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Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records

Collection ID

Acc. 879

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)


Collection Summary

Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records


Collection ID
Acc. 879

Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records

2.5 linear feet (5 boxes)         

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Materials in English          

Detailed Collection Information

Historical Note

The Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (OANA) was organized in November 1959 following a meeting between David and Florence Cohen, who had recently moved into the area, and the City of Philadelphia’s Commission on Human Relations. The objectives of OANA were to preserve the multicultural character of the neighborhood, maintain high residential standards, and improve the educational, recreational, and cultural facilities for all residents. The boundaries of the neighborhood represented by OANA are from Ogontz Avenue to Broad Street and Olney Avenue to Chelten Avenue in North Philadelphia. Members of OANA paid dues, which covered the cost of leaflets, pamphlets, postage for mass mailings, scholarships for local students, buses to attend hearings, and other expenses. Florence Cohen became the organization’s principal leader, serving as Chairman. Kelly Miller served as OANA President from 1965 until 1966. In 1966 Miller became President of the newly formed Citizens against Segregated Schools, an organization dedicated to citywide school integration. Although Vice President, Florence reemerged as the organization’s chief spokesperson. In 1963 OANA wages an unsuccessful campaign to have Cohen elected to the Board of Public Education.

The concerns that the organization addressed included zoning issues, the appearance and overall maintenance of the area, school integration, and the goal of equal education for all students. In 1961 OANA successfully pressured the Board of Education to adjust the neighborhood boundaries and transfer African-American students from the Joseph Pennell elementary school to the Kinsey school, effectively integrating the two. Throughout the 1960s the OANA campaigned for the integration and improvement of the Philadelphia public schools, lobbying school officials, testifying before the Board of Education and City Council, and organizing demonstrations to advance their demands. The specific changes sought by the OANA for local schools included the hiring of a crossing guard to protect children attending the Howe elementary school; the building of a new gym and auditorium at the Howe school; and the hiring of additional staff, the creation of an after school enrichment program, and the renovation of the building, at the Pennell school.

In keeping with their emphasis on youth and education, OANA created a scholarship fund, awarding scholarships to area high school students entering Temple University. In 1967, they succeeded in opening Girl’s High for evening adult classes and established a Family Center and a boys gym program at the Pennell School. OANA promoted summer youth programs at Kemble Park, established in 1957, two years before OANA was officially organized, and that continued to be a neighborhood project well into the 1980s. OANA also fought for better lighting and the creation of a mini-playground at Kemble Park. They prepared a statement for the City Council Hearings on Appropriations for the Morris Estate, lobbying the City for more acreage to be set aside for a community park and the continuation of a summer arts camp established in 1960.

OANA took action based on Senate Bill 612, allowing for a junior college in Philadelphia and Senate Bill 138, establishing community colleges in Pennsylvania. They lobbied and petitioned Mayor James H. Tate, Pennsylvania senators, and Governor Bill Scranton, working along with the Philadelphia Fellowship Commission. Due to their combined efforts the Philadelphia Community College opened in 1965.

OANA also fought against housing discrimination. They issued statements to neighbors on how to deal with real estate agents pressuring them to sell their homes and worked closely with the City’s Committee on Human Relations. Beginning in 1967, they began protesting and petitioning the City against liquor licenses and beer distributorships, which they feared would lead to the decay of their neighborhood. That year, the Federation of Community Councils awarded OANA for "Outstanding Service to Community."

By 1980, OANA won another zoning battle against the construction of a building on Kemble Park. Due to their efforts, the park was renamed, by City Council Bill 1636, the Fanny Kemble Abolitionist Memorial Park. On October 5, 1985, a ceremony dedicated a plaque to all of the Philadelphia abolitionists who worked against slavery. OANA’s protests and petitions concerning zoning continued through the 1980s, upgrading their area’s zoning from C-2 Commercial, preventing increased commercialization, and from R-9 Residential to R-9A Residential, preventing multiple dwellings. OANA won almost every case placed before zoning board. Their last protest was against Hoagie City in 1992.

