20th-Century Collections Guide: Photography and Graphic Materials

Home 20th-Century Collections Guide: Photography and Graphic Materials

20th-Century Collections Guide: Photography and Graphic Materials


HSP has a significant number of graphic material collections. The photographic collections offer a visual history of 20th-century Philadelphia and the surrounding region, capturing people, places, and events, and offer a glimpse into the development of photography throughout the century. Materials contained in the graphic collections include photographs, posters, prints, slides, and drawings.

Please note that this is not a comprehensive guide to HSP's 20th-century graphic materials. It is meant to serve as a starting point to help users locate collections that may be of interest to them.

See the 20th-Century Collections Guide main page.

HSP staff is regularly adding finding aids to the website. Users should click on a collection's title to see whether a full online finding aid is available.


Posters, Prints, and Drawings


Albertype Company
Albertype Company photographs, 1910-1950 (Collection V18A) 7 boxes (2.4 linear ft.)
The Albertype Company was founded by Adolph and Herman L. Wittemann in 1890 as a postcard and viewbook publishing company.  The Brooklyn-based company used the recent technological innovation of the collotype, or albertype, to photomechanically reproduce images.  Amassing photographic negatives of towns and cities across the United States, the Albertype Company produced over twenty-five thousand collotypes before its closure in 1952. The collection includes 353 cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate negatives, 3 glass plate negatives, and 10 positives.  These images document buildings, natural attractions, and streets in Pennsylvanian towns.  Additionally, there are over eighty views of the 1926 Sesquicentennial exhibition in Philadelphia.  The following cities and towns are represented: Blakeslee, Bryn Mawr, Clarion, Eaglesmere, Hoban Heights, Indiana, Lackawaxen, Lewisburg, Lord's Valley, Loretto, Mansfield, McConnellsburg, McKeesport, Mercersburg, Punxsutawney, Philipsburg, Reading, Renovo, Ridgeway, Sayre, Shillington, and State College. There are also many views of the Sesqui-Centennial grounds and buildings. Of note are a number of views of the Archdiocese exhibit.

Albertype Company
Albertype Company photographs, 1910-1952 (Collection V18) 43 boxes (14.4 linear ft.)
The Albertype Company was founded by Adolph and Herman L. Wittemann in 1890 as a postcard and viewbook publishing company.  The Brooklyn-based company used the recent technological innovation of the collotype, or albertype, to photomechanically reproduce images.  Amassing photographic negatives of towns and cities across the United States, the Albertype Company produced over twenty-five thousand collotypes before its closure in 1952. 
The collection includes 4223 cellulose acetate and cellulose nitrate negatives, 212 prints, and 66 postcards.  These images document buildings, natural attractions, streets, and recreational activities in Pennsylvanian towns. 

Barker, Albert W. (Albert Winslow), 1874-1947
Albert Winslow Barker glass plate negatives, circa 1909 (Collection 3171) 3 boxes (3 linear ft.)
142 glass plate negatives by Albert Winslow Barker, primarily of farm scenes in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

Bell, D. Sargent
D. Sargent Bell photograph collection, 1900-1942 (Collection V01) 10 boxes (19 linear ft.)
Dickenson Sargent Bell worked as a professional photographer in Philadelphia from the late 1890s through the early 1940s. He was the son of William S. Bell, a pioneer photographer active in Philadelphia from 1848-1905. D. Sargent Bell is first listed as a photographer in the 1896 city directory. By 1916, he opened a studio with Joseph Fisher at 1324 Walnut Street. Bell and Fischer operated at this address through 1920. Bell worked without a partner at various addresses from 1921 to 1942. Primarily photographs taken by Bell and Bell and Fischer. Subjects include the Bell Telephone Co., the Philadelphia Gas Works, Philadelphia department stores, business enterprises, exhibitions, furniture, eating establishments, religion, education, health care, organizations, industry, interior, streets, buildings, sports, and theatrical productions. Also included are family photographs and informal portraits and reproductions of two-dimensional works. Photographers include Dickenson Sargent Bell, Joseph Fischer, Bell and Fischer, and Rembrandt Studio.Many negatives are copy negatives of postcards.

