Holmesburg Scrapbook Collection
Collected by Katharine M. Petty
Librarian 1911-1948
Project Funded by the
Trustees of the Lower Dublin Academy –
Maxwell Rowland, Chairman of the Board.
Restoration work and organization of materials by
Bruce Silcox Photography, Minneapolis, Minnesota

These newspaper clipping scrapbooks were recently scanned and, thanks to the above creators of the digital version and to Fred Moore and Bruce Conner of the Northeast Philadelphia History Network (a consortium of local historical societies, historians, and history-lovers focusing on that large area of the city), I am able to post them here.

Please note that some of the files are large and may take time to download.
ALSO NOTE: Since two cover pages were added at the front of each book, the index page numbers are off by two. The index refers to the PDF reader's pager number, not the number written on each scrapbook page.

Introduction and Contents (180 kb)
Book 1 (6.3 mb)
Book 2 (22.7 mb)
Book 3 (31.2 mb)
Book 4 (41 mb)
Book 5 (18.6 mb)

The late Harry C. Silcox, the preeminent historian of Northeast Philadelphia who frequently cited the scrapbooks in his research and publications, wrote the following introduction to the collection:

"Scrapbook collections offer historians a number of perspectives to the past. First, they focus on the collector. What were her interests? Why was the collection kept for so many years? What was its use? Clearly, the Holmesburg collection is a window into a community history and a view of what was important to the people of Holmesburg at the time.

"In the case of librarian Katharine M. Petty, she wanted to collect newspaper clippings about Holmesburg that could be useful to the library. Petty's focus on the history of the area is marked by the inclusion of over 100 stories entitled "Just Twenty Years Ago" taken from the Frankford Dispatch. (Original papers at the Frankford Historical Society).

"Clearly, much of the scrapbook comes from the Dispatch and other local papers. Newspaper clippings in the collection covered the entire Northeast with special attention paid to Tacony, Torresdale, Holmesburg, Bustleton, Wissinoming and Bucks County. Local institutions were also part of the collection. Reports on schools, Poor House, Holmesburg Prison, Shallcross School for truants in Torresdale and Camp Happy summer camp for the city were also continuous stories.

"Social activities in the community were also mentioned. Plays done by the Forrest Home for Actors, Church activities in Holmesburg, horse shows, races on the Delaware River and Fish and Game events were all covered for local consumption. The scrapbooks were kept in the library for use by those seeking information about local events and history. Petty loved the task of collecting clippings, which she continued for just short of 40 years. She left them when she retired in 1948.

"The ... Guide to the Collection gives some idea as to where these materials can be found. After finding a story you would like to read, use the guide to research the five scrapbooks of the collection by year and then page number. Open the correct book and page to access what interest you. Enjoy Holmesburg History!!!"

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Page last modified July 22, 2010

The History of Philadelphia's Watersheds and Sewers

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Historical Consultant
Philadelphia Water Department
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