Hands-On Tours

Turn the pages of a rare book, test the weight of a delicate teacup, read from a manuscript. Created especially for visitors who seek an in-depth and focused look at our collection, Hands-On Tours allow you unparalleled access to rare and important items that are not usually on view to the public. Led by a member of our staff, you’ll spend an hour getting up-close and personal with a variety of treasures related to a particular theme, like founding fathers, love letters, Irish authors, and more. Recommended for adults and children eight and older.

Advance Registration
Hands-On Tours are offered almost every Friday and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Advance registration is strongly recommended, as there are a limited number of spots on each tour and tours without registrants 48 hours in advance will be cancelled. Upon registration, you will be asked to purchase your admission and Hands-On Tour.To register, call (215)732-1600, ext. 123 or e-mail rsvp@rosenbach.org.

Drop-in Visitors
Any open spots on a tour will become available to drop-in visitors on a first-come first-served basis at noon on the day of the tour. If you plan to drop-in for a Hands-On Tour, please call (215)732-1600 and dial “0” to confirm that the tour is being offered.

$5 per person (in addition to the cost of general admission).

Upcoming Hands-on Tours

Hands-On Tour
Friday, August 28, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Mathematician and cleric Charles Lutwidge Dodgson published children’s books under the pen name Lewis Carroll. This tour will explore both the man and the author. More
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, August 30, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
The Rosenbach is well known for the works of James Joyce and Bram Stoker, but the “English Literature” collections include many other notable Irish authors as well. In addition to Ulysses and Dracula we’ll read and handle works by some of these others, and look at their connections and influences extending from Thomas Jefferson to Moby Dick to the Internet. More
EL4 D754e 903MS Holmes Empty House
Hands-On Tour
Friday, September 4, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
The game is afoot to ferret out the realm of detective and spy literature at the Rosenbach. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to explore items including The Mystery of Edwin Drood (Charles Dickens' unfinished novel), an original Sherlock Holmes manuscript, and an album belonging to a female Civil War spy. Synchronize your watches to 1500 hours and join us! More
Hands-On Tour
Friday, September 11, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Even if you’ve never read a line of Charles Dickens’s work, you know some of his creations. In this tour we’ll look at the original portrayals of Oliver Twist, Scrooge, and other memorable characters. Through manuscripts, letters, and other documents we’ll follow their creator’s progress from ambitious unknown to international celebrity. More
Dracula, Dust Jacket. EL3 .S874d 897
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, September 13, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Get up close and personal with Bram Stoker's hand-written notes for the novel as Rosenbach staff discuss what it takes to create an enduring monster. More
Cash & Godshaw, photograph of Adolph Rosengarten. Louisville, Ky, 1862. 2006.674
Hands-On Tour
Friday, September 18, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
From the writings of Abraham Lincoln, to the wartime letters of Col. Alexander Biddle of the 121st Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, to a Confederate children’s textbook, this tour provides a glimpse into the lives and thoughts of those who shaped and survived America’s worst conflict. More
Incun 491p Lisbon pentateuch
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, September 20, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
While Jews themselves were rare in the Americas in the 17th century, word of the possible re-appearance of the Lost Tribes of Israel in the New World spread through the printed word in texts published in London and the Continent during the middle of the century. Religious inclinations of European Christians and Jews, governments with financial aspirations, and linguistic misapprehensions make for a fascinating mix of books that tell a story of cultural misunderstanding in an age of exploration and expansion. We will look at books in English, Latin, Dutch, Hebrew, and Native American languages, but only curiosity is required. More
Hands-On Tour
Friday, October 2, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
From the Canterbury Tales to Ulysses, the Rosenbach’s collection is full of books that have been banned, challenged, or censored. During Banned Books Week, take your rights and the books back into your own hands, discuss the controversies surrounding them, and celebrate your freedom to read. More
George Cruikshank, “Return Again Our England’s Hannibal.”  Hand colored woodcut
Hands-On Tour
Sunday, October 4, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Incomprehensible incantations, mysterious symbols, and sleight-of-hand illusions abound on this tour about the history of magic in print. You’ll be bamboozled by magicians like Hermes Trismegistus and John Dee. Impress your friends with a newfound knowledge of bogus Latin spells and try a beginner’s lesson in “card conjuring.” And along with these enchantments, you’ll get to experience the real magic of a fifteenth century book and an autographed portrait by Houdini in your hands. More
Sarony Studio, Portrait of Marianne Moore. New York, 1924. 2006. 5116
Hands-On Tour
Friday, October 9, 2015 - 3:00pm - 4:00pm
Marianne Moore, like Pablo Picasso, broke free of tradition and reassembled the pieces in a new and sometimes confounding way. In this tour, we will study her letters, clippings and the objects she surrounded herself with to find out more about the sources for her revolutionary and groundbreaking work. More