For over twenty-five years, OANA lobbied for a Branch Library in Ogontz. After obtaining 1500 signatures, the City included plans for an Ogontz Library in the budget and, in 1986, announced its future site would be the Old Ogontz Theater on Ogontz Avenue. However, not until after OANA organized a demonstration at the proposed site in 1994 did the groundbreaking finally occur.

Description of Collection

This collection documents the activities of the Ogontz Area Neighbors Association was its campaign for the integration and improvement of the Philadelphia public schools. More than one third of the collection is comprised of the subseries 3.21, "Integration of Schools," which documents their campaign for school integration and reflecting the centrality of school integration to the organization. Over half of the subseries concerns the organization’s protests and lobbying on behalf of the Pennell school.

The collection also provides extensive documentation of the organization’s other campaigns, including those for summer youth programs, maintenance and improvement of local parks, and opposition to the establishment of a McDonald’s and other businesses viewed as potential community nuisances. Diverse sources document the organization’s diverse tactics, including numerous polite but firm letters, mostly from Florence Cohen, to city and school officials; calls for community meetings and other flyers, revealing the face the organization presented to the community; newspaper articles, indicating the organization’s ability to attract public attention; and public testimony and policy statements defining the organization’s outlook. Letters of complaints from members of the community, with the responses of OANA and the city government’s responses, indicate the dynamic between the neighborhood, OANA, and the city. Newspaper articles and other sources indicate the success OANA achieved in many of its campaigns, particularly on zoning issues.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 8 series as follows:

Series 1:  Administration, 1960-1998
Series 2:  Correspondence, 1959-1980
          Subseries 2.1:  General Correspondence, 1960-1969
          Subseries 2.2:  Mrs. Cohen, 1959-1980
          Subseries 2.3:  Correspondence of Kelly Miller, 1964-1970
          Subseries 2.4:  Hate Mail, undated
Series 3:  Projects, 1957-1992, bulk 1960s
          Subseries 3.1:  Crime Prevention, 1964-1970
          Subseries 3.2:  Family Career Conference, 1963
          Subseries 3.3:  Girls’ High Adult School, 1961-1963
          Subseries 3.4:  Housing Discrimination, 1958-1986
          Subseries 3.5:  Kemble Park Apartments, 1968
          Subseries 3.6:  LaSalle College Program, 1962-1966
          Subseries 3.7:  Library, 1963, 1985
          Subseries 3.8:  Parks and Recreation, 1960-1995
                    Sub-subseries 3.8.1:  Parks and Recreation, 1962-1968
                    Sub-subseries 3.8.2:  Kemble Park, 1978-1995
                    Sub-subseries 3.8.3:  Morris Estate, 1960-1968
                    Sub-subseries 3.8.4:  Pennell School, 1964-1965
          Subseries 3.9:  Philadelphia Community College, 1961-1963
          Subseries 3.10:  Campaign against McDonald's, 1969-1970
          Subseries 3.11:  School Board Campaign, 1963-1969
          Subseries 3.12:  Integration of Schools, 1965-1966
                    Sub-subseries 3.12.1:  Integration of Schools General, 1960-1979
                    Sub-subseries 3.12.2:  Integration of Schools, Pennell School, 1960-1979
          Subseries 3.13:  Petitions and Protests, 1960-1992
          Subseries 3.14:  Zoning, 1957-1992
          Subseries 3.15:  Undated Petitions
Series 4:  Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1960-1969
Series 5:  Certificates and Awards, 1961-1984
Series 6:  Photographs, 1969
Series 7:  Publicity, 1961-1978
Series 8:  Publications

Series 1: Administration, 1960-1998, includes the organization’s bylaws, correspondence, letters to neighbors, a list of members of the Town Watch committee and volunteer forms, copies of testimony for public hearings, financial statements, clippings and brochures about OANA’s achievements and goals, mailing lists of individuals and organizations, notices of membership drives and applications, notices for meetings and agendas, and letters to members concerning OANA projects.

