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Howard L. Barnes research on Northeast Philadelphia history


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

Howard Lee Barnes (1909-1996) was a resident and historian of Frankford, a neighborhood in Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Known as "Mr. Frankford," Barnes was a self-taught scholar and served as curator of the Historical Society of Frankford for nearly thirty years. He compiled a history of the Frankford Yellow Jackets, Philadelphia's first National Football League team and predecessor to the Philadelphia Eagles. Barnes also wrote about the history of Frankford as well.

Barnes was born in Frankford and spent his life there, except for three years of military service as a military investigator during World War II. In 1935, Barnes married Blanche M. Osborne. He worked as a chief investigator for the City of Philadelphia's water department for thirteen years. After leaving the water department, Barnes worked at Frankford Friends School, where his duties included maintenance work, planning bus routes, and driving a bus. While working at Frankford Friends School, he began to spend time at the Frankford Historical Society, located across the street from the school. Barnes would go on to serve as Curator of the Historical Society of Frankford for nearly thirty years.

In 1976, Barnes retired and began presenting on the history of Frankford to school children and community groups with the help of his wife, Blanche, until she passed away in 1980. Barnes suffered four heart attacks in 1985, spurring him to complete his goal of compiling a history of the Frankford Yellow Jackets. He also went on to compile a History of Frankford. Barnes became sought-after as a resource by local university and high school students, advising multiple thesis-writing history students.

Howard Barnes passed away in 1996 from a heart condition and is interred at North Cedar Hill Cemetery.


Wallace, Andy. "Howard L. Barnes, 86, Frankford Historian." Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pa.), September 25, 2015.

Wiegand, Ginny. "He's the Chronicler of Frankford History." Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pa.), October 26, 1986.

This collection consists primarily of Barnes' research on Northeast Philadelphia, which largely focuses on the neighborhood of Frankford and includes a subject file, handwritten and typed notes, photographs, whole issues of newspapers and newspaper clippings, photocopies of secondary-source materials, and some printed matter. The research materials in the collection are likely a combination of research Barnes undertook on his own, as well as a part of his involvement at the Historical Society of Frankford. The collection also includes a very small amount of Barnes' personal papers.

The subject files are in an expandable file folder and organized alphabetically by topic. Materials in the subject file include photographs, newspaper clippings, hand and typewritten notes, booklets, maps, and at least one primary source document from 1874.

The small amount of personal materials in the collection includes awards and materials related to Barnes' service in and discharge from the Air Force during World War II.

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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