Day family
Day family collection of lantern slides and glass plate negatives, 1900-1920 (Collection V35) 2 boxes (2 linear ft.)
Various unknown prints of political cartoons regarding the mayoralty campaign between Rudolph Blankenburg and Earle.  The political cartoons are by F. T. Richards, Skyes, Weed and Humbert Johnson.  There are also several slides of war cores for Blankenburg.  The collection also includes various photos of scenes of Egypt and China by Mrs. F. M. Day and A. B. Day.  There are also scenes of New York and Boston playgrounds.  Included in the collection are scenes of Holmesburg, PA and several unidentified photos of building interiors.  Additionally there are photos of Grand Central Station in New York City and Union Station in Washington, D. C.  The glass photo negatives are of the American Academy in Rome.

Darby, Delphine Fitz
Delphine Fitz Darby collection of photograph albums of Pennsylvania views, 1890-1931 (Collection Bd 608 P53) 1 box 2 volumes (0.4 linear ft.)
Images of people and places in Philadelphia including Fairmount Park, Rittenhouse Square, the consecration of Bishop Rhinelander at the Church of the Advocate (1911), and street scenes including Broad Street and the area around 18th and Diamond Sts.  Other great images include the Inquirer Airship, Founders Week Parade (1908), area colleges, the area around 41st and Baltimore in West Philadelphia, Delaware Water Gap, and Harrisburg.  Most images are labeled and dated and the few people who appear are usually identified.  There are 135 photographs, including two cyanotypes, and 115 negatives of images represented in the albums.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania large miscellaneous lantern slide collection, 1900-1920 (Collection V09) (21 linear ft.)
This collection contains approximately 1900 slides and pertains mainly to the Philadelphia vicinity but covers a wide range of topics, from Academy of Fine Arts to graves and graveyards to schools and colleges and industry.  The slides are arranged alphabetically by topic.  A significant number of the slides are reproductions of prints, especially by Frank H. Taylor.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania photograph collection, circa 1850-1992 (Collection V59) 48 boxes (160 linear ft.)
The Society’s photograph collection is a rich visual resource on a variety of topics, with an emphasis on Philadelphia and the surrounding region.  Subjects particularly well documented in the collection include: local streets and residences, Fairmount Park, Friends’ Meeting houses, and historic buildings and sites.  Other subjects include bridges, churches, factories, fire engines and companies, hotels, monuments, schools, societies and clubs, the Centennial International Exposition, Lincoln’s funeral, and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania.  Everyday life is represented in images of sports and recreation, and people at work.  Reproductions of art objects, medals, clocks, and flags are also included.  In addition to documenting Philadelphia, the collection also includes views of other Pennsylvania cities and towns and a small group of foreign views. Prominent photographers in the collection include James Cremer, Harry W. Balleisen, James E. McClees, Frederick DeBourg Richards, and McAllister & Bros.  The collection spans from the mid 19th century to the late 20th century and contains examples of several different types of photographs, such as albumen prints, gelatin silver prints, and cyanotypes.  Also in the collection are examples of different photographic formats, like stereo views, cabinet cards, and cartes-de-visites. The collection is divided into two sections by size: small and medium. Within each section photographs are arranged alphabetically by subject.  Photographs within the Centennials and Parades folders are arranged chronologically by date of the event.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania portrait collection, circa 1700-1950 (Collection V88) 215 boxes (215 linear ft.)
This is an artificial collection created by HSP staff, containing graphics materials from many sources. The collection includes prints, photographs, and other portraits of a number of significant Americans and Philadelphians.

J. G. Brill Company
J.G. Brill Company records, 1877-1930 (Collection 1556) 648 boxes, 7 volumes (137 linear ft.)
The J.G. Brill Company and its various incarnations dominated the world of trolley and undercarriage manufacturing for most of its seventy-year history. Based in Philadelphia, Brill was founded in 1868 by a German immigrant and held in family hands well into the 1930s. At its height, The J.G. Brill Company owned plants in six states as well as in Canada and France. The collection consists of approximately 16,000 photographs, 6,000 glass-plate negatives, 10,000 acetate negatives, and thirteen order books, and documents the wide array of products manufactured by Brill. The photographs include interior and exterior views of railroad cars, trolleys, buses, ambulances, and trucks, as well as images of undercarriages, small parts, and seats. The collection also documents the factory grounds at 62nd and Woodland, particularly for World War I. Order books provide information on the quantity and types of items purchased, the companies purchasing them, and their dates of order and delivery.

