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Penn State University Libraries

About PA's Past: Digital Bookshelf at Penn State

Significance of the Pennsylvania History (Beaver) Collection

The Pennsylvania history collection targeted for this preservation microfilming project, known in the Libraries as the Beaver Collection, represents the nucleus of the Libraries’ strong collection in Pennsylvania. The collection consists primarily of Pennsylvania county histories, atlases, and Civil War regimental histories. It is a principal source for scholarly researchers nationwide, and supports graduate and undergraduate history programs at the University.

The Beaver collection came to the University Libraries in the early 1930’s, when the private library of General James Addams Beaver was acquired and moved to the University Libraries. Beaver was very prominent Centre County son. He practiced law in Bellefonte until the Civil War broke out. He served as first lieutenant of the Bellefonte Fenciblies and eventually took command of the Pennsylvania Volunteers, most of whom were recruited from Centre County . After the war he returned to Bellefonte to practice law. In 1873, he was elected to the Board of Trustees of the then Pennsylvania State College, serving in that capacity until 1882. From 1887-1890, he was Governor of the state of Pennsylvania ; from 1898-1914, he again served on the Board of Trustees of the Pennsylvania State University ; and from 1906-1908 he was acting President of the University.

In 1917, the University Libraries established the Beaver Memorial Library Fund in memory of James Addams Beaver’s accomplishments at the Pennsylvania State University and in the state of Pennsylvania . The library endowment fund continues to be used for purchasing books in Pennsylvania history.