Series 2:  Correspondence, 1959-1980, contains four sub-series: general correspondence, the correspondence of Florence Cohen, hate mail, and the correspondence of Kelly Miller. The series contains a number of letters regarding complaints that residents of the Ogontz area wished addressed by OANA, and OANA’s response to some of these complaints.

Subseries 2.1:  General Correspondence, 1960-1969, includes letters from United States Senator Hugh Scott thanking the organization for their support of the Civil Rights Bill; condolences sent from OANA to Coretta Scott King on the murder of her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King; and wishes from OANA and various community residents for the speedy prosecution of King’s assassin.

Subseries 2.2:  Mrs. Cohen, 1959-1980, contains Florence Cohen’s correspondence dating from 1959 through 1980, mostly to city and school officials. Included are letters of complaints on neighborhood issues, and OANA and the city’s response to these complaints. The sub-series also includes Mrs. Cohen’s letter to the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin chastising them for running a segregationist ad, and her request to and acceptance from a member of the World Affairs Council to come and speak to the community about the war in Vietnam.

Subseries 2.3:  Correspondence of Kelly Miller, 1964-1970, includes letters to KYW requesting air time to speak on behalf of integration of Philadelphia public schools, and a letter to the Department of Justice to actively pursue all those involved in the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Subseries 2.4:  Hate Mail, undated, contains two letters denouncing the work of OANA due to the amount of attention given to African Americans and the call for integration.

Series 3:  Projects, 1957-1992, bulk 1960s, consists of files related to the campaigns of the OANA.

Subseries 3.1:  Crime Prevention, 1964-1970, includes notices of meetings, a proposal made to the Department of Public Welfare, letters to the Crime Prevention Association, statement to City Council, mailing lists, notices to the Area Youth Committee, correspondence including a letter from Mayor Tate, and notices of meetings concerned with gang violence.

Subseries 3.2:  Family Career Conference, 1963, includes programs, flyers, clippings, press releases, correspondence, information on scholarships, a list of the education committee members, all relating to the October 1963 conference.

Subseries 3.3:  Girls’ High Adult School, 1961-1963, includes surveys, course descriptions, petition samples, brochure, fliers, correspondence, clippings, letter from PA Governor William Scranton, letter from Pennsylvania representative Bill Green, letters from PA Rep. Eugene Gelfand, Pennsylvania Sen. Martin Silvert, and Philadelphia School Board President J. Harry Le Brun.

Subseries 3.4:  Housing Discrimination, 1958-1986, includes a statement of policy to West Mount Airy neighbors, extracts of the Real Estate License Law, information on how to cope with real estate pressure, mailing lists, statement from and correspondence with the Committee on Human Relations, summary of laws pertaining to non-discrimination, sample petitions, summary of Investigative Hearings on Real Estate, practices in Racially Changing Neighborhoods, copy of City Council Bill No. 90, clippings, and correspondence.

Subseries 3.5:  Kemble Park Apartments, 1968, includes clippings, letters to tenants, inspection reports, correspondence, and tenant complaints.

Subseries 3.6:  LaSalle College Program, 1962-1966, includes a study by the Department of Sociology, La Salle College on the Ogontz neighborhood, "A Changing Neighborhood" (1962), a brochure, correspondence, and a report on the Upward Bound Program.

Subseries 3.7:  Library, 1963, 1985, includes fliers, correspondence, Bookmobile petition, clippings, copy of PA H.R. 2587 Bill to amend the Library Services Act, letters from Philadelphia Councilman Henry P. Carr, Councilman William J. Green, letter to City Planning Commission about City Budget, mailing lists, and a press release.

Subseries 3.8:  Parks and Recreation, 1960-1995, consists of four sub-subseries: Parks and Recreation; Kemble Park; Morris Estate; and Pennell School. 

Sub-subseries 3.8.1:  Parks and Recreation, 1962-1968, includes planning guides, statement of purpose for the recreation committee, fliers, clippings, correspondence, letters to City Councilman Carr, letters to Board of Education, Deputy Commissioner of Department Recreation, a Report on Youth Problems in the North West, programs and a press release for a Fashion Show and Tea benefiting youth, testimony for public hearing on capital budget, and a list of recreation centers.

