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Historical Society of Frankford fire company records collection


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

There were five volunteer fire companies in the Frankford area of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the late eighteenth through late nineteenth century. Frankford Fire Company, organized in 1793, was the first fire company to be established in the area. In 1803, Frankford Fire Company reorganized into two companies: Frankford Fire Company No. 1, which was renamed Washington Fire Company, and Frankford Fire Company No. 2, which was later renamed Decatur Fire Company. Franklin Fire company was established in 1849 and the Excelsior Hook and Ladder Company was established in 1853.

All of the companies began to disband when the city-wide Philadelphia Fire Company was established in 1870. Decatur Fire Company was absorbed into the city-wide Philadelphia Fire Company and, as of 2015, exists as Philadelphia's Engine No. 7. Washington Fire Company was also absorbed into the city and became Philadelphia's Engine No. 14, which still operates as of 2015.


Dixon, William B. The Pamphlet of the Historical Society of Frankford for 1911. Philadelphia, PA: 1911.

Historical Society of Frankford. "The First Fire-Engine Company, Part 1." In Papers Read before the Society. Frankford, Philadelphia, PA: 1912.

The fire company records in the Library Collection of the Historical Society of Frankford consists of twenty-eight volumes of meeting minutes, financial records, and membership records of the five volunteer fire companies that were established in the Frankford area from 1793 through 1853. The companies were in operation until the early 1870s, when they began to disband following the establishment of the city-wide Philadelphia fire department in 1870.

The records contain information on the administrative aspects of the companies' operations - proceedings of meetings, finances, upkeep of equipment and buildings, and membership matters. There is little information in the records on the fires that occurred or on how fires were fought. There is, however, much information on local residents and on how the companies were structured and how they operated. A few of the volumes have name indexes.

In addition to the volunteer company records, there are two volumes of the engine company records of the Philadelphia Fire Department, 1914 and 1923-1925. There are daily log books that include minute by minute notes on the activities and operations of the two engine companies.

The records were cataloged by the Historical Society of Frankford sometime in the early to mid twentieth century. They were included in a group of records entitled "Books of Record" in which each volume was given a "Book" number (B-1, B-2, etc.). In 2006, the volumes were reorganized by HSF Intern Latanya Jenkins into record groups and series according to archival arrangement principles and this finding aid was prepared to facilitate their use.

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 the Historical Society of Frankford directly for more information.

Historical Society of Frankford
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Latanya N. Jenkins and updated and encoded in EAD by 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 Historical Society of Frankford for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

Minutes (Old Catalog #B-101), 1793-1803.

Minutes (Old Catalog #B-99), 1803-1817.
Minutes (Old Catalog #B-98), 1817-1847.
Minutes (Old Catalog #B-103), 1848-1871.
Minutes of the Washington Engine Company of Frankford, Philadelphia (Old Catalog #B-102), 1871-1873.
Minutes of the Board of Directors of the Washington Steam Fire Engine Company of Frankford (Old Catalog #B-105), 1865-1871.
Account book for the Subscription for the purchase of a new Fire House (Old Catalog #A4d F-84), 1834.
Account book (No Old Catalog #), 1836-1845.
Treasurer receipt book (Old Catalog #B-61), 1870-1873.

Minutes (Old Catalog #B-100), 1803-1844.
Minutes (Old Catalog #B-89), 1845-1858.
Minutes (Old Catalog #B-90), 1859-1875.
Minutes, Board of Directors (Old Catalog #B-95), 1851-1858.
Minutes, Board of Directors (No Old Catalog #), 1859-1864.
Account book (Old Catalog #B-104), 1803-1832.
Account book (Old Catalog #B-94), 1847-1866.
Account book (Old Catalog #B-92), 1867-1875.
Member's account book (No Old Catalog #), 1853-1854, 1861-1863.
Treasurer receipt book (Old Catalog #B-64), 1847-1861.
Treasurer receipt book (Old Catalog #B-97), 1865-1875.
Roll & account book (Old Catalog #B-93), 1845-1849, 1851-1853.
Membership proposal & acceptance book (Old Catalog #B-96), 1864-1870.
Rules (Old Catalog #B-91), 1852-1870.

Minute book (Old Catalog #B-108), 1869-1873.
Membership propositions & reports (Old Catalog #B-109), 1849-1874.

Minute book (Old Catalog #B-58), 1853-1871.
Dues book (Old Catalog #B-60), 1860-1871.
Roll book (Old Catalog #B-59), 1854, 1861, 1864-1871.

Journal (No Old Catalog #), 1914.
Journal (No Old Catalog #), 1923-1925.

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