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Wister Area Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records

Collection ID

Acc. 343

Related Subject(s)

Collecting Area(s)


Collection Summary

Wister Area Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records


Collection ID
Acc. 343

Wister Area Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.)

4 linear feet (4 boxes)

Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries

Materials in English.         

Detailed Collection Information

Historical Note

The Wister Area Committee (WAC) was a division of the Wister Neighborhood Council, Inc., and closely associated with the Wister Neighborhood Council though it was not legally part of that organization.  WAC was in existence from 1969 to 1972, but aspects of it continued until 1977.

WAC was established for the purpose of involving residents of the area in all phases of the development program established by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). It aimed to control to the greatest possible extent the end results of the development project that was a program of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority.

During the winter and spring of 1967-68, the Area Planning Committee obtained from various City departments concerned with urban renewal the approval to formulate a project area for urban renewal in Wister. There was to be some indication of structures needing to be demolished or rehabilitated. The Committee, in liaison with three architects from the Workshop of the American Institute of Architects, came up with a tentative project area.

In August 1968, the Chairman of the Wister Neighborhood Council and the Area Planning Committee decided that a concerted effort needed to be made to involve the area residents and businesses in the planning process. This resulted in a series of block meetings and resident surveys. In September of 1968 the Wister Neighborhood Council was informed that the City of Philadelphia would apply for a planning and survey application for Wister under the Neighborhood Development Program (NDP).

 By February 1969 a first draft of the By-laws was written indicating that the Wister Committee 1, a division of the Wister Neighborhood Council, Inc., was established. By April 1969, in a re-draft of the By-laws, The Wister Area Committee (WAC) was named and indicated as a division of the Wister Neighborhood Council, Inc. All business transacted by WAC was to be transacted in the name of the Wister Neighborhood Council, Inc. It was established for a period not to exceed five years. Membership was limited by age and residency or business location. The area covered was generally bounded by Germantown Avenue on the south, Wister Street on the east, the Reading Railroad Company’s Chestnut Hill Line right-of-way (parallel to Belfield Avenue) on the north and Bringhurst, Wakefield and Collom Streets on the west.

WAC was very involved in the day-to-day, hands on work with the area residents as well as soliciting support for their project politically and legally in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Washington. The loss of government funds terminated the project and the official existence of WAC after four years. The Wister area residents continued the struggle to redevelop their neighborhood past that time.

Description of Collection

The Wister Area Committee (WAC) records cover the period from 1963 to 1977, with the bulk of the material dating from 1969 to 1972, the organization’s most focused period of activity.

The records provide a background on the creation of WAC, and document its projects, finances, and publications. The Wister Area Committee’s commitment to a community-based approach to urban-renewal is evidenced in the extensive surveys of the area found in the Projects series, the flyers prepared for local distribution found in Publications series, and in the terms of its inception, outlined in the Administration series.

The projects initiated by the Wister Area Committee, largely housing and relocation projects, relied heavily upon collaboration with other organizations such as the Redevelopment Authority of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia Housing Development Corporation. Interactions with these organizations can be found in both the Contracts series and the Correspondence series.

Organization and Arrangement

The collection is arranged into 9 series as follows:

Series 1. Administration, 1967-1977
Series 2. Projects, 1963-1977
Series 3. Financial, 1969-1974
Series 4. Contracts, 1968-1971
Series 5. Correspondence, 1967-1977
Series 6. Publications, 1968-1971
Series 7. Other organizations, 1966-1969
Series 8. Subjects, 1968-1970
Series 9. Miscellaneous, 1969-1977

HUD – (Department of) Housing and Urban Development
NDP – Neighborhood Development Program
RDA - Redevelopment Authority
WAC – Wister Area Committee

Series 1: Administration, includes materials that deal with planning at a block-by-block level (in relation to the Area Planning Committee), drafts of WAC by-laws, resumes by applicants seeking to fill positions as community organizers, project architects and other roles and a number of meetings and exhortations to residents to express their views on causes such as the proposed segment of highway known as the "Belfield By-Pass," with the meetings and other concerns being advertised on handwritten "ditto" sheets characteristic of this period.

