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City Council

[Record group 120]
Alternative/Former Names
City Councils
Common Council
Select Council

Agency home page.
Agency Function
The 1951 Home Rule Charter established Council as the legislative arm of Philadelphia municipal government, consisting of seventeen members.

Agency History
Although William Penn's Charter to the City of 1691 established a Common Council, that charter's provisions seem never to have been observed. The Proprietor's Charter of 1701 did so effectually, however, creating a Common Council that consisted of officers of the Corporation only: the Mayor, Recorder, at least three of the eight aldermen then appointed and nine of the twelve Common Council men. These officers chose their own successors from among themselves or from the citizens whose admission as freemen they controlled. This Council was abolished, along with the Corporation, in 1776. The Act of March 11, 1789, which reincorporated the City established a freeman-elected Council, consisting of fifteen aldermen and thirty Common Council members who chose the Mayor and the Recorder who, in turn, sat with them to form the Council. A twelve-man Select Council, also chosen by the freeholders, was created by an Act of April 4, 1796 which also reduced Common Council to a membership of twenty and removed the Mayor and Recorder from it. The City-County Consolidation Act of 1854 increased Select Councils' power of appointment of City officers (including the Mayor until 1839) and executive authority over City offices was great, but the Bullitt Bill (Act of June 1, 1885) placed the City's executive powers fully in the hands of the Mayor under essentially the same sort of departmental organization that exists today. The revision of the City Charter of 1919 created a unicameral City Council of twenty-one members which first met in January, 1920. The Home Rule Charter adopted in 1951 established Council's present organization consisting of ten members chosen from as many councilmanic districts and seven chosen by the voters of the City at large.

Archival Records
120.1 Common Council, Minutes in manuscript (1704-1776)

120.2 Common Council, Minutes in manuscript (1789-1855; missing: October 1823-October 1847, June 1850-September 1853)

120.3 Select Council, Minutes in Manuscript (1796-1869; missing November 1807-March 1811, April 1814 - May 1821, June 1832 - December 1863)

120.4 Journals of Councils (1835-1854)

120.5 Journal of Select Council (1854-1920)

120.6 Journal of Common Council (1854-1920)

120.7 Journal of City Council (1920-date, volumes added as published)

120.7a Committee on Accounts, Minutes (September - October 1834)

120.8 Committee on Airport Inquiry. Proceedings and Reports (August - December 1952)

120.9 Committee on Appropriations, Report on Salary Evaluations of Executive and Legislative Positions (November 1960)

120.10 Committee on City Property. Minutes (1836-1838)

120.11 Committee on City Property. Agreements (1836-1855)

120.12 Committee on City Property. Tobacco Warehouse Journal (1845-1856)

120.13 Committee on City Property, Inventory of Property of City, Including that of Consolidated Districts, Boroughs and Townships. (1854-1855)

120.14 Committee on Cleansing the City, Minutes (1834-1835)

120.15 Committee on Cleansing the City, Appropriation Expenditure Accounts (1841-1844, 1852-1854)

120.16 Committee on Cleansing the City. Weekly Disbursals (September - December 1834)

120.17 Committee on Cleansing the City. Order Stubs (1834-1835)

120.18 Committee on Finance. Minutes (1834-1854)

120.19 Committee on Finance. City Treasurer Reports (1851-1854)

120.20 Committees on Finance and Appropriation, Report on Financial Stewardship (1954)

120.21 Special Committee on City Finances (Committee of Fifteen) Reports. (1948)

120.22 Gas Commission. Report to Mayor and Councils (May 1921)

120.23 Committee on Building Girard College, Proceedings on Laying the Cornerstone. (1833)

120.24 Committee on Highways. Appropriation Accounts Ledger (1855-1856)

120.26 Committee on Lighting. Ordinance Schedule Book. (1948-1951)

120.27 Committee on Paving. Minutes (1834-1835)

120.28 Committee on Public Safety. Minutes (1924-1935)

120.29 Committee on Public Safety, Schedule Book of Ordinances, Resolutions, Communications. (1932-1951, missing 1940-1947)

120.30 Committee on Public Works. Ordinance Schedule Book (1948-1951)

120.31 Sub-Committee on Reclassification of City Personnel. Report on Classification Plan Drawn by Pennsylvania Economy League (1943)

120.32 Committee on Sinking Fund. Minutes (1824-1834)

120.33 Joint Special Committees. Minutes (1834-1835, 1860-1861)

120.34 Committee to Investigate Alleged Frauds in Management of Alms House. Minutes (1859)

120.35 Committee to Investigate Charges of Embezzlement against the Honorable William B. Smith, Mayor. Testimony and Report (1886)

