Open Data

The American Philosophical Society Library has an active Open Data Initiative. Under this initiative, we (1) identify content in the APS Library that is conducive to being reconfigured as datasets; (2) encourage the use and reuse of the data by opening the data to all, and by easing access to the data.

Current Datasets

Eastern State Penitentiary

These datasets contain data from the three admission books held at the American Philosophical Society Library, including inmate name, crime, sentence, place of origin, race/ethnicity, time in and time out, and comments on moral and educational condition. Some also include notes on previous convictions or progress made while incarcerated.

Available in the APS Digital Library
Available on Github

Benjamin Franklin Post Office Records
These datasets are created from a volume of 372 pages that records receipt and dispatch of all mail in the Philadelphia Post Office between May 25, 1748 and July 23, 1752. Deliveries into the Post Office from out of town were listed, letter by letter, by the names of the addressees, weight and amount due, paid or free. Outgoing mail was simply listed by number of sheets and weight, not by individual letters. The data is presented here in two sets, one for incoming and one for outgoing.

Available in the APS Digital Library
Available on Github

Upcoming Datasets

Philadelphia Indenture Records
The APS Library holds a record of indentured servants and redemptioners coming through the port of Philadelphia during the 1770s. Containing between 4,000 and 5,000 entries, this volume details the terms of servitude including length, skills that will be taught, location where they will live, and often countries from which they came. Also included are the names of the people to which the individuals are being bound. A project is in the works to create datasets from this volume.

See blog post

Aggregate information is recorded for outgoing mail.