Chamber of Commerce of West Philadelphia Records

Collection ID: 
Acc. 488
Date: 
1939-1980
Footage: 
5 cubic feet
Collecting Area: 

 

HISTORICAL NOTE

The Chamber of Commerce of West Philadelphia, a branch of the Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia, was founded in 1939 by a group of local businessmen and women led by Harry O. J. Childs. The group represented companies doing business in the district, comprising all of Philadelphia west of the Schuylkill River. Board members were chosen to represent the major businesses and institutions within the area while proprietors of small, independent businesses were encouraged to join as regular members, and to participate in Chamber activities and committees.

The Chamber worked closely with the major educational institutions in West Philadelphia including the University of Pennsylvania, Drexel University, and the Philadelphia College of Pharamacy and Science. The Chamber also worked with several local high schools to develop vocational training for students.

The Chamber's primary purpose was political advocacy on behalf of businesses in the region. In the early years, the Chamber was concerned with capital improvements, particularly mass-transit as well as road and highway construction. The Chamber also maintained a special relationship with the major transportation hub within the district, the Philadelphia International Airport.

The Chamber aligned itself with the Greater Philadelphia Chamber politically, and generally supported Republican candidates for city-wide office. The Board consistently opposed increases in city and state taxes on businesses. By the late 1960s, rising crime and high business taxes had raised the cost of doing business in the district. These factors led to a substantial relocation of businesses out of the West Philadelphia area and the Chamber launched concerted membership drives to attract new members. In the end, the predominantly white Chamber's political clout appears to have been steadily eclipsed by the rise of competing advocacy groups, such as the Urban League, who worked on behalf of the largely African-American population of West Philadelphia.
 

COLLECTION OVERVIEW

The collection includes the minutes from most meetings, financial records, committee files and correspondence, resolutions, press releases and policy statements from the Board on behalf of its members, and a nearly-complete collection of the Chamber's Awards Banquet programs.

ORGANIZATION

The records have been divided into five series:

  • Series 1: Administrative
  • Series 2: Committees
  • Series 3: Public Affairs
  • Series 4: Correspondence
  • Series 5: Annual Awards Banquet


Series 1. Administrative. Constitution and By-Laws, 1967-1979. Minutes of meetings, including executive committee, Board of Directors, annual membership, and special committees not covered in Series 2. Also includes record of attendance at meetings, and notices of upcoming meetings.

Series 2. Committees. Records of the Chamber's individual committees: Ad-Hoc Committee on Vacant Buildings, Awards, Education, Finance, Membership, Nominating, Publicity, and Self Evaluation.

Series 3. Public Affairs. Records of actions taken by the Chamber with regards to matters of public concern. Also includes records and literature from other community and governmental organizations describing or explaining individual programs or initiatives.

Series 4. Correspondence. Routine correspondence not otherwise covered by Series 2 or 3. Contains letters from members notifying the Board of Directors of a change in membership status, as well as queries from non-members about business and employment opportunities in the area, or questions about a particular member business.

Series 5. Annual Awards Banquet. Includes a collection of the official program from the Chamber's Annual Awards Banquet as well as records pertaining to the conduct of the banquet.

 

ACQUISITION INFORMATION

Deposited by the organization through Alan B. Gross, President, 3624 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19104, December 1981 and November 1983.

 

INVENTORY
 

Series I: Administrative

Box 1
001 Constitution and By-Laws, 1967-1979
Minutes of Meetings
002 1939-1941
003 1942-1945
004 1946-1949
005 1950-1952
006 1953
007 1954
008 1955
009 1956
010 1957
011 1958
012 1959
013 1960
014 1961
015 1962
016 1963
017 1964

Box 2
018 1965
019 1966
020 1967
021 1968
022 1969
023 1970
024 1971
025 1972
026 1973
027 1974
028 1975
029 1976
030 1977
031 1978
032 1979
033 1980
Luncheon Meetings
034 1975-1977
035 1978-1979
036 Rosenthal Red Cross Files, 1952-1955


Series II: Committees

Box 3
037 Ad-Hoc Committee on Vacant Buildings Near Commercial Areas, 1976
038 Airport Luncheon Committee, 1967-1973
Awards Committee
039 1953, 1955, 1966-1973
040 1974-1977
041 1978-1980
042 Education Committee, 1967-1973

Box 4
Finance Committee
043 1958, 1960-1966
044 1967-1973
045 1974-1980
046 Membership Committee, 1967-1979
Nominating Committee
047 1951-1969
048 1970-1976
049 1977-1980
Program Committee
050 1962-1963, 1967-1970
051 1971-1974

Box 5
Publicity Committee
052 1955, 1956, 1958, 1967-1972
053 Photographs
054 Self-Evaluation Committee, 1968

Series III: Public Affairs

055 1950-1959
056 1960-1969
057 1970
058 1971
059 1973-1976

Series IV: Correspondence

Box 6
060 1950
061 1951
062 1953
063 1954
064 1955
065 1956
066 1957
067 1958
068 1959
069 1960
070 1961
071 1962
072 1963
073 1964
074 1965

Box 7
075 1966
076 1967
077 1968
078 1969
079 1970
080 1971
081 1972

Box 8
082 1973
083 1974
084 1975
085 1976/1 (January-July)
086 1976/2 (August-December)
087 1977
088 1978
089 1979
090 1980
091 Rev. Hagedon Problem, 1971

Series V: Annual Awards Banquet

Box 9
Annual Awards Banquet Files
092 1955
093 1956
094 1957
095 1964
096 1969
097 1970
098 1972
099 1975
100 1977
101 1978
102 1979

Box 10
Annual Awards Banquet Programs
1948
1949
1951
1952
1953
1954
1955
1956
1957
1958
1959
1960
1961
1962
1963
1964
1965
1966
1967
1968
1969
1970
1971
1972
1973
1974
1975
1976
1978
1979
1980