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Historical Society of Tacony Henry Disston & Sons, Inc. 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

Henry Disston was born in Tewkesbury, England in 1819 to Thomas and Ann Harrod Disston. He came to Philadelphia in 1833, and began to make saws in 1840. Despite many setbacks and difficulties Disston eventually was successful, and in 1849 started his own company. In 1871 he began to move his saw works from the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia to Tacony. He sought to develop an utopian family-centered community in Tacony for his workers. He built affordable housing, and also funded the building of schools, churches, and a library. The company became one of the leading suppliers of saws and files in the United States and continues today to produce these same items as Disston Precision.


Disston, Jacob S., Jr. "Henry Disston (1819-1878): Pioneer Industrialist Inventor and Good Citizen." Accessed September 23, 2011.

This collection includes reprints and originals of Disston company catalogs, 1876-1944; the company newsletter, "Disston Bits," 1912-1920; historical and modern photographs; photocopies of original manuscript documents; and three lantern slides of tools. The highlights of this collection are the first real estate sales book belonging to Henry Disston, 1873-1894, and an original "Plan of Building Lots Belonging to Henry Disston and Sons at Tacony, June 1882" by George Webster (although it is in extremely poor condition).

The Historical Society of Tacony owns numerous saws and other artifacts associated with the Disston Company, but they are not considered a part of this archival collection.

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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