This fund was established in 1920 for the acquisition of materials on religion with a bequest from the University of Pennsylvania Library's first professional librarian, James Gaston Barnwell.
He was appointed in 1884 and under his directorship, the dictionary catalog, the forerunner of today's Franklin online catalog, came into being.
In his report to the Provost in 1885, Librarian James G. Barnwell described the attributes of a cataloguer: "A cataloguer should possess a very high order of natural ability, a wide range of general knowledge, familiarity with books as books apart from the literature contained in them, and the ability to write in a very legible hand. A knowledge of one or more foreign languages is a valuable adjunct to these qualifications."
Mr. Barnwell also championed the erection of a proper library building for the collection, which was outgrowing its space in College Hall. His public request for gifts of books to Penn resulted in the donation of more than 50,000 volumes, making it clear that the time had come for a new space.
Today, Penn's Library continues to depend on the generosity of alumni and friends for collection development endowments and for gifts of collections.