Library \\ About

The Phillips Library

The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) is the Museum’s research library. It includes several hundred thousand printed volumes, a linear mile of manuscript collections, as well as thousands of logbooks, account books, diaries, printed ephemera, maps, photo albums and photographs.


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Visiting the Reading Room

The Phillips Library reading room will open to visitors in a controlled capacity beginning July 16, 2020. For the safety of library staff and researchers, appointments will be required, and no more than three researchers will be allowed in the reading room each day.

The collection is the result of the merger of the James Duncan Phillips Library of the Essex Institute with the Stephen Phillips Library of the Peabody Museum of Salem when those two institutions merged to form the Peabody Essex Museum in 1993.

Researcher visiting the Library

The vast collection includes subjects related to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Oceanic, Native American, and other world art and cultures plus subjects related to Salem and Essex County art, architecture, history, and culture.

Examples of major holdings include the Edward Sylvester Morse collection of manuscripts, books, and photographs of Japan and Korea, Salem Witch Trials documents, the Frederick Townsend Ward collection of Chinese materials, an extensive collection of materials on Chinese architecture, the Nathaniel Hawthorne archive, documentation of the Museum’s collection of 17th-19th century architecture, a collection of 18th and 19th century ships logbooks and early maps, the Herwitz collection of modern and contemporary Indian art publications, and many other treasures.

A purple gloved hand holding an old photograph on a black paper page

More than one-third of the Phillips Library collection is unique and another fifteen percent of the collection is rare. The Museum’s new home for the Phillips Library at the PEM Collection Center in Rowley, Massachusetts enables us to, for the first time, provide the highest standards of preservation, care, and protection for the Library collection along with expanded Conservation, Photography, Digitization studios, staff offices, and a very handsome new Reading Room.

An exterior view of a modern grey building with many glass windows and a glass entryway

The Museum makes its research library accessible to students, scholars, and members of the public on a regular drop-in schedule each week and by prior appointment.


Rows of tall metal bookshelves stacked with books
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New librarian comes to town

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PEM Appoints New Head Librarian