Library \\ About

The Phillips Library Reading Room

The roots of the Peabody Essex Museum date to the 1799 founding of the East India Marine Society. Membership was limited to those “such as have actually navigated those seas about or beyond the Cape of Good Hope or round Cape Horn.” The society’s charter included a provision for the establishment of a “cabinet of natural and artificial curiosities,” which is what we today would call a museum. Society members brought to Salem a diverse collection of objects from all over the world, including Asia, Africa, Oceania, India, and the northwest coast of America. In addition to objects, the bylaws specifically stated the intent of the society to collect “books of history, voyages, travels and of navigation and new and correct charts,” and “valuable and scarce publications in any language.” These collections became what is known today as PEM’s Phillips Library.


The Phillips Library Reading Room is now closed through spring 2018. Please check this website for updates and further information.

Hours & Information

The Phillips Library will be moving from its temporary facility in Peabody to a state-of-the-art facility in Rowley, Massachusetts. This move is part of the Peabody Essex Museum's plan to improve storage conditions for its museum and library collections. Additional details and information may be found HERE.

In order to carry out the move, the Library and Reading Room are now closed and all access to the collection of books and manuscripts is suspended through spring 2018. Inquiries can be sent to, though response time may be delayed. We regret any inconvenience or hardship this may cause to researchers.


Visiting Researchers

The Phillips Library Reading Room is now closed through spring 2018. Inquiries can be sent to



The collections of the Phillips Library consist of manuscripts, books, pamphlets, maps, charts, photographs and documents created for personal, business, legal, artistic, didactic and scholarly use.


Research Fellowships

The Phillips Library is pleased to announce the availability of a Francis E. Malamy Fellowship.

collections \\ Online Collections

Enjoy our growing number of Phillips Library Online Collections



Welcome to PHILCAT, the Phillips Library online catalog.