The American Historical Collection (AHC), established in 1950, consists of 13,518 books, 18,674 photographs, and other materials related to the American experience in the Philippines and the relationship of the two countries. With the possible exception of the holdings of the U.S. Library of Congress, the AHC is the largest, most diverse, and most complete collection of materials of this kind in the world

The AHC is the primary resource in Manila for official documents and reports from 1898 to 1946, such as the Reports of the US-Philippine Commission (1900-1915), Reports of the Governors-General of the Philippine Islands (1916-1935), Reports of the High Commissioner, the Executive Orders and Proclamations (1901-1933), Reports of the War Department and of the Secretary of War (1898-1924), and other insular government reports.

Equally valuable to the researcher or historian are the thousands of miscellaneous documents – pamphlets, reports, articles, and other items that had been collected – as well as the AHC’s unparalleled files of photographs. These go back to before the U.S. era and include photos of Filipino notables as well as U.S. officials and prominent members of the Manila community in the U.S. era.


In 1950, U.S. Ambassador Myron Cowen, who saw the devastation wrought by the Second World War on many things including the memory of the times preceding it, encouraged the American community to donate books and other materials pertaining to the first half of the 20 th century. His initiative was responsible for the early phase of the collection.

While it could easily have come under Embassy jurisdiction, Ambassador Cowen wanted the library to have a more permanent, and local organization, “as ambassadors come and go.”

It was decided to devolve the library’s maintenance and finances upon the American Association of the Philippines (AAP) Historical Committee to take on the responsibility of overseing the new library. The Committee was comprised of equal number of members appointed by the Ambassador and by the AAP.

Acquisitions, donations, and funds were administered by the American Historical Committee.  

The AHC was first housed at the U.S. Embassy, then above the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Makati. In 1990, a crisis in the life of the Collection was overcome with providential help from the U.S.Library of Congress, which needing space for its own collections, provided financial support for the housing and operation of the library. This assistance continued through 1995, at which time U.S. government support for the AHC was terminated.

With the withdrawal of this support, the American Historical Collection Foundation (AHCF) was created to subsume the American Historical Committee for the purpose of overseeing the Collection and raising funds for its continuation. Under a 1995 directive of then U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte, the AHCF inherited the responsibilities of the American Historical Committee.

In 1995, through an agreement by and between the AAP and the Ateneo de Manila University, the Collection is assured of a permanent life in the intellectual heart of the nation that the Americans helped to create -- at the Rizal Library of the Ateneo.The Rizal Library is committed to preserve the collection, following the high standards it uses when conserving its own holdings. Furthermore, it is committed to facilitate the research of scholars.


Vision and Mission

  • To maintain a unique and exceedingly rich repository of historical information and objects, and a venue for historical research on Philippine history, especially on the period of American hegemony in the Philippines, 1899-1946.
  • To cultivate good understanding, based on mutual knowledge and mutual appreciation among Americans and Filipinos, among international scholars, and among all elements of the Philippine population.
  • To provide students, teachers, and scholars with documentary resources that will enable them to rethink and rewrite Philippine-American relations.
  • To ensure the development, organization, preservation and use of the Collection.



3rd Level Rizal Library Special Collections Building, Ateneo de Manila University, Loyola Heights, Quezon City, Philippines
Tel: (632) 426-6001 loc 5567 • Fax: (632) 426-5961 • Email: • Web:
8:00 AM to 5:00 PM (Monday to Friday); 8:00 AM to 12:00 NN (Saturday)