COLLECTIONS OF THE PHILADELPHIA CITY ARCHIVES
The City Archives possesses many different types of records in its collections. Some of the different records found at the Philadelphia City Archives include:
Administrative and correspondence files of the various mayors of Philadelphia from 1949 to 1990, including reports from various department heads and related agencies; and records of the Managing Director, who is responsible for the supervision of all operating departments.
Almshouse/Philadelphia General Hospital
Minutes of the Guardians of the Poor, Alms House Managers, and committees of each; admission, discharge, census, and housekeeping records of the Blockley Almshouse, later reconstituted as the Philadelphia General Hospital
Correspondence, reports, minutes, and other records of various successful and unsuccessful efforts to reform Philadelphia's charter, including the Philadelphia Charter Commission of 1949-1951, the Educational Home Rule Charter Commission of 1965, and the Philadelphia Independent Charter Commission of 1992-1994.
Minutes, correspondence, plans, and photographs relating to the construction of Philadelphia City Hall. Includes records of the Commissioners for the Erection of the Public Buildings (1870-1901), guidebooks, plans of alterations, and scrapbooks.
Minutes, correspondence, plans, photographs, and other materials relating to the Centennial Exhibition of 1876, Sesquicentennial Exposition of 1926, Bicentennial efforts of 1976, and the We The People Constitutional Celebration of 1987. The files of the City Representative contains materials relating to other civic celebrations.
Dockets, papers, and miscellaneous records of the Common Pleas Court, (Philadelphia County) District Court, Philadelphia Muncipal Court and Court of Quarter Sessions dating back to 1760. Other minor courts whose records reside at the Archives include the Mayor's Court, Alderman's Court, General Sessions Court, Criminal Sessions Court, and Recorder's Court.
Districts, Townships and Boroughs
Local government records of various districts, boroughs and townships comprising the County of Philadelphia prior to the 1854 consolidation of the City and County. For more information about the Philadelphia County subdivisions, click here.
Minutes of the Fairmount Park Commission, Executive Committee, and subcommittees dating back to the commission's founding in 1867; deeds and chains-of-title to park property; and maps of one of the largest urban parks in the world.
Registers, annual audits of individual departments, appropriation ledgers, and other financial data compiled by the City Controller from 1855 to the present; budgets of the Mayor since 1919; financial programs of City Council, 1917-1952; and financial reports issued by the Director of Finance since 1952.
Birth and death records maintained by the Board of Health from 1860 to 1915, marriage records from 1860 to 1885; naturalization records filed in the various courts from 1793 to 1930; and voter street lists for 1928-1929, 1935, and 1948-1980. Microfilms of other records of genealogical interest include marriage applications held by the Marriage License Bureau from 1885 to 1915 and city directories from 1795 to 1935.
Board of Health minutes, papers, and reports; vital records; records relating to municipal hospitals and health care centers; mental health/mental retardation correspondence and registers; Air Pollution Control Board minutes, correspondence, and files; scrapbooks from 1891 to 1900.
Correspondence, files, hearing transcripts relating to housing and employment matters, and reports on various ethnic groups within Philadelphia found in the records of the Commission of Human Relations.
Photographs of public works projects, school construction, and other governmental functions from 1888 to the present.
Planning, Housing, and Redevelopment
Reports, correspondence, plans, minutes, and scrapbooks of the Philadelphia City Planning Commission from 1929 to the present; reports of the Committee on Comprehensive Plans, 1912-1918, the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Philadelphia, and the Philadelphia Housing Authority; and records of the Mayor's Office of Housing and Community Development.
Real Estate Records, Public Filings
Deeds (1683-1951) and mortgages (1683-1963) filed with the Recorder of Deeds' Office; Sheriff's deeds from 1760 to 1905 filed in the various courts in Philadelphia. Other recorded instruments include charters, miscellaneous instruments, notary public registers, and partnership dockets. For more information about deeds and other land records, click here
Road Records, Surveys, and Maps
Dockets, petitions and maps relating to the opening of roads with the city and county of Philadelphia (1685-1953), including those roads opened in present-day Berks County before 1753 and Montgomery County before 1784. Surveys from the Board of Surveyors include returns for downtown Philadelphia (ca. 1785-1915); registers and maps of the various parts of the City.
The foregoing is not a comprehensive listing of all of the Archives' collections. The span dates provided do not necessarily reflect the dates of a particular series within a collection. Certain restrictions and special conditions may apply to specific collections.
Browse Philadelphia government agencies by name Use this to view the list of governmental departments, bureaus and agencies, both past and present. A complete list of the City Archives' holdings of the records of each agency may be found under the listing for that agency.
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Last updated on 15 May 1998.