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Fireman's Hall Museum photograph and scrapbook collection


Held at: Fireman's Hall Museum [Contact Us]147 North 2nd Street, Philadelphia, PA , 19106

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Fireman's Hall Museum. 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

"The Philadelphia Fire Department's mission is to protect the public safety by quick and professional response to emergencies and through the promotion of sound emergency prevention measures. This mandate encompasses all traditional firefighting functions, including fire suppression, with 60 engine and 30 ladder companies deployed throughout the City; specialized firefighting units for the City's two airports and the Port of Philadelphia; investigations conducted by the Fire Marshall's Office to determine the origins of fires and to develop preventative strategies; prevention programs to educate the public in order to increase overall fire safety; and support services such as research and planning, management of the Fire Communications Center within the City's 911 system, and operation of the Fire Academy.

"Ordinances of 1840, 1855, and 1856 established a City Fire Department which was a voluntary association of independent fire companies which, in return for subsidies, accepted the direction of City Councils. An ordinance of 29 December 1870, established Philadelphia's first fully paid and municipally-controlled Fire Department, administered by seven Commissioners chosen by Councils. The Commissioners were abolished and the department placed under the control of the Department of Public Safety as the Bureau of Fire in 1887 in compliance with the 1885 Bullitt Bill and enabling ordinance of 1886. The Fire Marshal, first appointed on 1864, was a member of the Bureau of Police until 1937 when his office was removed from it and placed directly under the Director of the Department of Public Safety. In 1950 it was transferred to the Bureau of Fire. The City Charter of 1951 abolished the Department of Public Safety and established the present Fire Department. At that time its inspectorial duties were transferred to the Department of Licenses and Inspections. On 14 February 1972, the Office of Emergency Preparedness, which had been organized in January 1952 as the Philadelphia Civil Defense Council, with the Mayor as Director, merged with the Fire Department and the Office was placed under the direct jurisdiction of the Fire Commissioner."


Quoted text from: City of Philadelphia Department of Records. "Agency Information: Fire Department (Record group 74)." November 8, 2000. Accessed May 10, 2012.

This collection is comprised of photographs and scrapbooks collected by the Fireman's Hall Museum. The photographs depict Philadelphia fire fighters and fire fighting companies, fire incidents, fire-fighting equipment and apparatus, and other related subjects. Most of the photographs are original, but some are reproductions.

The bulk of the photographs in this collection are stored in vertical files and arranged by subject. Photographs pertaining to particular stations in the Philadelphia Fire Department are organized by Engine/Ladder/Battalion number. Other photographs are filed by more general topics--a list of which topics is available on site--such as: "Communications," "Dogs," "Fire Boats," "Fire Prevention," "Honorary Chiefs," "Laurel Hill Cemetery," etc.

The collection also includes groupings of photographs and photograph albums which have not been integrated into the vertical files, on topics such as the victims of the 1910 Bodine fire and the Hero Thrill Show. Framed photographs depicting fire companies, fire incidents, and fire fighters are on display throughout the museum.

The scrapbooks in the collection include: Charles P. Carlson of Fire Patrol #1, 1907-1927; William R. Hausmann clippings (2 volumes) circa 1938-1956; unidentified clippings scrapbook, circa 1937-1938; three unidentified scrapbooks on fires; two newspaper clippings scrapbooks, circa 1904; and a scrapbook of Mexico City fire department (Central Bomberos), 1974 by John Fought and LeeAnn Draud.

Photographs collected at various times by the Fireman's Hall Museum.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2011-2012 as part of a pilot project conducted by the Historical Society of Pennsylvania to make better known and more accessible the largely hidden collections of small, primarily volunteer run repositories in the Philadelphia area. The Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories (HCI-PSAR) was funded by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

This is a preliminary finding aid. No physical processing, rehousing, reorganizing, or folder listing was accomplished during the HCI-PSAR project.

In some cases, more detailed inventories or finding aids may be available on-site at the repository where this collection is held; please contact Fireman's Hall Museum directly for more information.

Fireman's Hall Museum
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza through the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories
This preliminary finding aid was created as part of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Hidden Collections Initiative for Pennsylvania Small Archival Repositories. The HCI-PSAR project was made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
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