One problem with doing research in old government reports is that their indexes are usually minimal to non-existent. Finding the time to review the thousands of pages of documents in the hundreds of years of annual reports of even one department of one city (for example, let's take the Philadelphia Water Department) could consume years of research. Indexes are no replacement for delving into the texts themselves, but they certainly provide a quick look at what is inside those musty old covers.
So anyone interested in the history of
municipal utilities must thank PWD Archives Volunteer Christiane Metz,
a librarian who has compiled these indexes to the text and, in particular,
to graphs, charts, photograps and other illustrations in a number of
PWD annual reports. We chose this period to index because in these years
PWD designed and built the water filtration system that helped greatly
improve water quality while drastically reducing the indience of typhoid
fever and other waterborne diseases. Links are to PDF documents, which
should download and open quickly.
The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers
Compiled by Adam Levine
Philadelphia Water Department