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Upper Darby Historical Society local history collection


Held at: Upper Darby Historical Society [Contact Us]P.O. Box 731, Drexel Hill, PA, 19026

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

"Upper Darby [Delaware County, Pennsylvania], one of the earliest settlements west of Philadelphia, began with the Lenni Lenape Indians and early Swedish settlers of the 1650s. [It was incorporated from Darby Township in 1736.] Mills and farming were fueled by several creeks forming a fall line before dropping off to the Piedmont through Upper Darby. From the beginning, influential families left their mark. The descendants of Samuel Sellers were inventors whose skills benefited the nation. Dr. George Smith authored the bill for Pennsylvania public education, and famous financiers A. J. Drexel and his son A. J. Drexel Jr. created beautiful estates with landscaped vistas where residents enjoyed leisure activities. By the early 1900s, most farms had turned to dairying and became part of "the Butter Belt." The Sixty-Ninth Street Terminal, built in 1907, was the transportation hub for those going farther west and brought rapid development to the community."


Quoted text from: Rorer, Beverly and Barbara Marinelli. Upper Darby back cover. Charleston, S.C.: Arcadia Publishing, 2011.

This collection consists largely of secondary-source materials, such as newspaper clippings, photocopies or photographs of original documents, narrative histories, research notes, and printed or published works. There are also some primary-source documents, including maps, scrapbooks, deeds, photographs, slides, ephemera, correspondence, autograph books, and more. The basis for this collection are series of research files compiled by two individuals: Thomas R. Smith, who was the former librarian/archivist at the Upper Darby Public Library, and Thomas J. DiFilippo, a local historian in Upper Darby.

At the core of the collection is a vertical file, "Sellers Library General Files." It is organized into two series: subject files and family files (both in alphabetical order). Subjects for which there is a greater quantity of material are stored separately in boxes. These include: Sellers family, Lukens family, Pennock family, Garrett family, Smith/Lewis family; Darby, Lansdowne, Brookhaven, Folcroft, Marple, Springfield; Maps of Philadelphia, Delaware County, Chester County, Upper Darby and surrounding area; Anti-slavery/Underground Railroad, Delaware County Historical Society, Transportation, Upper Darby schools, Upper Darby fire and police, Delaware County Institute of Science, and Churches.

The collection also includes a series of newspaper clippings scrapbooks on Delaware County history compiled by Thomas R. Smith, circa 1990-1999, as well as Smith's research files with some professional papers.

In addition, there are some small sub-collections organized by creator: Upper Darby Free Public Library scrapbooks (1934-1947); Maeundorff School of Dancing (ca. 1929-1935); Margaret Mitchell slides of Upper Darby (1940s-1950s) and Llanerch Woman's Club scrapbooks (1988-1990); Freas B. Snyder correspondence, drafts, and published articles, 1950s; Government Study Commission records, circa 1973; Sellers glass plate negatives, 1902-1912; and Spaeter photographs.

Also included are about two dozen oral histories on CD, VHS, and audiocassette tapes--some transcribed and/or with notes-- circa 1989-2000.

Inventories exist for parts of the collection, available on-site.

Many materials were gathered by Tom Smith and Tom DiFilippo. Other items were added to the collection from various sources over time.

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 Upper Darby Historical Society directly for more information.

Upper Darby Historical Society
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.
Access Restrictions

Contact Upper Darby Historical Society for information about accessing this collection.

Collection Inventory

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