Series 2: Projects, includes files that are largely characterized by documentation of different possibilities for the redesign of the Wister area by architects, residents and others, listings of physical rehabilitation work to be done on a large number of houses and commercial properties in the "NDP," "Rehabilitation" and "Relocation" folders and some information on neighborhood demographics in the folders with relocation and tenant surveys.

Series 3: Financial Records, consists of receipts, resident responses to loans and grants which they received, and charts explaining three different subsidized housing programs.

Series 4: Contracts, contains different versions of a detailed and lengthy contract between the WNC and the Redevelopment Authority, materials on Professional Services for WAC and petitions with an estimated 200 signatures to speed up review of the Redevelopment Authority-WNC contract.

Series 5: Correspondence, contains communication between the Redevelopment Authority and WAC from 1969-71, WAC notifications sent to hire planners and others who would help WAC, and other correspondence.

Series 6: Publications, includes newspaper articles which cover renewal plans and resident attitudes in Wister, pages for a "WAC Handbook," which largely list facts on housing programs, by-laws, terms related to neighborhood rehabilitation and other subjects (in a glossary) and other subjects, and copies of a Handbook introduction titled "Wister Wants Control.”

Series 7: Other Organizations, contains annual reports, contracts, and other materials from groups active in Germantown, other Philadelphia neighborhoods, or the city as a whole.

Series 8: Subjects, includes materials organized by subject.

Series 9: Miscellaneous, includes a statement before a Philadelphia City Council hearing of July, 1971 by Ethel Bibbs, the Chair of WAC (speaking constructively but also summarizing "disappointments" with the NDP and reminding the Council of Wister’s issues of blight) and a "Complaint" before the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia on a lawsuit by residents against the proposed highway segment known partly as the "Rittenhouse-Belfield Bypass."

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 Wister Area Committee (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], Wister Area Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.) Records, Acc. 343, Special Collections Research Center, Temple University Libraries, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Administrative Information

Acquisition Information

The Wister Area Committee materials were donated by Christopher Nicholson in May of 1978.

Processing Information

Collection processed and finding aid prepared in April 2002 by Adrianna Del Collo, Michele Gendron, and Joshua Silver. 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:

Corporate Names:
Wister Area Committee (Philadelphia, Pa.)
Wister Neighborhood Council (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Community development -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Community organization -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Neighborhood planning -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Urban renewal -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia
Zoning -- Pennsylvania -- Philadelphia

Philadelphia (Pa.)

Material Types:
Administrative records
Articles of incorporation
Case files
Financial records
Ledgers (account books)
Legal documents


Series 1: Administration, 1967-1977

1          1          Area Planning Committee          1967-1968
1          2          By-laws & petition          1969
1          3          By-laws, minutes, attachments          1967
1          4          By-laws, minutes, attachments          1970
1          5          By-laws WNC I          1969
1          6          Community Development Block Grant Prog.          1974-1977
1          7          Meetings          1969-1972
1          8          Minutes          1969
1          9          Minutes, board budgets (Emanuel Freeman)          1976-1977
1          10          NDP          1971-1972
1          11          Personnel (sensitive)          1969-1972
1          12          Personnel
1          13          Resumes (sensitive)          1969-1970
1          14          Personnel Time Records          1970-1972
1          15          Shedaker Lot          1969
1          16          Staff meetings          1970-1971
1          17          Student report (Abby Rabinovitz)          1968-1969
1          18          Weekly report sheets(sensitive)          1971-1972

Series 2: Projects, 1963-1977

1          19          Acquisitions          1968-1971
1          20          Architects and planners          1963-1970
1          21          Architects and planners (photograph)          1963-1970
1          22          Housing          1968-1971
1          23          Housing City-State          1970
1          24          Housing Reports (sensitive)          1969-1974
1          25          Housing Reports          1974-1977

2          1          Neighborhood Development Program          1970
2          2          Planning Area Committee          1969-1975
2          3          Rehabilitation          1969-1970
2          4          Relocation          1963-1969
2          5          Relocation Commercial relocation          1969
2          6          Relocation survey 1:2 (sensitive)          1969
2          7          Relocation survey 2:2 (sensitive)          1966-1969
2          8          Social Services Team reports (Meyers, John)          1971-1972
2          9          Tenant survey (sensitive)          Undated
2          10          Urban renewal          1970
2          11          Miscellaneous          1968-1970

