George A. Foreman scrapbooks on the Philadelphia Transportation Company
Held at: Historical Society of Pennsylvania [Contact Us]1300 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19107
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
George Albright Foreman was born December 10, 1881 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and he died August 8, 1950 in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania at age 69. He is buried in West Laurel Hill Cemetery in Bala Cynwyd, Pennsylvania. Foreman was a conductor, motorman, depot clerk, and depot dispatcher for the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) and its successor the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) for thirty-seven years until his retirement in 1947. For the majority of this time he worked on the Market-Frankford line.
The Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) was established in 1940 via a merger of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT) and several smaller independent transit companies operating in or near Philadelphia. The PTC operated buses, trolleys, the Market-Frankford Line, the Broad Street Line, and the Delaware River Bridge Line. Over time it replaced many trolley lines with buses, particularly during the 1950s. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA), established in 1964, acquired PTC on September 30, 1968.
The Red Arrow lines include the current SEPTA Routes 101 and 102, originally built by the Philadelphia and West Chester Traction Company in 1913 and 1906 respectively and purchased by the Philadelphia Suburban Transit Company in 1954. In addition, there were two other now defunct Red Arrow trolley Lines, one to West Chester and one to Ardmore, both of which ceased operating by the 1960s.
The George A. Foreman scrapbooks on the Philadelphia Transportation Company consist of eighteen volumes pertaining primarily to the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) and its employees, services, and equipment. The PTC was the main public transit operator in Philadelphia from 1940 to 1968. The vast majority of the photographs were taken by Charles Martini, another PTC employee, in the early 1940s. The photos are of PTC employees at work but also include Philadelphia transit scenes and views of the city from the Market-Frankford El. Most of the photographs include annotations by Foreman about the person, location, or object depicted. They shed light on local public transit, working conditions, social customs, fashions, urban living, and advertising particularly throughout the 1940s. They also show the evolution of Philadelphia during this same time.
In addition to the photographs, there are many newspaper clippings in the albums, primarily from the Evening Bulletin and Public Ledger. Although the majority of these are obituaries of friends and colleagues, there are also clippings of articles profiling PTC employees, including Dorothy E. Williams, who became the first woman motorman in the history of the PTC in 1943. The volumes also contain holiday cards received by Foreman over the years, letters from coworkers serving in the military during World War II, photos of billboard advertisements, promotional materials for public transit companies, postcards received from friends and colleagues, and other ephemera.
The postcards are contained almost exclusively in two volumes (Volumes 5 and 14) and many are annotated with information about the sender. Finally, there is one volume (Volume 3) that is unrelated to the PTC. It contains photos of the Johnstown flood of 1936 in Cambria County, Pennsylvania clipped from a book on the subject.
Gift of George A. Foreman, 1950.
- Advertising, Outdoor--United States--History--20th century
- Floods--Pennsylvania--Johnstown (Cambria County)
- Local transit--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--History--20th century
- Local transit--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia
- Photograph albums--1930-1950
- Photograph albums
- Transportation--Pennsylvania--Philadelphia--History—20th century
- Work environment—Pennsylvania—Philadelphia—History—20th century
- Historical Society of Pennsylvania
- Finding Aid Author
- Finding aid prepared by Mark D. Carnesi.
- Finding Aid Date
- ; 2016.
- Use Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
The date range of the volume is 1937 to 1948 with the bulk of the items from 1940 to 1948. The contents of the volume include holiday cards from 1946 and 1947 and an undated get well letter to Foreman that contains a reference to Mrs. Foreman, the first indication in the collection that he was married. The volume also contains two photos of Charles Martini, the Philadelphia Transportation Company (PTC) employee who took the vast majority of photographs in these albums. There are also obituaries of PTC employees, some with annotations mentioning membership in societies such as the Mystic Cross Comandry #98 of the Ancient and Illustrious Order of Knights of Malta. Finally, there is a card dated December 30, 1946 to “#70 George Albright Foreman at his retirement from service after 37 years.” Foreman officially retired from the PTC in 1947.
The date range of the volume is 1940 to 1949 and its contents are quite varied. It contains holiday cards, mostly from 1946 and 1947, and newspaper clippings from the Evening Bulletin and Public Ledger including obituaries for PTC employees, an article profiling a female cashier, and articles on the history of railroads in the area. There are short bios of PTC employees (many with photographs missing) detailing the positions they held, where they lived, and personal interests such as “fond of Gilbert and Sullivan” or a member in a particular lodge. Additionally, there is a handwritten index of local railroads in the area and a photograph of A. A. Mitten, who succeeded his father Thomas E. Mitten as president of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company (PRT), the predecessor of PTC.
The date range of this volume is 1936, and it is quite different than the rest of the collection. The first page says “Johnstown Cambria Co dt. (?) Pennsylvania Johnstown’s Second Great Flood March 17- 1936 by Ben Coll published by Harry M. Hamm 3363 Portola Ave Pittsburgh 14 Pa.” The actual book title is Photo Story of Johnstown’s Second Great Flood March 17, 1936. The first seven or eight pages of the volume, although in Foreman’s handwriting, do in fact appear to be taken from the book. The remainder of the volume contains photographs of the flood likely clipped from this book (although possibly from another source) with annotations by Foreman, who mentions having been in Johnstown on May 15, 1936.