Perkins, Helen C.
Helen C. Perkins collection of lantern slides, 1900-1912 (Collection V32) 3 boxes (1.8 linear ft.)
This collection of 112 lantern slides (both black and white and color) documents street scenes and alleys in Philadelphia, with a focus on Chestnut Street. The collection also depicts Philadelphia theaters, banks, government buildings, halls, mansions, the Liberty Bell, and historical sites at Independence National Historical Park and other landmarks. In addition, the collection contains reproductions of cave dwellings on the Delaware River, the White House, the U.S. Capitol, and Mount Vernon.

Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company
Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company photograph albums, 1905-1908 (Collection V42) 6 volumes (2.5 linear ft.)
Albums contain photographs of Market Street from the 300 block to the 1200 block, highlighting storefronts and excavation, showing workmen, pipes, and cables. Includes views of subway tunnels, subway stations, trains, and construction diagrams for subway stations and equipment. Also includes scenes of New York City and Brooklyn.

Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company
Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company photoprints, 1903-1910 (Collection V40) 2 boxes 17 volumes (10 linear ft.)
Street views in and around Philadelphia documenting the construction of the Philadelphia Rapid Transit Company's mass transit system. The construction of the Schuylkill River Bridge is highlighted, including views of its piers. Emphasis is placed on the Market Street line, especially of excavations. Retaining walls are shown with views of cracks and their destruction. Trench views are included. Substations are shown, especially at Willow Grove, Glenside, and the station at Market-Chestnut Street.

Philadelphia Record
Philadelphia Record photo morgue, circa 1900-1946 (Collection V07) 293 boxes (292 linear ft.)
This collection consists of the photographs taken for the Philadelphia Record, a newspaper which published from 1879 to 1947, when it was absorbed by the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.  Photographs are arranged by person or by subject.  Most of the collection consists of portraits of people prominent on the local and national level - from Connie Mack and John Wanamaker to Herbert Hoover and Charles Lindbergh. Subjects include explosions, auto accidents, schools, churches, farms, the war effort, women workers, sports, beauty pageants, army hospitals, military veterans, railroads, Eastern State Penitentiary, and Philadelphia stores. Many photos document the Depression and World War II and include captions.

Philadelphia War Photograph Committee
Philadelphia War Photograph Committee collection, 1915-1919 (Collection V03 ) 4 boxes (4.25 linear ft.)
Photographs and halftones collected by the Philadelphia War Photograph Committee to document World War I participation on the Philadelphia home front.  The collection is arranged in three groups:  civilian activities, servicemen and service activities, and war industries.  Civilian activities include charitable and service organizations, military and political parades, dignitaries, and activities at local institutions.  Servicemen are shown at military training facilities.  Also included are images of military vehicles, the U. S. Naval Air Station in Cape May, NJ, and aerial views of New Jersey beaches.  Industrial views document employees working in plants, particularly women in the work force.  Cramp's Shipyard, and Hog Island.  Photographers include Bell and Fischer, Frederick Gutekunst, George E. Nitzsche, J. W. Replogle, G. C. Horn and Company, Henry C. Howland, J. E. Green, and Harry Gruber.

Smith, Charles Morton, d. 1914
Charles Morton Smith collection of Philadelphia railroads photographs, 1898-1909 (Collection V43) 6 boxes 6 volumes (3 linear ft.)
Contains views of Philadelphia railroads including operations at Wayne Junction, street views of Delaware Avenue from Chestnut Street, the Arch Street Pier, the superstructure of the Chestnut Street Pier, the Master Street Yard as well as Master Street, the Columbia Avenue Station and Columbia Avenue, Sullivans Silk Mill and Montgomery Avenue as well as various street and station scenes.

