Urban Archives Collections

About the Urban Archives

Established in 1967, Temple University Libraries' Urban Archives document the social, economic and physical development of the greater Philadelphia region through­out the igth, 2oth and 2ist centuries. It is one of the most extensive archives in the nation addressing the develop­ment of an urban region during this time period. In Philadelphia, researchers have a number of resources from which to access materials on revolutionary and colonial history. To research our region's contemporary development there is only one unique resource—the Urban Archives.

Manuscript Collections

Community and political organizations have helped shape the greater Philadelphia region. Through extensive manuscript collections from businesses, nonprofits and community groups, the Urban Archives document the private sector's impact on our region. Records from public meetings, correspondence, annual reports, finan­cial statements, and internal and external publications from more than 300 organizations are found at the Archives, including:

Housing Association of Delaware Valley: Founded during the Progressive era, this organization main­tained that housing problems and policies were inti­mately related to the city's social conditions and physical evolution. Manuscripts from the Housing Association therefore document a wide range of urban issues such as sanitation in the 19105 and neighborhood struggles against expressways in the 19705.

Pennsylvania Railroad Company: The records of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company cover 1847 to 1966. This archive consists predominantly of office files related to the company's operations in the Philadelphia metropolitan area. The collection also contains corporate records for a number of subsidiary and related companies based in the region.

Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission: The Philadelphia Special Investigation Commission, appointed by Mayor W. Wilson Goode, investigated the events leading up to and including the May 13, 1985, confrontation with MOVE, a self-proclaimed "back-to-nature" group. The commission held tele­vised public hearings, and issued a report. The Urban Archives hold manuscripts, photographs, news clip­pings, administrative files and videotape produced by and related to the Commission. Holdings of particular interest include detailed depositions of Commission hearings and corresponding WHYY videotape, exten­sive files on media coverage and evidence files.

Walter Phillips Oral History Project and Manuscripts: Walter M. Phillips Sr. (1912-1985) was active in Philadelphia's civic affairs for more than 30 years, having held various positions with the City Policy Committee, the Citizen's Committee on City Planning, the Greater Philadelphia Movement, and the Bureau of Municipal Research. Phillips managed Joseph Clark's successful race for mayor of Philadelphia in 1951, and served as city representative and director of commerce in the Clark administration. He retired in 1974 to undertake the Walter Phillips Oral History Project. The Phillips manuscripts address his important civic and political involvement, as well as his involvement in international affairs, education and conservation. It also includes personal papers. The oral history component of the Phillips materials includes 145 interviews covering politics, government, city planning and urban development from 1930 to 1979.

Houston Community Center: The manuscript collection on the Houston Community Center traces its development from a traditional settlement house, providing lessons in domestication and assimilation to immigrants and local populations, to an advocacy force deeply involved with the Southwark Community Council and planning around the Delaware Expressway. Covering 1904 to 1970, this collection helps researchers understand the shifting shapes of community organizations and communities throughout 20th-century Philadelphia.

Philadelphia Evening Bulletin Collection

The Bulletin collection is one of the landmark resources of the Urban Archives. It provides a nearly unequaled archive for research and study of the region's 20th-century social, political and economic development. Donated when the Bulletin closed in 1982, this extensive collection contains over 7 million individual news clippings, which give a broad, comprehensive view of Philadelphia in the 2oth century. Materials date from 1920 through the early 19805. Clippings are filed by subject and personal name. The collection also contains over 4 million images used frequently by researchers, students and the general public.

Photographic Collections

The Urban Archives house more than 100 photographic collections—over 5 million images total (including Bulletin images as mentioned above)—which contain primarily black and white prints and film negatives, though formats such as glass negatives, color transpar­encies, and lantern slides are included. This extensive, outstanding visual resource includes:

Housing photographic and Lantern-slide collections:
These extensive collections of images produced for the Housing Association of Delaware Valley (previously the Philadelphia Housing Association) and the Octavia Hill Association include housing interiors and exteriors, streets, courts, alleys, public housing projects, privy vaults and sanitation conditions, with emphasis on reform and living conditions. They date from 1897 to 1972, and most are now accessible online.

City Parks Association photographs:

This collection of over 1,300 images dates primarily from 1890 to 1930 and includes visuals of parks, general living condi­tions, and aerials in and out of Philadelphia. This collection gives visual representation to issues in city planning, landscapes and urban history. City Parks
Association images are now accessible online.

 

Pamphlet Collections

A large collection of pamphlets complements the Urban Archives' photographic, manuscript and newsclipping holdings. There are nearly 10,000 pamphlets and 3,500 annual reports on topics covering urban development, schools, hospitals and more, ranging from the late 18505 through the 19705. Reports and pamphlets from the Citizens' Council on City Planning, the Fairmount Park Art Commission, the Jane D. Kent Day Nursery, the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation, the International House, West Laurel Hill Cemetery, the Union League and many more important organizations from throughout the greater Philadelphia region are found at the Urban Archives.

Books and Maps

Over 2,000 books that reflect Philadelphia's social, economic and political histories from 1845 through the present, all of which can be accessed through
our online catalog City directories from the 18405 through the 19305 Philadelphia atlases, insurance maps and other topo­ graphical depictions from the 18805 through 19505

 

Media Collections

The Urban Archives media collections comprise hundreds of thousands of newsfilm reels and cassettes spanning 1947 through the 20005. Most materials are from CBS3 (formerly KYW), and WPVI (formerly WFIL-TV, Channel 6), which document the region's news and development from the 19705 onward. Both collections contain aired and unused news footage, air checks, original documentaries and other special programming. Some logbooks and indices are available for both CBS3 and WPVI. Materials from WPVI also include public affairs programming such as Visions, El Barrio, Assignment and Sojourn. The Urban Archives hold media materials from various community organizations and local producers.

Much of the media programming found at the Urban Archives dates from mid-2oth century onward, creating a deep collection that complements news clippings and manuscript holdings, which focus on slightly earlier decades. The Urban Archives continue to acquire media materials, defining it as a foremost repository for audio­visual collections on the development of the greater Philadelphia region.

Footage is on a variety of formats including 16 mm film, 3/4" U-Matic, 2" Quad, Beta SP, mini-DV, DVD and VHS. Some formats need conversion or extensive preparation before viewing. It is recommended that researchers call the Urban Archives ahead of time to discuss their use of media collections.

 

The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Collection

The Philadelphia Jewish Archives Center collection, composed of 4,500 linear feet of materials, is the most extensive and varied documentation of any Jewish community outside New York City.

Founded in 1972, PJAC collects and preserves the historical records of the Jewish community from the greater Philadelphia region, including Southern New Jersey, and makes this record available to scholars and the general public. Records and collections date back to the i9th century. Over 800 individuals and orga­nizations have contributed records representative of important cultural, educational, religious, beneficial and fraternal organizations, and synagogues.

 

Digital Collections

Visit library.temple.edu/digitalcollections, and find images from the City Parks Association, Housing Association of Delaware Valley and the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin online. Photos are searchable by collection and keyword. Our online collections are continually growing as we actively digitize additional materials. To suggest materials for digitization, please contact libweb@temple.edu.

Visiting the Urban Archives

The Urban Archives are open to the public, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday, on the ground floor of Paley Library on Temple University's Main Campus.

Occasionally special holiday hours apply.

Temple University Libraries' Urban Archives

Ground Floor, Paley Library

1210 Polett Walk

Philadelphia, PA 19122

Ph: 215-204-8257, 215 204-5750, F: 215-204-3681

E-mail: urban@temple.edu

Web: library.temple.edu/collections/urbana

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