The holdings of the Pictorial Collections Department range widely, from heavy industry to neighborhood corner stores and from nineteenth-century trade cards to television advertisements. Iron and steel manufacturing is well represented in large collections from Lukens Steel, Bethlehem Steel, and the American Iron and Steel Institute, along with the metals-based manufacturing of steam turbines (Westinghouse Electric), locomotives (Vulcan Iron Works), ships (Sun Ship), and steel bridges (Phoenix Bridge Company). Visual documentation of other core industries includes chemicals and synthetic fibers (DuPont), electrical goods (RCA), oil (Sun Company), coal (Westmoreland Coal), and nuclear power (DuPont). The large Pennsylvania Railroad collection documents the firm's stations, locomotives, and activities and complements the Reading Railroad archives and other transportation collections that contain images of aircraft, shipping, and urban rail transit. The Sperry–UNIVAC pictures document the original UNIVAC computer and its later versions through the 1970s and 1980s. Smaller collections illustrate other American industries.
Many collections document the growth of the American service and consumer economy. Packaging, advertising, and product design can be traced through pictures from our designer collections and the Strawbridge & Clothier department stores. Holdings are particularly strong regarding alcoholic beverages (Joseph E. Seagram & Sons), cosmetics (Avon), apparel composed of synthetic fibers (DuPont), telephones (MCI), early service stations (Sun), and convenience stores (Wawa). We also hold thousands of late nineteenth century trade cards that advertise a diverse range of products.
Several collections cover a multitude of research subjects. Twelve thousand aerial photographs taken by Philadelphia's Dallin Aerial Survey Company between 1925 and 1940 illustrate estates, factories, city and town centers, housing, rivers, and golf courses in the Mid-Atlantic region. The Chamber of Commerce of the United States Photograph Collection includes more than 15,000 pictures on business and labor in major sectors of the economy, the American military in World War I and II, everyday life in many parts of the United States, and images from many countries, particularly in Europe and the Middle East. Photographs from the National Association of Manufacturers, the Society of the Plastics Industry, and the American Iron and Steel Institute show not only business meetings but also manufacturing processes and uses of the products sold by member companies. Photo albums and scrapbooks from the Centennial Exhibition of 1876 in Philadelphia show how businesses presented themselves at this World's Fair. Later World's Fairs are covered in several other collections.
Television shows sponsored by the DuPont Company in the 1950s and early 1960s and business news broadcasts by the Chamber of Commerce are among the moving images held in the Pictorial Collections Department. Film materials also include motion pictures from DuPont (agricultural chemicals), Pusey & Jones (ship launchings), Sun Oil, Sperry Gyroscope Company (gun sights and aviatronics), and the All-American Engineering Company (gliders and aerial recovery and catapult equipment). Video collections come from UNIVAC (technical presentations), Avon (television advertisements), and MCI (commercials, news coverage, and internal employee training films).
The Pictorial Collections Department has a growing collection of workplace-incentive posters, such as those printed by the Mather Company of Chicago in the 1920s.
For further information, contact Jon Williams in the Pictorial Collections Department at 302-658-2400 ext 276 or use our Ask Hagley online form.