Wallace, Philip B.
Phillip B. Wallace collection of glass and photographic negatives, 1930s-1940s (Collection V45) 71 boxes  (31 linear ft.)
This collection contains an extensive collection of glass and photo negatives of Philadelphia photographer Philip Wallace who worked between 1902 and the 1940s. Wallace's work focused on  copy work of art and artifacts; commercial work, including construction projects; architectural decorative details from the past; and a wide array of buildings, individuals, residences and scenes of the Philadelphia area.

Wallace, Philip B.
Phillip B. Wallace collection of photographs, 1902-1949, undated (Collection V50) 16 boxes 1 volumes (15.5 linear ft.)
Black & white prints and cyanotypes by Philadelphia photographer Philip B. Wallace include views of buildings and details of buildings, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia street scenes, trains, ships, paintings (especially portraits), etchings, rural scenes, historic sites from the 1926 Philadelphia Sesquicentennial, antiques, ironworks and other artifacts, and images of Philadelphia streets and house interiors. Also includes architectural line drawings and images of Boston street scenes.

Posters, Prints, and Drawings

Hulbert, Archer Butler, 1873-1933
The Crown Collection of Photographs of American Maps, edited by Archer Butler Hulbert, 1907- 1915 (Collection O 232) 14 volumes (2 linear ft.)
This collection contains fourteen volumes and three series of colonial maps of the East coast, Indian settlements, the central United States, and Eastern Canada. Only the first series has a list identifying the maps illustrated. The volumes were edited by Archer Butler Hulbert and published by the Arthur H Clark Company, Cleveland.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania print collection, circa 1800-circa 1950 (Collection V89) 75 boxes (28.2 linear ft.)
The Society Print collection provides a rich visual catalog of various local, regional, national, and international areas, locales, institutions, and scenes.  Despite the vast range of subjects under which the collection is arranged, the majority of the collection is centered on Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. The images date from the early 1800s to the mid twentieth century.  Items in the collection primarily include reproductions of prints, drawings, lithographs, etchings, woodcuts, and photographs, many of which have been clipped from newspapers, magazines, and calendars.  There are also postcards, greeting cards, and invitations.  Additionally, the collection includes scattered original artworks such as watercolors and drawings, as well as original photographs. This collection is divided into three categories according to size: small, medium, and large.  It is further arranged alphabetically within each size according to subject.  The small prints have been housed in boxes, while the medium and large prints are housed in oversized folders.  A detailed inventory of the small prints is available in HSP’s library.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania war posters collection, 1914-1945 (Collection V95)( 2.4 linear ft.)
The Historical Society includes among its holdings a collection of over 500 original World War I and World War II posters. The World War I series includes a number of Liberty Loan, American National Red Cross, and the U.S. Food Administration posters, while the World War II group includes American home front posters, many published by the Office of War Information. Other organizations represented in the collection include the War Production Board, the U.S. Shipping Board, Emergency Fleet Corporation, U.S. Coast Guard, U.S. Coast Guard Women's Reserve ("Spars"), the Y.W.C.A., the Women’s Land Army, as well as branches of the U.S. military. War bonds, rationing, enlistment, vigilance, and conservation of resources are all topics treated by these artworks. The collection includes posters by such famous artists as Albert Dorne, James Montgomery Flagg, E. McKnight Kauffer, David Stone Martin, Norman Rockwell, Ben Shan, and Frederick Siebel. The collection is arranged into three series: Series 1 (World War I), Series 2 (World War II), and Series 3 (Commemorative).  Materials are further arranged by size, except for Series 3 which contains only  medium-sized items, and country of origin. Within each subseries materials are arranged alphabetically by topic or issuing organization.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania World War II propaganda collection, 1939-1946 (Collection 3335) 2 boxes (0.6 linear ft.)
The collection mostly consists of World War II posters from a variety of governmental and nongovernmental agencies. These include recruiting posters from the U.S. Coast Guard, Coast Guard Women's Reserve ("Spars"), Marine Corps, Marine Corps Women's Reserve, Army, Navy, WAVES, Air Corps, and Seabees; war bond posters from the Victory Fund Committee and other agencies; U.S. Civil Service Commission recruitment posters targeting women and men; Office of War Information warnings against spreading rumors or giving information to the enemy; prints of Norman Rockwell paintings illustrating Franklin Roosevelt's "Four Freedoms"; and wartime posters from the Railroad Manpower Mobilization Committee, War Food Administration, Federal Housing Administration, Social Security Board, U.S. Employment Service, Internal Revenue Service, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Boy Scouts of America, Children's Bureau Commission on Children in Wartime, and private companies such as F. W. Woolworth. Also includes a few British war propaganda posters, posters warning against forest fires, and a series of Esso ads featuring "Famous gremlins you should know." Also include World War II-era Christmas cards, magazine ads for war bonds, booklets from the U.S. Army Ordnance Department, magazine pages explaining U.S. military insignia, Pennsylvania Civil Service Commission circulars, part of a 1943 calendar with illustrations by cartoonist Bill Eddy, and other materials.

