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Historical Society of Tacony local history collection


Held at: Historical Society of Tacony [Contact Us]4819 Longshore Avenue, Philadelphia, PA, 19135

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Historical Society of Tacony. 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

Tacony is a historic neighborhood located in Northeast Philadelphia. Tacony gained recognition in 1846 when the Philadelphia and Trenton Railroad built a Ferry Wharf to transfer passengers to downtown Philadelphia by steam-boat. In 1872, Henry Disston bought a large tract of land in the area to which he moved his saw mill, which became the world's largest saw manufacturer. Disston also sought to develop a "utopian" residential community in Tacony for his workers, and funded the building of schools, churches, and a library. The Tacony Iron and Metal Works became famous for crafting the dome and statue of William Penn which now sits atop City Hall in downtown Philadelphia. An important resident of Tacony was Frank Shuman (1862-1918), an inventor whose most notable inventions were wired safety glass and the first solar power steam engine.

This collection of subject files on local history topics was compiled largely by Louis M. Iatarola in the 1990s and early 2000s. The files cover a wide range of subjects including: local schools, such as Our Lady of Consolation, Lincoln High School, and Disston School; churches, such as Tacony Baptist Church; businesses, such as the Tacony Iron and Metal Works, Dodge Steel Company, and Insinger Machine Company; public spaces, such as the Library, Post Office, and Pennypack Park; nearby neighborhoods, such as Holmesburg, Mayfair, and Frankford; and transportation lines, such as the Philadelphia Railroad, "the Hop, Toad, and Frog Line" (Holmesburg, Tacony & Frankford Railroad Company), and I-95. There are also files on special topics such as a "War on Graffiti," Tacony History Day events, the hurricane of 1911, local politics, fraternal organizations, "Tacony making headlines," local politics, and Tacony individuals.

The subject files primarily consist of newspaper clippings and printouts of internet articles, circa 2000-2010; and photographs, some original but mostly copies, of scenery, buildings, events, and group portraits of classes and sports teams,1860-2011. The files also contain some ephemera.

Of special interest are about 50 employment cards from Dodge Steel Company, 1924-1964. The cards are incredibly rich in detail: they list address, marital status, languages spoken, parents' birthplaces, previous employment, and wage history at Dodge Steel, among other information; they also include photographs of the employees. Another highlight of the collection is a proposal, printed by the Tacony Manufacturer's Association in December 1921, to hold Philadelphia's Sesquicentennial celebration in Pennypack Park. There is also a photocopy of a record of births delivered by local doctor David R. Umstead, 1907-1915, that may also interest researchers.

This collection was largely compiled by Louis M. Iatarola, 1990s-2011.

Historical Society of Tacony
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Michael Gubicza 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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