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Frankford Hospital 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

In 1902, Joseph Ball, a physician in the Frankford neighborhood of Northeast Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tried to admit a patient of his with typhoid to one of the city's hospitals, but none of them had an available bed. When, Dr. Ball learned that other physicians in the Northeast area of Philadelphia were also having patients turned away from city hospitals, he, with his colleague, Dr. Charles P. Brady of Fox Chase, began an effort to establish a community hospital to serve the Northeast area.

Due to a state law prohibiting the building of any new hospitals, cemeteries, or slaughter houses within the city limits of Philadelphia, Dr. Ball and Dr. Brady began to serve the community as the Frankford Medical Dispensary in 1902. In rented rooms at 2360 Orthodox Street, the two of them treated three hundred and four patients in six months. Three other local doctors also came to lend their expertise to the philanthropic operation.

In the Spring of 1903, following the repeal of the state law prohibiting new hospitals, Dr. Ball was able to obtain a charter for Frankford Hospital. A location was secured at the corner of Penn and Sellers Streets at the old Sidebotham house. Dr. Ball and Dr. Brady were joined by four other doctors, forming the original hospital staff of six. In the first ninety days of operation, over 3,000 patients were treated at Frankford Hospital, and the staff was expanded to eleven doctors and two additional consulting physicians. A training school for nurses attached to the hospital was opened in 1904.

The hospital was originally governed by a board consisting of Dr. Ball, Dr. Brady, and the other four doctors that were on the original staff. In 1904, the physicians resigned from the board and the direction of the hospital was turned over to lay members. The first president of the board was John M. Mack, who served until 1915.

By 1906, Frankford Hospital was quickly outgrowing its location on Sellers Street. The Trustees of the Hospital purchased the property of John W. Wilbraham, located at the southwest corner of Frankford Avenue and Wakeling Street. In 1910, the hospital opened a maternity wing in a row house on Frankford Avenue. By 1937, this building was replaced with a new building on Griscom Street that was later connected to the main building by way of a new wing, called the Griscom Wing, in the 1950s. An additional wing, the Korman Wing, was added in the early 1960s, and brought with it a new operating suite, modern emergency room, and an expanded laboratory facility.

Frankford Hospital opened a second location in 1970, the Torresdale Division in the far northeast section of Philadelphia. The 230-bed facility was fully occupied within eight months of opening. Frankford Hospital expanded again in 1999 when it acquired the Delaware Valley Medical Center in Bucks County, creating a third site, Frankford Hospital-Bucks County.

In 2009, Frankford Hospital changed its name to Aria Health to better reflect its expanded, regional services in Northeast Philadelphia and Bucks County. As of 2015, Aria Health was the largest healthcare provider in Northeast Philadelphia and Lower Bucks County.


Aria Health System. "Our History." Accessed November 2, 2015.

Kelly, Maurice J. Frankford Hospital: The First 75 Years, 1903-1978. Philadelphia, PA: Frankford Hospital, 1978.

This collection consists primarily of photographs, but also contains letters and memos, annual reports, and various other materials relating to Frankford Hospital, circa 1918-1990s. The photographs depict the hospital building (interiors, exteriors, various wings, and construction), administrators, board members, doctors, nurses, events, group photos of employees, and other related subjects. There is at least one contact sheet. Though the collection dates back to the 1910s, there are some photographic copies of images that pre-date 1910.

The letters and memos are mostly to and from trustees, board members, and various administrators regarding hospital matters. Annual reports include the 2nd through the 38th annual reports, 1905-1942. The collection also includes bulletins and other miscellaneous materials, such as graduation booklets, from the hospital's nursing school.

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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