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Bruce Conner collection on Philadelphia history


Held at: Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History [Contact Us]8732 Krewstown Rd, Philadelphia, PA, 19115

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History. 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

Bruce M. Conner (1951-2011) was a local historian and resident of Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During his lifetime Conner amassed a large collection of items relating to Northeast Philadelphia history and was instrumental in raising awareness of endangered historic buildings in the area and leading the efforts to preserve them. As an avid supporter of preserving the history and historic buildings of the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhoods, Conner was actively involved in many local history organizations and established the Friends of Lower Dublin Academy in 2008. After Conner's death, the Friends of Lower Dublin Academy transitioned into the Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History.

Bruce M. Conner, born in 1951, graduated from Holy Family University in Philadelphia, PA in 1976. He worked for many years as a personnel manager at the United States Navy Supply Depot in the Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood of Lawndale. In 2011, Conner died from injuries resulting from a car accident.

This collection consists of 19th and 20th century manuscripts collected by Conner as well as secondary-source research materials and papers by Conner on Northeast Philadelphia history. The manuscripts, which include ledgers, receipt books, deeds, photographs, real photo postcards, and various other documents from individuals and businesses, circa 1840s-1932, have a strong geographic focus on Northeast Philadelphia although some papers relate to other areas of Philadelphia or to surrounding counties.

Of particular interest in the collection are: Wanamaker's department store receipts, ephemera, and other materials from the late 19th and early 20th centuries; a dual copybook with letters sent (1843-1846) and accounts (1866-1869) of the business Holmes, Pennock, and Co.; a receipt book of Johnson Thomas (circa 1850s); and photographs and film negatives (originals and copies) of Northeast Philadelphia residents and scenery, including some from the William H. Sliker Photo and Arts Studio in Bridesburg, Philadelphia (circa 1920s-1930s), and some which are more recent.

There are over 300 real photo postcards in the collection, circa 1880s-1920s, many from the locally prominent Sliker Studio. These are organized by Northeast Philadelphia neighborhood: Byberry, Bridesburg, Bustleton, Fox Chase, Frankford, Holmesburg, Somerton, Tacony, Torresdale, and Wissinoming. There is also a section of images documenting a 1907 windstorm that caused much destruction in the area.

About one dozen atlases of Philadelphia and Bucks counties dating from the late nineteenth and first half of the twentieth centuries are also present in the collection.

Conner's research materials and local history papers include articles on historical topics and the process of conducting research; correspondence about Conner's research; pamphlets and ephemera from local groups with which Conner was associated, especially local history and nature preservation groups; newspaper clippings; photocopies of photographs and of newspaper clippings; and a set of research files. Also available on-site (not surveyed as part of this collection) are some local history books and other published materials owned by Conner.

Bruce Conner's collection of historical materials was dispersed after his death in 2011. The Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History was given some materials by the Conner family and purchased parts of the collection from various other sources, 2012.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 as part of a 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 Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History directly for more information.

Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Sarah Leu 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.
Access Restrictions

Contact Friends of Northeast Philadelphia History for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

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