Second only to New York as an important city in the history of US steel pens, Philadelphia resources come from a wide range of sources.
One of the more interesting sources is the Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network. The purpose of the network is to provide the geographical material used in the study of Philadelphia’s history.
These resources include city directories, maps, site surveys, property atlases, etc…
There’s a Resource Browser which has links to various resources from many sources. These include:
- Aerial Photographs
- City Directories
- General Atlas and Directory Maps
- Historical Divisions and Boundaries
- Hydrography / Water / Sewer
- Industrial Site Surveys
- Land Use / Zoning / Development
- Neighborhood and Redlining
- Property Maps / Atlases
- Property Plans
- State Maps
- Street Maps
- Street Surveys / Plans
- Topographical Maps
- Transportation / Railroad Maps
One of the cool tools is the Interactive Maps Viewer which allows you to find a street on a modern map and then overlay historic maps from a list.
As for City Directories, here are the ones I’ve found, including the ones in the Resource Browser mentioned above.
There are several sources for city directories, or city-directory-like books.
“City Directory” or “City Directory and Stranger’s Guide” means that it is a city directory found on archive.org
“Athenaeum” means that it’s a city directory found on the Philadelphia Athenaeum site. These directories show each page individually and are not searchable. it’s a little hard to get around, and takes some figuring out, but sometimes these are the only options.
“Ancestry.com” means that the directory is available on the paid ancestry.com site, but you do need a paid membership to search. Some libraries have ancestry.com memberships that allow you to search, but not save. Check with your friendly, local, librarian.
There are some other, random sources like a city guide or a guide to merchants, or a street directory (which only lists streets and where they cross, etc..). These can be useful depending on what you’re looking for.
NB: the year on the directory may be 1835, for example, but because the information was gathered in 1834, I mark that directory 1834/35.
|1790/91||Philadelphia and her merchants from 70 years ago (1860)|
|1810/11||City Census Directory|
|1824/25||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1827/28||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1828/29||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1829/30||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1830/31||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1832/33||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide:|
|1835/36||City Directory and Stranger’s Guide|
|1857/58||1857: Philadelphia and her manufacturers|
|1860/61||Athenaeum, Search Athenaeum|
|1861/62||City Directory , Ancestry.com|
|1862/63||City Directory , Ancestry.com|
|1863/64||City Directory , Ancestry.com|
|1864/65||City Directory , Ancestry.com|
|1867/68||1867: Philadelphia and her manufacturers
|1894/95||Boyd’s Co-partnership Directory
Camden is just across the river from Philadelphia, and is also quite important in the history of the steel pen as the site of the manufacturing facilities for both Esterbrook, and then later, Hunt Pens.
I have found a set of Camden Directories in Ancestry.com, if you have a subscription, starting with 1863. If I find any outside of Ancestry, I’ll post them.
One very interesting site for information on early Camden is a set of Sanborn Maps hosted by Princeton University. These were used by insurance companies and showed detailed building descriptions and plots for important buildings. Here’s a very interesting view of the Esterbrook factory on Cooper St. in 1885.
The most complete years for these maps is for 1885, 1891 and 1906.
For those who are interested in the old city directories, I found an interesting resource. It’s a book from 1919 on “The development and growth of city directories.”
Or there is a directory of directories from 1916.
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