Sub-subseries 3.8.2:  Kemble Park, 1978-1995, includes correspondence, clippings, letters from Fairmount Parks Commission and City Department of Recreation, copy of City Council Bill 1636, an ordinance changing the name of Kemble park to Fanny Kemble Abolitionist Memorial Park, copy of quotations by Fanny Kemble, notices of summer programs, invitation to dedication of plaque honoring abolitionists, program of dedication ceremony, and mailing lists.

Sub-subseries 3.8.3:  Morris Estate, 1960-1968, includes a flier for summer arts camp, proposition against Morris Estate being re-zoned for a shopping center, correspondence, a letters from Mayor Richardson Dilworth and Congressman Green, a statement for City Council Hearings on Morris Estate Appropriations, brochures, and clippings.

Sub-subseries 3.8.4:  Pennell School, 1964-1965, includes clippings, correspondence, and mailing list, dated 1964-1965.

Subseries 3.9:  Philadelphia Community College, 1961-1963, includes notices, correspondence including letter from Mayor James Tate and letter from Governor Bill Scranton, papers from Philadelphia Fellowship Commission, information on Senate Bill 612, Senate Bill 138, and brochures.

Subseries 3.10:  Campaign Against McDonald's, 1969-1970, contains files related to the protests of the Ogontz Area Neighbors Association against the building of a McDonald’s in their neighborhood. Included are letters to the Philadelphia Planning Commission, letters to the construction company in charge of building the restaurant, calls for the neighbors to join the fight against McDonald’s and attend the zoning board meeting, letters of support for OANA from local churches, and newspaper clippings describing the groups protests.

Subseries 3.11:  School Board Campaign, 1963-1969, contains letters of support from judges, Congressman William Green, Congressman Herman Toll, for Florence Cohen’s nomination to the School Board of Philadelphia; and letters from Florence Cohen, asking the community’s support in her nomination to the school board in order to promote integration. Signed statements from the members of OANA in support of Cohen, newspaper clippings, and a biography of Cohen are also included.

Subseries 3.12:  Integration of Schools, 1965-1966, contains two sub-subseries: Integration of Schools General, and Integration of School, Pennell School. 

Sub-subseries 3.12.1: Integration of Schools General, 1960-1979, includes clippings and statements from other pro-integration organizations; several letters to school officials and statements before the Board of Education and City Council by Kelly Miller, while serving as OANA President 1965-1966; several leaflets and letters document the activities of Citizens against Segregated Schools, founded by Miller in 1966.

Sub-subseries 3.12.2:  Integration of Schools, Pennell School, 1960-1979, concerns OANA’s campaign on behalf of Pennell School. 

Subseries 3.13:  Petitions and Protests, 1960-1992, chronicles various protests and petitions spearheaded by OANA. The protests and correspondence between parties often involve the Liquor Control Board. Many letters request that the Liquor Control Board not grant Liquor Licenses to businesses within the community. Also included are letters to the Department of License and Inspection regarding concerns about illegal uses of space.

Subseries 3.14:  Zoning, 1957-1992, includes maps, residential districts, notices from Zoning Alert Service, housing inspections, a flyer, mailing lists, a sample petition, correspondence, copy of zoning code, document from Philadelphia Planning Commission, a zoning manual, bulletins, clippings, recommendation to City Planning Commission, list of liquor, license transfers, letters to neighbors, and testimony before Advisory Committee for Economic Developmen).

Subseries 3.15:  Undated Petitions, contains a number of signed and unsigned petitions for various protests throughout the years of OANA.

Series 4:  Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1960-1969, includes newspaper clippings of OANA’s activities, press photos of picket line and of President Florence Cohen.

Series 5:  Certificates and Awards, 1961-1984, includes a resolution honoring Reverend Edward F. Holley, a certificate of outstanding achievement, and a citation to Madie Johnson from Philadelphia City Council.

Series 6:  Photographs, 1969, includes five black and white photographs, two polaroid photographs, and four mounted color Polaroid photographs depicting a strip mall. See also the Miscellaneous Photograph Collection (PC-49).

