Liberty Bell Chapter Meeting
September 12, 2019
Join us at City of Philadelphia Archives for a tour to mark our first meeting of the 2019 - 2020 Chapter year!
The City Archives supports the City’s administration by actively identifying and preserving municipal records designated for permanent value. The City Archives as an institution dates back to 1704, with the recording of the first City Council meeting minutes. The City of Philadelphia voters adopted the Home Rule Charter establishing the City Archives on April 17, 1951. The specific duties of the City archives are to:
- Preserve all city records not in current use and of historical, administrative, legal research, cultural, or other important value;
- Receive such records from any department, board, commission, or other governmental agency of the City;
- Collect, classify, preserve, and make acceptable for reference all records which may come into its possession;
- Consult with city governmental departments to ensure current preservation and retention standards.
The wealth of material preserved in the City Archives includes original architectural plans from the 1870s for City Hall, which took 30 years to complete; 18th-Century City records with signatures of some of the nation’s founders (Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin); and Civil War-era scholar and civil-rights activist Octavius V. Catto’s death certificate. The earliest original documents are the William Penn City Charter (1701) and the Common Council Minutes of the first legislative meeting (the precursor to City Council) in 1704, while the newest notable item is the 2016 design drawings for the Octavius V. Catto memorial from the Philadelphia Art Commission.
The Archives also is a valuable repository for family-history researchers and professional genealogists (births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations, Guardians of the Poor, prison, court records and deeds); property researchers (deeds, title registration sheets, ward atlases and plot maps, building permits, and court records), academics and the general public.
This site-specific interactive mural exposes the racism and discrimination of our collective past, and celebrates the acts of resistance that countered it. Using documents from the City Archives collection to highlight this history, the artwork’s narrative focuses specifically on abolitionism and housing discrimination in Philadelphia.
The design of the mural takes its inspiration from historic maps found in the City Archives. These maps chart the development of Philadelphia’s streets and the conversion of the natural waterways to sewers. The most prominent network of lines alludes to the city’s street grid and establishes a framework for the display of other documents from the collection.
The interactive documents found in this room present stories of housing discrimination through the 1960s, with an introduction contextualizing this history in the present day. As you move into the reading room, the documents are presented chronologically from the present to the past, starting with stories of resistance to housing discrimination and ending with stories of resistance to slavery.
The City Archivist team are excited to welcome ARMA for an interesting and engaging evening of learning and exploration of some of the City's greatest treasures.
See below to view pictures from our the September 2019 meeting