120.36 Committee to Investigate Certain Charges Made in the Daily Newspapers of Philadelphia. Files (1920)

120.37 Committee of the Whole. Impeachment of W. Frank Marshall, Receiver of Taxes. Papers (1949-1950)

120.38 Committee on Streets and Services. Transcript of Public Hearings on Water Department (1954)

120.39 Committee on Streets and Services. Report on Investigation of Water Department (1956)

120.40 Committee on Surveyors and Regulators. Minutes (1854-1855)

120.41 Committee on Lighting and Watch. Minutes (1834-1835)

120.41 Committee on Water. Reports (1805-1892)

120.42 Committee on Water. Papers (1804-1854)

120.43 Committee on Water. Bills Received. (1804-1854)

120.44 Committee on Water. Register of Water Loan Subscribers (1806)

120.45 Committee on Public Safety. Report of Inquiry Concerning Fretz Building Fire (1963)

120.46 Zoning and Planning Code (1957)

120.47 Committee on Municipal Development and Zoning. Report on Zoning Legislation under the Home Rule Charter, 1952-1955. (1955)

120.48 Ordinances in Manuscript (1833-1951; missing 1834-1840, 1842-1848, 1858-1859)

120.49 Ordinances and Joint Resolutions (1854-date)

120.50 Schedule of Ordinances and Resolutions (1856-1863)

120.51 Digests of Ordinances and Acts of Assembly (1812, 1822, 1828, 1834, 1841, 1843, 1847, 1849, 1850, 1851, 1854. 1855, 1856, 1859, 1860, 1862, 1863, 1864, 1868, 1881, 1887, 1905, 1910)

120.52 Ordinances and Resolutions in re: Girard Estate Outside of Philadelphia County (1832-1834)

120.53 Ordinances and Resolutions in re: Removal of Grade Crossings (1905)

120.54 Codes (1941, 1952, ca. 1956, 1974)

120.55 Financial Program (1917-1952)

120.56 Reports to Council re: Establishment of Municipal Fire Department (1853-1854)

120.57 Preliminary Location Survey, Northeast Extension of Broad Street Subway (1948)

120.58 Commission on Commitments and Detention. Reports (1951, 1954)

120.59 Manuals of Council (1866-1951; missing 1870)

120.60 Expenditure Accounts (1940-1942, 1950-1951)

120.61 Military Furlough Payroll (1941-1943)

120.62 History of Legislation Introduced in Council, January -December 1952 (1952)

120.63 Citizens' Charter Committee. Petitions (1954)

120.64 Scrapbooks (1872-1877, 1912-1914, 1923-1932, 1942-1946, 1951-1953.)

120.65 Committee on City Property. Appropriation Expenditures Journal (1851-1854)

120.66 Committee on Legacies and Trusts. Accounts Journal (1840-1854)

120.67 Special Committee to Investigate Civil Defense Program. Transcripts of Hearings (1952)

120.68 Committee on Transportation and Public Utilities. Transcripts of Public Hearings (1939)

120.69 Reports Received by City Council (1958-1959, 1964, ca. 1967)

120.70 Committee of the Whole, Stenographic Transcripts of Hearings (1957, 1964, 1967, 1969)

120.71 Committee on Public Safety. Transcripts of Public Hearing on Bill 898 (19 February 1957)

120.73 Joint Special Committee on Exhibition of Liberty Bell at Panama-Pacific International Exposition. Photograph Album (1915)

120.74 Report of the Committee of the Select and Common Councils on the Navigation of the River Schuylkill (1832)

120.75 Special Committee to Study the Practices, Payments, Expenditures, Budgets and Operations of the Philadelphia Gas Works. Reports. (1961)

120.76 Report of the Survey of a Section of the River Delaware (4 July 1820)

120.77 Rules of City Council and New City Charter (1920)

120.78 Councilmanic Transit Commission on Comprehensive Plan for Development and Construction of City's High-Speed Transit Lines. Report. (24 July 1923)

120.79 Annual Reports (1980-1981)

120.80 Description of Plan for the Improvement of Fairmount Park (1859)

120.81 Committee on Recreation. Report of Investigation on Recreational Facilities (1953)

120.82 Report to City Council Concerning Philadelphia Gas Works (1958)

120.83 Special Committee to Consider a New Lease for the Philadelphia Gas Works. Transcripts of Meetings (1937)

120.84 Special Committee to Consider a New Lease for PGW. Report (1937)

120.85 Report on the Philadelphia Gas Works (1960)

120.86 Guides to City Council (1956, 1960, 1972)

Current Records

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Last updated on November 8, 2000