Workshop of the World

stories of industry in & around Philadelphia

Archives & Artifacts, SIA tour June 7, 2007.
Tour leader: Jeffrey Ray, Senior Curator,
Atwater Kent Museum

Philadelphia is home to a number of important libraries and research Institutions. While the city may have destroyed a great deal of its 19th century industrial heritage, its collecting institutions preserve important records, photographs and architectural plans relating to our industrial past. Our tour will takes us to four of these important repositories. The bus will leave the hotel at 11:00 AM and will take us first to the
Benjamin Franklin Institute. There John Alviti, the Institute's Curator will greets us. Among the Institute's collections that we will sample are Graff's Fairmount Water Works drawings, William Sellers Company and Midvale Steel prints and photographs of heavy industry production. A special treat will be examples from the Wright Brothers aeronautical engineering drawings.

We will leave the Franklin Institute at 12:30 and will go to the
Reading Terminal Market where tour members may have lunch on their own in one of Philadelphia's most important industrial sites. The Reading Terminal Market opened as part of the Reading Terminal in 1893 and has survived in ownership of the building and mission for over 100 years. The market today is the home of vendors and food stalls that offer a wide variety for us to choose from.

We will board the bus at 1:45 and travel to the
Historical Society of Pennsylvania at 1300 Locust Street. At the Society we will meet Lee Arnold, the Society's Librarian. Lee and his staff will draw on the Society's remarkable collections relating to the city's industrial past. Among the collections we will sample are: Baldwin Locomotive Works, J.G. Briill Company, Frederick V. Hetzel (machine belts) and Horstman-Lippincott a major textile manufacturer. Also included will be papers from Thomas Hopkins, an 18th century salt works.

Founded in 1824 in Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania is one of the oldest historical societies in the United States and holds many national treisures. The Society's building, listed on the City of Philadelphia's Register of Historical PIaces, houses some 600,000 printed items and over 19 million manuscript and graphic items. The Society is one of the largest family history libraries in the nation, has preeminent printed collections on Pennsylvania and regional history, and offers superb manuscript collections renowned for their strength in 17th-, 18th- and 19th-century history.

With the addition of the holdings of the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies in 2002, the Society has become a chief center for the documentation and study of the ethnic communities and immigrant experiences shared by people whose American history began more recently -- between the late nineteenth century and our own times. Together these holdings, old and new, make the Society one of the nation's most important special collections libraries -- a center of historical documentation and study, education and engagement.

We will leave the Historical Society at 3:00 and travel to the
Athenaeum of Philadelphia on Washington Square. There we will be greeted by Bruce Laverty, Gladys Brooks Curator of Architecture. The Athenaeum has focused on the architectural history of the region in the last 25 years and is home to two important on-line resources; the Philadelphia Architects and Buildings Project and the Philadelphia Geo History Network. Among the collections that Mr. Laverty and his staff will present are Matthais Baldwin's hand drawn plan for his first locomotive factory (with his notes in the margins) and the Ballinger and Perrot Collection. Ballinger and Perot was one of Philadelphia's major architectural and engineering firms; one of its major projects was the Atwater Kent factory on Wissahickon Avenue.

We will leave the Athenaeum at 4:15 and walk to the
American Philosophical Society, two blocks away where we will meet Roy Goodman, the Society's librarian. At the APS, Roy will take us into the stacks of Franklin Hall. An eminent scholarly organization of international reputation, the American Philosophical Society promotes useful knowledge in the sciences and humanities through excellence in scholarly research, professional meetings, publications, library resources, and community outreach. This country's first learned society, the APS has played an important role in American cultural and intellectual life for over 250 years.

"The first drudgery of settling new colonies is now pretty well over," wrote Benjamin Franklin in 1743, "and there are many in every province in circumstances that set them at ease, and afford leisure, to Cultivate the finer arts, and improve the common stock of knowledge."

The scholarly society he advocated became a reality that year. By 1769 international acclaim for its accomplishments assured its permanence. Franklin's influence and the needs of American settlements led the Society in its early days to pursue equally "all philosophical Experiments that let Light into the Nature of Things, tend to increase the Power of Man over Matter, and multiply the Conveniencies or Pleasures of Life."

Early members included doctors, lawyers, clergymen, and merchants interested in science, and also many lcarnecl artisans and tradesmen like Franklin. Many founders of the republic were members: George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Rush, James Madison, and John Marshall; as were many distinguished foreigners: Lafayette, von Steuben, Kosciusko.