The date range of this volume is 1940 to 1947. The volume contains studio portraits of PTC executives, including Ralph T. Senter, president of the Philadelphia Transportation Company at the time. There are photos of a farewell banquet held in April 1940 for John Wesley Frazier, Superintendent of Transportation, including one showing all the women employees. As he does on many occasions, Foreman credits Charles Martini for most of the candid photographs, including several of a conductor and motorman named Hiram Smith who Foreman refers to as “Philosopher.” Additionally, there are more holiday cards from 1946 and 1947, a get well card to Mr. Foreman dated 1944, and pages with names written at the top or bottom from which the photographs are missing.
The date range of this volume is roughly 1936 to 1948. This volume contains postcards and ephemera from holiday trips to Mount Vernon and other locations in Virginia; plus Vermont and Rhode Island; Toronto and Quebec; Valley Forge and Harrisburg; Geneva, New York, Rockford, Illinois, and Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia; Washington, DC; and other locations. As is the case with Volume 65, there are no photos of trains or train lines. Also, while some items are from trips Foreman took himself, other items were sent to him by friends and colleagues, primarily Carrie Virginia Pryott née Hankins. Finally, in one annotation Foreman states “Many pictures of Harper’s Ferry may be found in biography of George Albright Foreman #70.” It is unclear to what “biography” he is referring.
The date range of this volume is 1936 to 1949 with bulk dates being 1936 to 1945. Dating from 1949 is an article from the Evening Bulletin entitled “Who owned the old horse car lines in Philadelphia?” Otherwise, similar to Volume 7 (formerly Volume 103) in that it mostly contains annotated photographs of PTC employees. There are several photos of musicians in the PTC band, including one in his band uniform and another with an annotation saying “He plays the piccolo.” Finally, as he does throughout the collection Foreman refers to himself as “#70.” This is likely not a PTC employee number as he uses numbering elsewhere in the collection, including for individuals who are not PTC employees.
The volume appears to have been compiled in 1949 although the date range of the photographs is 1939 to approximately 1941 as numerous annotations indicate photos were taken by Charles Martini “prior to World War II.” The volume consists mostly of photographs of PTC employees in and out of uniform, including conductors, motormen, yardmen, shopmen, yardmasters, special officers, and clerks, typists, or stenographers (all of the latter women). One annotation indicates the subject “disappeared prior to Selective Service World War II leaving no trail. Returned after it was over claimed he was in merchant marine.” Another indicates “Deceased prior to 1949” so the album was compiled and annotated years after the photographs were taken.
The date range of the volume appears to be 1939 to 1941, and many of the pages are entitled “PTC Elevated & Subway Views.” There are numerous posed/portrait photos of PTC employees taken by Charles Martini, including photographs of waitresses at The Tasty Inn, a restaurant at the 69th Street Terminal. Also included are photographs of a car fire in the 69th Street Terminal parking lot; of the first double-decker buses to be used for Walnut Street routes on display in the 69th Street lot; and of views of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Station (“B&O Station”) at 24th and Chestnut Streets, designed by Frank Furness.
Few photographs are annotated, but those that are indicate that they were taken around 1940. Many of the annotated photos indicate Charles Martini was the photographer. One photograph shows PTC employees “picking runs” in the 69th Street run room, a process still used today at SEPTA. Also, in several photographs Foreman distinguishes between Market Street trains (operational since 1907) and Frankford Line trains (operational since 1922). Additionally, there are photographs of the remains of the Market Street spur that ran north/south along the Delaware River between Market and South Streets where passenger ferries departed. Finally, this volume contains one of the few photographs of an African-American PTC employee in uniform, although it is unclear what his position was.
Very few photographs in this volume are annotated but those that are indicate a date range of 1940 to 1941. There are several photos of automobiles in the “park and ride” lot at 69th Street Terminal, which serviced several different companies including PTC, Philadelphia Suburban Transportation Company (also known as Red Arrow), and Philadelphia and Western Railway, one of whose lines is now the SEPTA Norristown High Speed Line. There are photographs of employees in a trainmen’s room (with engineers and motormen identifiable by their overalls); elevated stations on the Market-Frankford Line in West Philadelphia and at 24th Street (the underground portal at that time being at 22nd Street, further east than today); and a large Horn & Hardart Automat sign being painted on a building near 52nd Street Station.
This volume consists entirely of clippings, some from newspapers but most from what seem to be promotional materials for Red Arrow. None of the clippings are annotated by Foreman, but based on captions the date rage is approximately 1941. There are clippings of street scenes in the vicinity of 69th Street Terminal, many with trolleys in motion; of residential neighborhoods, some newly-built; and of profiles of Red Arrow employees such as John F. (Jack) Hammond, Superintendent of Transportation, as well as Master Mechanic Edgar J. Patterson. There are also views of the repair garage at 69th Street; maps showing rail lines going west from 69th Street Terminal then north and south; photos of the interior and exterior of various models of buses and trolleys; and photos of the interior of 69th Street Terminal.