Series 3: Financial, 1969-1974

2          12          5153 Wakefield-summary and receipts          1971
2          13          Bills-April-June          1971
2          14          Budget proposal-2nd and 3rd year          1971-1974
2          15          Correspondence from WAC          1969
2          16          Correspondence R.A. and Legal          1970
2          17          Expenses (sensitive)          Feb.-Mar. 1970
2          18          Expenses (sensitive)          Apr. 1970

2          19          Expenses (sensitive)          May 1970
2          20          Expenses (sensitive)          June-Aug. 1970
2          21          Expenses (sensitive)          Sept.-Oct. 1970
2          22          Expenses (sensitive)          Nov.-Dec. 1970
2          23          Expenses (sensitive)          Jan.-Feb. 1971
2          24          Expenses (sensitive)          Mar.-Apr. 1971
2          25          Expenses (sensitive)          May-June 1971
2          26          Expenses (sensitive)          July-Aug. 1971
2          27          Expenses (sensitive)          Sept.-Oct. 1971
2          28          Expenses (sensitive)          Nov.-Dec. 15 1971
2          29          Expenses (sensitive)          Dec. 15-Feb. 1971-1972
2          30          Foundation resources          1970
2          31          Loan and grant reviews (sensitive)          1970-1972
2          32          NDP loan and grant info. Sheet          1970
2          33          NDP loan and grant survey          1972
2          34          PAC-cash receipts and disbursements (sensitive)          1969-1971
2          35          Public housing, Turnkey III, 235          1970
2          36          Rehab. loan and grant program          1969
2          37          Tax materials          1969-1970
2          38          Wage and tax statements (sensitive)          1970
2          39          Miscellaneous          1969-1971

Series 4: Contracts, 1968-1971

3          1          Personnel and misc. 1:2 (sensitive)          1968-1970
3          2          Personnel and misc. 2:2 (sensitive)          1969-1970
3          3          Petitions to speed up contract review          Undated
3          4          Proposal re: contract with RDA          1970
3          5          Redevelopment Authority 1:4          1968-1969
3          6          Redevelopment Authority 2:4
3          7          Redevelopment Authority 3:4
3          8          Redevelopment Authority 4:4          1970-1971
3          9          Wister Neighborhood Council and PHDC          1971
3          10          Wister Neighborhood Council and RDA (sensitive)          1969
3          11          Miscellaneous          1969-71

Series 5: Correspondence, 1967-1977

3          12          Area Planning Committee          1967-1969
3          13          Elected officers          1971
3          14          Germantown Boys Club          1968-1969
3          15          Germantown Settlement-WAC          1969-1977
3          16          HUD/NDP          1970
3          17          Phila. Housing Auth.-WAC          1969-1970
3          18          Political-misc.          1969
3          19          Properties          1969-1971
3          20          RA/WAC          1969-1971
3          21          Universities-misc.          1970
3          22          WAC ditto masters          1970-1971
3          23          Miscellaneous          1969-1972

Series 6: Publication, 1968-1971

4          1          Publications about WAC Press clippings          1968-1969
4          2          Publications about WAC Press clippings          1970-1971
4          3          Publications by WAC          1969-1970
4          4          Publications by WAC Ditto masters          1969

Series 7: Other Organizations, 1966-1979

4          5          Concerned Citizens          1969
4          6          Germantown Homes, Inc.          1969-1977
4          7          Germantown Settlement          1968-1969
4          8          Neighborhood Renewal Program          1969-1979
4          9          Northwest Tenants Organization          1976
4          10          Phila. Housing Development Corp. (PHDC)          1966-1969
4          11          Redevelopment Action Groups (RAG)          1969-1971
4          12          Redevelopment Authority          1975
4          13          Tenant Action Group (TAG)          1974-1977
4          14          Wister Buying Club          1966-1970
4          15          Miscellaneous          1967-1973

Series 8: Subjects, 1968-1970

4          16          Architectural students          1969
4          17          Contractors/developers          1969-1970
4          18          Legislative          1968-1969
4          19          Welfare          1968-1969
4          20          Zoning          1969-1970

Series 9: Miscellaneous, 1969-1977

4          21          Miscellaneous          1969-1977