Series 7:  Publicity, 1961-1978, includes mass mailing copies, press releases, letter from the Frank Ford Show, letter from WRCV about "Integrated Living," promotion for various projects such as a local library, zoning issues, a career conference, and Florence Cohen’s bid for School Board.  

Series 8:  Publications, includes posters, fliers, pamphlets promoting an Ogontz library, brochures listing OANA’s achievements: "Profile of Progress" and "Success Story," membership brochures, and a career conference program. 

Patron Information

Research Access

Collection is open for research.

Collections Stored Off-Site

This collection may be housed off-site at the Library Depository, and require up to two business days to retrieve. Please review the finding aid and be prepared to identify specific materials to be retrieved. Contact the Special Collections Research Center in advance of your visit, so that materials may be relocated to the reading room for research.

Publication and Copyright Information

The Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records are the physical property of the Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries.  Intellectual property rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.  Researchers are responsible for determining the identity of rights holders and obtaining their permission for publication and for other purposes where stated.

Preferred Citation

[Description and date of item], [Box/folder number], Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.), Accession 879, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

Donated by Florence Cohen in March 1998. 

Processing Information

Processed by Kyra Atterbury, Barbara Beaucar, and David Haugaard, April 2003. Finding aid revised according to contemporary archival standards in June 2015.                 

Index Terms

The following headings have been used to index the description of this collection in Temple University’s electronic catalog:

Personal/Family Names:
Cohen, Florence, died 2015
Miller, Kelly

Corporate Names:
Ogontz Area Neighbors Association (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Citizens’ associations -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Community development -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Community organization -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Ogontz Park (Elkins Park, Pa.)
Philadelphia (Pa.)

Material Types:
Administrative records
Articles of incorporation
Bylaws (administrative records)
Financial records
Mailing lists