The date range of this volume is 1936 to 1948 with the bulk being 1944 to 1948. There is one obituary from 1936. This volume is missing numerous photos, but does contain holiday cards from 1946 and 1947, obituaries on PTC employees, and correspondence addressed to Foreman from two PTC colleagues serving overseas during World War II (worth noting the letters do not appear to be redacted). Also of interest is the annotation for the first page, which lists the societies and orders the individuals belonged to as follows: Cassia Lodge #273, St. Alban Comandry #47 Knight’s Templar, Mystic Cross sisterhood #98 Dames of Malta. Finally, Mrs. Gertrude Cooke Foreman, Mr. Foreman’s wife, is mentioned again.
The date range of this volume is 1877 to 1949 with the bulk being 1940 to 1949. The item from 1877 is a handwritten poem by Maggie A. Brady apparently from the album of Martha Albright. There are also numerous photos and newspaper clippings from the Evening Bulletin regarding Dorothy E. Williams, the “first woman El motorman in the history of the Philadelphia Transportation Company.” Additionally, there are photos and correspondence dated 1942 to 1946 of Master Sergeant Frederick A. Young, a PTC colleague who served in the Pacific theater. Finally, there are articles and photographs of Charles Boileau, a retired employee who died in 1949 at 105.
The date range of this volume is approximately 1935 to 1949. As is the case with Volume 5 (formerly Volume 97) this contains no images of trains but rather travel-related postcards and other ephemera. Some of the ephemera appear to be from trips Foreman took himself while others were sent to him by PTC friends and colleagues. There are illustrated scenes of Pennsylvania including views of Huntingdon, Gettysburg, Lebanon, and State College, plus photographs of Lycoming County from the July 1935 issue of National Geographic; contemporary and historic photographs of Philadelphia produced as part of a promotional campaign by Singer and Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machines; illustrations of New Jersey including Atlantic City, Ocean City, and Wildwood; illustrations of New York City including Grand Central Terminal; and assorted postcards from Miami, New Hampshire, Maine, and other locations. Finally, Foreman again mentions a “biography of George Albright Foreman #70.”
The date range of this volume is 1940 to approximately 1946 as one photograph was taken “after close of WWII.” The volume consists mainly of photographs of PTC employees at work and play, as well as a cat resting on a counter in a stationhouse. However, only some photos are annotated. Many of the annotated photographs include job titles of the individuals pictured but do not include personal names. Job titles listed include depot dispatcher, stationman, operating manager, and others. A number of women are pictured, as is one of the few African Americans to appear in the collection, Sylvester Nash, an elevated porter photographed in 1940. Unlike the others, Mr. Nash’s personal autograph appears below his photo in the album.
Only some photographs have annotations and those that do indicate that the photos date from around 1941. There are numerous photos of employees as well as street scenes taken from various elevated platforms, including one from 29th and Market with a large Sunkist billboard in the foreground and City Hall visible in the distance. One photo dated March 13, 1941 states “Subway-Elevated Employees – Members of PRT Employees Union cast their ballots for Union Delegates away from company premises,” and the next photo, taken the following day, states “Votes for Women – elevated cashiers take a lively interest in electing delegates to PRT Co. Union.” In both cases it is interesting to note the PRT designation considering that PRT ceased to exist on January 1, 1940 when it was replaced by PTC. Finally, there is a rare appearance by Foreman himself (albeit from behind) in a photograph taken at 69th Street Terminal which references “depot dispatcher Geo A. Foreman.”
The date range of this volume is 1936 to 1941 with the bulk of the items from 1941. The images from 1936 are promotional photographs for the Delaware River Bridge Speed Line. Many of the photographs from 1941 have a heading saying “PTC: Elevated and Subway Views” and include, among other things, photos of the interior of 69th Street Terminal at rush hour; dogwood trees in bloom and boys swimming in Cobb’s Creek; the West Philadelphia Boxing Center; the “new” U.S. Post Office at 29th and 30th Streets; and numerous views of the Delaware River suspension bridge (now Benjamin Franklin Bridge). Finally, there are photos of unidentified individuals at rest or play, mostly men but also some women, including a soda fountain waitress in uniform and a cashier at rest in her booth.
The date range of this volume is 1906 to 1941, with the bulk of the items from 1941. The earlier photographs are reproductions of photographs from 1906 to 1908 showing various trains, stations (including 69th Street Terminal), passengers, etc. In addition, there are many pages entitled “PTC: Elevated and Subway Views” that include photos of different neighborhoods and settings, such as a “New York bound streamliner;” a garden party and benefit “as seen from westbound elevated train;” views of Cobb’s Creek in winter; numerous billboard advertisements; 69th Street Terminal decorated for the holidays; and a blizzard on March 3, 1941 that greatly impacted PTC service. Finally, a photograph of a building fire taken from an elevated train is annotated “due to Charles Martini always on the job for interesting sights and having his trusty camera loaded…”