins enjoyed a long and happy relationship with Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. He is said to have bicycled out to the Seminary's campus at Overbrook on Sunday afternoons to relax on the Seminary grounds, talk with the priest-faculty members, and attend Solemn Vespers. On display in the Seminary's Eakins Room are his portraits of Archbishop James Wood, three Seminary professors (Monsignors Patrick J. Garvey, Hugh T. Henry, and James F. Loughlin), another Philadelphia priest (Monsignor James P. Turner - the portrait shown here), and a prominent Catholic layman (James A. Flaherty).

Holy Card Collection

The Holy Card Collection, numbering over 1000 cards dating from the nineteenth century to the present and printed in the United States, Canada, France, Italy, Belgium, and other countries, provides an excellent primary resource for Catholic spirituality. The cards are arranged in broad subject areas (e.g. Crucifixion; Our Lady of Fatima; Male Saints).

Liturgical Collection

The Liturgical Books Collection consists of some 300 volumes of liturgical texts published between 1850 and 1960. The collection includes missals, breviaries, rituals, pontificals, and other official texts used in the liturgy. These older liturgical books (almost all in Latin) are often of interest not only for their textual content but also for their elaborate leather bindings and beautiful illustrations.

Rare Books Collection

The Rare Book Collection consists of over 17,000 volumes ranging from the earliest days of printing through the twentieth century, as well as several manuscripts. The collection offers a rich resource for the study of: Systematic Theology (particularly Patristics), Canon Law, and Church History (particularly the history of the Church in the United States, with a significant amount of anti-Catholic material). There are smaller holdings in Sacred Scripture, Classics, and early American History