© 2017 Philadelphia Historical Commission | 1515 Arch Street, 13th Floor | 215-686-7660 | preservation@phila.gov

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Credit: Library of Congress

Researchers

Glossary Of Terms
Online Resources

Greater Philadelphia GeoHistory Network

The GPGN is a collection of geographic resources from more than a dozen local repositories.  Historic maps and atlases are available for viewing alone or in comparison to current maps in an interactive maps viewer.

Philadelphia Architects and Buildings

PAB is an image rich portal to historical and architectural information for over 250,000 structures as well as biographies and references to more than 20,000 architects, builders, contractors and firms.

Historic Map Works

A residential genealogy site that features many maps of Philadelphia not digitized elsewhere. 

Hexamer Insurance Maps and Surveys

The Free Library of Philadelphia offers detailed fire insurance maps from a variety of dates and sections of the city.  

Sanborn Maps, 1916-1922

Penn State University Libraries Digital Collections feature a set of detailed insurance maps for Philadelphia between 1916-1922. 

Historic Watershed Maps

A series of historic and modern stream maps created by the Philadelphia Water Department. 

West Philadelphia Maps and Atlases

The West Philadelphia Community History Center features a number of maps of West Philadelphia dating from 1753 through 1927. Their site also features an in-depth history of West Philadelphia and its major periods of development. 

Photographs

The City's PhillyHistory photo archive contains over 2 million photo records that date from the late 1800's.

Hagley Digital Archives

Provides online access to selected items from Hagley Library's collection of images, documents, and publications​ related to the history of business, technology, and society.

City Directories

Digitized McElroy's Philadelphia Directories from the 1840s through 1860s. 

Philadelphia Contributorship Archives

The archives of the Philadelphia Contributorship span the period from 1752 to present. They consist of Minutes of the Board of Directors, Committee Minutes, Treasurer's Reports, ledgers, surveyors' books, and other underwriting registers.  Early and highly detailed insurance surveys are available for many properties. 

Index of Historic Registry Plans and Grantee/Grantor lists

Using a property's Map Registry Number (available under Deeds section of a property search in atlas.phila.gov), find a property's early/original owner by browsing the City of Philadelphia's PhilaDox Historical Index. 

Articles on Philadelphia History

Articles on various topics, including historic sites, neighborhoods, urban planning and events and people in Philadelphia history. 

Temple Special Collections Research Center

The SCRC is the principal repository for and steward of the Libraries’ rare books, manuscripts, archives and University records. Temple’s Digital Collections site offers free worldwide access to the unique primary historical and cultural resources held by the Temple University Libraries and to selected scholarly works and other publications produced at Temple.

University of Pennsylvania Historic Preservation Theses

This collection contains these from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. 

Pennsylvania's Cultural Resources Geographic Information System

PHMC's CRGIS is a map-based inventory of the historic and archaeological sites and surveys stored in the files of the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (PA SHPO). The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission (PHMC) has been collecting information concerning archaeological sites and historic resources for the greater part of a century.

National Archives

The National Archives website features a number of databases, online guides and publications that can help in researching ancestry, military, federal, foreign policy, maritime, aviation, science and technology, and other records. 

Philadelphia Register Map

Click here to expand map

 

DISCLAIMER: Please note that the Philadelphia Register is updated regularly, and mapping errors are periodically discovered, therefore the online Register can never be entirely accurate. It is provided online as a courtesy, but is not the official Register. For the latest information on the Register, please call the Historical Commission at 215-686-7660

National Register of Historic Places In Pennsylvania

The National Register of Historic Places was established by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, and is maintained by the National Park Service (NPS). In Pennsylvania, the Pennsylvania State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) manages the National Register program.

Research Facilities

Athenaeum of Philadelphia

219 S 6th Street  |  215-925-2688

The Athenaeum is a special collections library and museum founded in 1814 to collect materials "connected with the history and antiquities of America, and the useful arts, and generally to disseminate useful knowledge" for public benefit. The Athenaeum's collections include architecture and interior design history, particularly for the period 1800 to 1945.

Historical Society of Pennsylvania

1300 Locust Street  |  215-732-6200
The Society is an excellent source of materials on Philadelphia history, including census records, old newspaper articles, family histories, maps and atlases. The Society also has a large collection of watercolors and early photographs of various buildings and landscapes throughout the Philadelphia area.  

 

The Library Company of Philadelphia

1314 Locust Street  |  215-546-3181
A rare book and research library with collections documenting the history and background of American culture from the Colonial period to the Civil War.

 

The Free Library of Philadelphia

1901 Vine Street  |  215-686-5322
The Free Library of Philadelphia maintains an extensive collection of materials that can be used to research the history of buildings in Philadelphia, including many un-digitized maps. An excellent guide to their collections, as well as other resources available in Philadelphia can be found here.
 

University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Archives

220 S 34th Street  |  215-898-8323
The Architectural Archives of the University of Pennsylvania preserves the works of more than 400 designers from the 17th century to the present.

Philadelphia Department of Parks & Recreation Archive

1515 Arch Street, 10th Fl.  |  215-683-3600

The Archive provides researchers with a record of the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation system. It documents the history of park and recreation property. It also documents  the people who have helped shape Parks & Rec and its land. While the Archive focuses on a variety of aspects of history, its strength truly lies in the documentation of the Parks & Rec’s architectural history. This rich history can be discovered through maps, photographic images, and written materials. The Archive is accessible by appointment only. 

Local Historical Societies

Many of Philadelphia's neighborhoods have local historical societies with information, documents, and photographs geared towards their specific communities. Online resources and public hours vary. A few local historical societies include:

 

Chestnut Hill Conservancy

8708 Germantown Avenue  |  215-247-9329

 

East Falls Historical Society

3728 Midvale Avenue  |  215-848-8396 

 

Historical Society of Frankford

1507 Orthodox Street  |  215-743-6030

Germantown Historical Society

5501 Germantown Avenue  |  215-844-0514

 

University City Historical Society

801 S 48th Street  |  215-387-3019