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Historical Society of Frankford small collections of Frankford organizational and business records


Held at: Historical Society of Frankford [Contact Us]1507 Orthodox St., Philadelphia, PA, 19124

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Frankford. 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 Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is located in the lower northeast section of the city and is bordered by the Frankford Creek on the south, Castor Avenue on the west, Cheltenham Avenue on the north, and roughly the I-95 expressway on the east. Originally a village, Frankford was incorporated as a borough in 1800 and was later absorbed into the City of Philadelphia in the 1854 Philadelphia city/county consolidation.

The area now known as Frankford was originally inhabited by the Lenni-Lenape Indians and later settled by Swedes, who started a village and gristmill in the 1660s. The village grew significantly after William Penn founded Pennsylvania in 1682 and members of the Religious Society of Friends, commonly called Quakers, established a meeting in Frankford. The village was part of a large tract of land known as the "Manor of Frank" that was granted to the Society of Free Traders, a group of mostly London-based Quaker businessmen that was led by William Penn. A well-used Indian trail in the area became known as the King's Highway in 1683 and was later renamed Frankford Avenue, one of the oldest country roads in continuous use in the nation. The location along the King's Highway was a significant factor in Frankford's growth as an important center of commerce and trade.

During the 19th century, Frankford became a thriving manufacturing center. Immigrants of English and German descent settled in the area, opening textile, powder, grist, and other mills along Frankford Creek. These mills, along with Frankford's commercial growth, attracted farmers from neighboring townships who sought mills to process their raw materials and farm products. The first textile mill was erected by Samuel Martin in 1809 and in 1820 Samuel Pilling established the first mill for the block printing of calico. The first dye house in Frankford was established in 1821 and in 1843 the first mill run by steam power in Frankford was started by Richard and John Garsed. The nearby Frankford Arsenal was constructed by the federal government following the War of 1812 and completed in the 1820s.

With the development of industry in Frankford, its population grew quickly with immigrant workers. In addition to mill workers, free African Americans settled in Frankford, establishing fraternal and religious institutions, including Campbell African Methodist Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1807 and is one of the oldest AME churches in the nation. A number of churches were established in Frankford in the 18th and 19th centuries, serving the area's various religious denominations and ethnic groups. In 1831 the first savings and loan institution in the United States, Oxford Provident Building Association, was created in Frankford to assist local workers in purchasing homes.

In 1854, the Borough of Frankford, along with the various townships, districts, and boroughs within the County of Philadelphia at that time, was annexed into the city of Philadelphia through the Act of Consolidation. After consolidation, Frankford continued to grow, as the area became increasingly industrialized and numerous mills, predominantly in the textile industry, opened. By 1869, there were forty major manufacturers in the area. In 1867, the Globe Dye Works was opened by Richard Greenwood and William Bault. Immigrants continued to move to Frankford to work in the factories and churches and schools continued to be established in the area. Vacant-farmland was developed into Victorian twin homes and rows of smaller homes to meet the needs of the mill workers and a growing middle-class.

Construction of the Frankford Elevated Railway, connecting Frankford to Center City and West Philadelphia, was completed in 1922. Frankford Transportation Center became the terminal station for the line and helped Frankford grow as a major shopping district in the early 20th century. Industry in Frankford declined markedly after World War II, part of the overall de-industrialization of Philadelphia that occurred in the post-war period. Most of Frankford's manufacturing companies closed or left the area in the latter part of the 20th century.

As middle class families began to migrate to the far northeastern parts of the city or to the suburbs outside of Philadelphia in the later 20th century, African American and Asian families began to settle in Frankford. As of 2015, Frankford is a working-class neighborhood with a diverse population, including a large number of African Americans, Asian Americans, Polish Americans, Italian Americans, Hispanic Americans, and West Indian Americans.


Auwarter, Barbara M. and Joyce Halley. "Frankford." Workshop of the World. Wallingford, PA: Oliver Evans Press, 1990. Accessed November 2, 2015.

Harris, Brian H. Images of America: Frankford. Charleston, SC: Arcadia, 2005. Historical Society of Frankford. "History." Accessed November 2, 2015.

Sadler, Diane. "Frankford." Historical Northeast Philadelphia. Accessed November 2, 2015.

Smalarz, Matthew. "Northeast Philadelphia." The Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia. Accessed November 2, 2015.

This collection is comprised of small amounts of materials collected by the Historical Society of Frankford relating to various organizations and businesses in the Frankford neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from the early 19th century to the late 20th century. It includes scrapbooks, financial records, administrative materials, certificates, minute books, letter books, and other materials. A partial inventory of these materials is given below.

American Red Cross Southeast Pennsylvania Chapter Auxiliary No. 12 in Frankford minute book, 1917-1920s Brotherhood of American Independence Circle No. 38 account book, 1918-1923 Comly Brothers financial ledger, 1869 Crescentville Memorial Association minutes, 1895-1903 Frankford and Reading Railroad expenditures, 1894-1914 Frankford arsenal materials Frankford Checker Club records, 1930s-1980 Frankford Country Club Golf Committee minute book, 1901-1902 Frankford Dye Works account books, 1852-1860, 1855-1864 Frankford Germantown Turnpike Company account book, 1854-1904 Frankford Lyceum minute book, 1836-1866 Frankford Lyceum stock and real estate account book, 1840-1866 Frankford Ministerium minutes, 1951-1968 Frankford Philanthropic Society minutes, 1814-1838 Frankford Soup and Relief Association check stubs, 1855-1860 Holmesburg Improvement Associate minute book, 1909-1915 Horrocks Brothers disbursement book, 1833-1848 Horrocks Brothers letter book, circa 1880s Jerusalem Conclave minutes, 1869-1882 Ladies auxiliary of Young Men's Christian Association of Frankford minutes, 1888-1892 Lewis and Bevan Packing Box Manufacturers account book, 1833-1885 Onward Club minute book, 1876-1878 OWAM Resolution Council No. 4 minute book, 1859-1868 Oxford and Lower Dublin Poorhouse cashbook, 1809-1818 Peter Slaughter account and rent books, 19th century Philadelphia Criminal Court Records minutes, 1863-1875 Philadelphia Gas Works account book of meter readings 2nd district, 1894-1895 Philadelphia Gas Works subscription book for Bridesburg and Whitehall, 1867-1893 Philadelphia Gas Works subscription books for Frankford, 1861-1882 Philadelphia Society for Organizing Charity, Frankford Branch account book, 1879-1915 Quaker City Paper Company paper samples Soldiers, Sailors, and Marines Beneficial Union minute books , 1866-1874 Symphony Society of Frankford records, 1947-1963 Tacony and Poquessing Plank Road Company minutes, 1854-1860 The Borough of Frankford cash book 1813-1827 The Borough of Frankford Tax duplicates, 1849-1851 Unidentified account book, 1866-1870 Unidentified jeweler account book, 1828-1875 Unidentified mill account books, 1851-1853, 1856-1858 Union Adult Society of Philadelphia by-laws and constitution, 1818 United Spanish War Veterans, Lieutenant Colonel Henry T. Dechert Camp No. 80, Pennsylvania materials, 1917-1950s Women's Literary Club of Frankford Executive Committee meeting minutes, 1934-1963 Women's Literary Club of Frankford meeting minutes, 1912-1917, 1918-1924, 1931-1935, 1986-1988 Women's Literary Club of Frankford records, 1924-1986 Women's Literary Club of Frankford scrapbook, 1934-1976

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2014-2016 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 Historical Society of Frankford directly for more information.

Historical Society of Frankford
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Sarah Leu and Anastasia Matijkiw 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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