Penrose, Boies, 1902-1976 and Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Historical Society of Pennsylvania Penrose Pictorial Philadelphia collection, 1852-1992 (Collection V60) 56 boxes (66 linear ft.)
The collection includes books, magazines, negatives, lantern slides, bills, letters, and book of purchases for the collection, Taylor prints A-M, Taylor prints N-W, Taylor prints streets A-Z. Photographs depict a wide variety of subjects with emphasis on Philadelphia residences, streets, historic buildings and sites, and parks. Views of Pennsylvania cities and towns, and a smaller group of foreign views, are included. Everyday life is represented in images of sports, recreation, and people at work. Other subjects include transportation, hotels, mills, ships, battlefields, theaters, and banks. Images of the Centennial International Exposition are also part of the collection. Photographers include Philip B. Wallace, Walter H. Snow, Joseph V. Labolito, and Frederick DeBourg Richards. The collection includes albumen prints, black & white prints, salt prints, and stereoviews.

Perkins, Helen C.
Helen C. Perkins scrapbooks, 1875-1912 (Collection V72 ) 37 boxes (12.4 linear ft.)
This collection is similar to the scrapbooks compiled by Perkins' contemporary Jane Campbell.  Included are newspaper clippings, black and white prints, and photographs of various sites throughout the city.  The collection is arranged by location, including Center City streets, creeks, and surrounding areas such as Germantown, Roxborough, Manayunk and the Main Line.  Other topics covered include colonial families, statuary and centennial buildings, public schools and scenes of New Jersey.  Some of the illustrations are accompanied by newspaper articles or notations made by Perkins.  The collection also includes a handwritten copy of "Souder's History of Chestnut Street--published in the Sunday Dispatch from April 1858 to October 1859."

Work Projects Administration
Work Projects Administration posters collection, 1934-circa 1941 (Collection V99) 7 boxes (2.3 linear ft.)
The Works Progress Administration (WPA) was created in 1935, as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, as a federal agency to provide work to unemployed people. It included a federal arts program, which consisted of the Federal Art, Music, Theatre, and Writers' Projects. In 1939, the WPA was reorganized as the Work Projects Administration and the arts programs were continued as state projects. The primary goals of the Federal Art Project (FAP) were to promote American art and artists; increase art education, especially for children; and research the history of American art and design.  FAP subsidiaries were eventually formed in each state; in Pennsylvania it was called the Pennsylvania Art Program (PAP).  It employed artists such as Charles Reed Gardner (1901-1974), Dox Thrash (1892-1965), and Michael J. Gallagher (1898-1965), who created numerous works for the war effort; public buildings, displays, and exhibitions; and for the general support of American art and graphic design. The collection consists of over 900 examples of artworks, many of which are originals, produced primarily by PAP artists during the early 1940s, including photographs, prints, costume plates, drawings, and watercolors.  The styles and subjects of the artworks are quite diverse and range from watercolors depicting laborers and landscapes, to woodblock prints inviting visitors to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Philadelphia Zoo, to costume plates showing the daily wear of Romanian peasants.