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Bristol History photograph collection


Held at: Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library [Contact Us]680 Radcliffe St, Bristol, Pennsylvania

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library. 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

"More than three centuries have passed since the town's first European settlers occupied the 262 acres along the Delaware River now known as Bristol Borough. A major land route linking Philadelphia and New York City passed through Bristol and hotels along this road hosted a bevy of travelers when the United States capitol was located in Philadelphia just after the American Revolution. Several of the first foreign ambassadors to America selected Bristol for their homes. These homes are still standing and are part of three centuries of architecture reflected in the residences and public building of the town. The oldest known building is the Friends' (Quaker) Meeting House, built circa 1711. [From 1705-1726, Bristol (then known as "Buckingham") served as the county seat for Bucks, Pennsylvania.]

"The transportation route used by those traveling between New York City and Philadelphia was bolstered in 1834, when construction of the main railroad line connecting the two cities passed through the small river town of Bristol. This means of public transport continues today with many regional trains servicing the town each day.

"Bristol Borough has also been a site of recreation for the people of the area for centuries. The Bath Mineral Springs at Bristol were recommended by Dr. Benjamin Rush and Benjamin Franklin as an important health retreat. Silver Lake Park, located near this former mineral springs retreat and now part of the Bucks County Park System, offers a natural recreation area and nature center for people of all ages.

"A canal between Bristol and Easton, Pennsylvania, was built for the transportation of anthracite coal to deeper areas of the Delaware River and stimulated economic growth for the community between 1827 and 1931. The canal was sixty miles long, forty feet wide, and five feet deep. One of the Bristol's parks is located at the lagoon of this former canal, near the former Grundy Woolen Mill and its iconic clock tower.

"This mill is one of the most visible signs of the town's importance during the Industrial Revolution. Bristol's industrial prominence emerged following the American Civil War when an organization built factories and encouraged manufacturers to locate within the town. The first of the larger manufacturers was the Grundy Woolen Mill, which began production in 1876. Other mills followed with a variety of manufactured goods including wallpaper, ladies' garments, patent leather, fringe and braids, cast iron products, woolen rugs and carpets, hosiery, woolen cloth and wooden products. The river, canal and railroad were crucial to the shipping of both raw materials and finished goods.

"Bristol offered a ferry service that connected it to the city of Burlington, New Jersey, from its founding in 1681 until the opening of a bridge across the Delaware River in 1931. Steam boat service between Trenton, New Jersey and Philadelphia also played a key role in community development, since many lines had stops in Bristol.

"Bristol's location on both a wide river and a major shipping route further proved its worth in the early 20th century. At the time of World War I, a shipyard opened in Bristol and twelve shipways provided ample space for the construction of merchant ships. At the end of the war, the eighty acres where the shipyard was located was converted into an important aircraft factory which built amphibious planes and in the Second World War, military planes.

"Because of Bristol's location as a crossroads and due to its industrial history, the town has a long attracted and accepted a diverse citizenry. Four monuments in the riverfront park served as a reminder of the town's cultural diversity and festivals centered on ethnic heritage are held annually.

"In the past half century, Bristol has experienced a renaissance in the preservation of its historic buildings. A professional theater was opened and continues to provide theatrical productions year round. A state-of-the-art library serves not only as an information center, but as place where children and adults can expand their knowledge by attending programs, lectures, and events. Next to the Library is the Grundy Museum, a Victorian-era house museum that offers free guided tours and exhibits the elegant belongings of the former occupants."

"Part of the town has been designated a National Historic Landmark. This area includes many historic homes dating back to the Civil War when Bristol served as a stop for the Underground Railroad.


Quoted text from: Historic Bristol Borough, Bucks County, Pennsylvania. "History and Culture." Accessed February 7, 2013.

This collection consists of various photographs, mostly originals with some copies, relating to Bristol (Bucks County, Pennsylvania) and surrounding areas. Most of the photographs are organized into binders by topic. Topics include: Aerial Views, Churches, Industry, Organizations and Groups, Personalities, Properties, Recreation, Schools, and Transportation.

Photographs collected at various times by the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library.

Summary descriptive information on this collection was compiled in 2012-2014 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 Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library directly for more information.

Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library
Finding Aid Author
Finding aid prepared by Celia Caust-Ellenbogen and Faith Charlton 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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