Series 1: Administration, 1960-1998

1          1          Block Captains          1963-1986

1          2          By-Laws          1978

1          3          Community Meetings          1960-1966

1          4          Community Meetings          1967-1969

1          5          Community Meetings          1970-1979

1          6          Community Meetings          1980-1989

1          7          Community Meetings          1990-1998

1          8          Correspondence          1969-1998

1          9          Financial          1960-1967

1          10          History          1967-1979

1          11          Mailing Lists          1963

1          12          Mailing Lists          1964

1          13          Membership          1963-1968

1          14          Membership          1969-1986

1          15          Testimony for Public Hearings          1967-1969

Series 2:  Correspondence, 1959-1980

Subseries 2.1:  General Correspondence, 1960-1969

1          16          General          1960-1964

1          17          General          1965-1969

Subseries 2.2:  Mrs. Cohen, 1959-1980

1          18          Florence Cohen          1959-1960

1          19          Florence Cohen          1961-1963

1          20          Florence Cohen          1964, 1966

1          21          Florence Cohen          1967

1          22          Florence Cohen          1968-1974

2          1          Florence Cohen          1978

2          2          Florence Cohen          1979-1980

Subseries 2.3:  Correspondence of Kelly Miller 1964-1970

2          3          Kelly E. Miller          1964-1970

Subseries 2.4:  Hate Mail

2          4          Hate Mail          undated

Series 3:  Projects, 1957-1992, bulk 1960s

Subseries 3.1:  Crime Prevention, 1964-1970

2          5          Crime Prevention          1964-1965

2          6          Crime Prevention          1966-1970

Subseries 3.2:  Family Career Conference, 1963

2          7          Family Career Conference          October 1963

Subseries 3.3:  Girls’ High Adult School, 1961-1963

2          8          Girls High, Adult Evening School          1961

2          9          Girls High, Adult Evening School          1962-1963

Subseries 3.4, Housing Discrimination, 1958-1986

2          10          Housing Discrimination          undated

2          11          Housing Discrimination          1958-1986

Subseries 3.5:  Kemble Park Apartments, 1968

2          12          Kemble Park Apartments          1968

Subseries 3.6:  LaSalle College Program, 1962-1967

2          13          LaSalle College Program          1962-1967

Subseries 3.7:  Library, 1963, 1985

2          14          Library          1961-1985

Subseries 3.8:  Parks and Recreation, 1960-1995

Sub-subseries 3.8.1:  Parks and Recreation, 1962-1968

2          15          Parks & Recreation          1962

2          16          Parks & Recreation          1963-1968

Sub-subseries 3.8.2:  Kemble Park, 1978-1995

2          17          Parks & Recreation Kemble Park          1957-1960

2          18          Parks & Recreation Kemble Park          1961-1970

3          1          Parks & Recreation Kemble Park          1978-1995

Sub-subseries 3.8.3:  Morris Estate, 1960-1968

3          2          Parks & Recreation Morris Estate          1960-1968

Sub-subseries 3.8.4:  Pennell School, 1964-1965

3          3          Parks & Recreation Pennell School          1964-1965

Subseries 3.9:  Philadelphia Community College, 1961-1963

3          4          Philadelphia Community College          1961-1963

Subseries 3.10:  Campaign Against McDonald's, 1969-1970

3          5          Campaign Against McDonalds          May 1969

3          6          Campaign Against McDonalds          June 1969-February 1970

3          7          Campaign Against McDonalds          March 1970-July 1970, January 1971

Subseries 3.11:  School Board Campaign, 1963-1969

3          8          School Board Campaign          February 1963

3          9          School Board Campaign          March-April 1963

3          10          School Board Campaign          May 1963-1969

Subseries 3.12:  Integration of Schools, 1965-1966

Subseries 3.12.1: Integration of Schools General, 1960-1979

3          11          Integration of Schools General          1960

3          12          Integration of Schools General          1961

3          13          Integration of Schools General          1962

3          14          Integration of Schools General          January-April 1963

3          15          Integration of Schools General          May-December 1963

3          16          Integration of Schools General          1964-1965

3          17          Integration of Schools General          1966

3          18          Integration of Schools General          1967

4          1          Integration of Schools General          1968

4          2          Integration of Schools General          1979

4          3          Integration of Schools, Pennell          undated

4          4          Integration of Schools, Pennell          1960-1961

4          5          Integration of Schools, Pennell          1962

4          6          Integration of Schools, Pennell          January-June 1963

4          7          Integration of Schools, Pennell          November 1963

4          8          Integration of Schools, Pennell          November 1963

4          9          Integration of Schools, Pennell          December 1963

4          10          Integration of Schools, Pennell          January 1964

4          11          Integration of Schools, Pennell          February 1964

4          12          Integration of Schools, Pennell          March 1964

4          13          Integration of Schools, Pennell          April 1964

4          14          Integration of Schools, Pennell          May-December 1964

4          15          Integration of Schools, Pennell          1965-1967

4          16          Integration of Schools, Pennell          1968-1969

4          17          Pennell Family Community Center          undated

4          18          Philadelphia Community College          1961-1963

Subseries 3.13:  Petitions and Protests, 1960-1992

4          19          Petitions and Protests          1960-1965

4          20          Petitions and Protests          1966-1967

5          1          Petitions and Protests          1968-1969

5          2          Petitions and Protests          1970-1992

Subseries 3.14:  Zoning, 1957-1992

5          3          Zoning          undated

5          4          Zoning          1957-1962

5          5          Zoning          1963-1965

5          6          Zoning          1966-1967

5          7          Zoning          1968-1969

5          8          Zoning          1970-1992

5          9          Undated Petitions          undated

Series 4:  Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1960-1969

5          10          Scrapbooks and Clippings          1960-1961

5          11          Scrapbooks and Clippings          1962-1969

Series 5:  Certificates and Awards, 1961-1984

5          12          Certificates and Awards          1961-1984

Series 6:  Photographs, 1969

5          13          Photographs          1969

Series 7:  Publicity, 1961-1978

5          14          Publicity          1961

5          15          Publicity          1962-1968

Series 8:  Publications

5          16          Publications of OANA          undated

5          17          Publications of OANA          undated