Philadelphia: Images and Print


These primary sources offer a visual history of Philadelphia from the arrival of William Penn to the present. Including photographs, prints, and maps, these sources could be used by those interested in visual culture, urban studies, and Philadelphia history. Pedagogical goals could include the analysis of visual sources, discussing the representation of Philadelphia over time, and revealing the changing face of Philadelphia. 

Packet contents:

  • List of primary sources
  • Guiding questions
  • Articles for background 
    • Miller, Fredric M., Morris J. Vogel, and Allen F. Davis. “Introduction.” In Still Philadelphia, Xiii-1. Temple University Press, 1983. 
    • Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “World Cities, City Worlds.” In How to See the World : an Introduction to Images, from Self-Portraits to Selfies, Maps to Movies, and More . New York: Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Books Group, 2016. 159-208. 
    • Branch, Jordan. “New World Mapping and Colonial Reflection.” In The Cartographic State : Maps, Territory, and the Origins of Sovereignty, Cambridge University Press, 2013. 

Primary Sources

Thomas Holme. A portraiture of the city of Philadelphia in the province of Pennsylvania in America. London: Sold by Andrew Sowle in Shoreditch, London, 1683. Map [Digitized version]

George Heap and Nicholas Scull. An East Prospect of the City of Philadelphia. 1768. Engraving, HC12-5052 [Digitized version (slightly different from Haverford’s)]

William Birch. Penn’s Tree, with the City and Port of Philadelphia. 1828. Engraving, HC2017-0245 

A.J. Johnson. Philadelphia. New York: A.J. Johnson, ca. 1872. Map [Digitized version]

Stephen Perloff. Welcoming Freedom, Fairmount Park, Philadelphia, Pa. 1988. Gelatin silver print, HC09-4995

Harvey Finkle. Urban Playground, Philadelphia, 1995. 1995. Gelatin silver print, HC09-4950

Peter Sekear. Philadelphia, Morris Ave. Ca. 1938-1938. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6492 

18th & Cumberland Sts., Philadelphia, Pa. Ca. 1915. Gelatin silver print, HC08-0339 

William Earle Williams. Untitled. 1981. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6672 

William Earle Williams, Untitled. 1980. Gelatin silver print, HC12-6661 

There are many more related images and maps of Philadelphia available in Quaker & Special Collections. Please get in touch if you are looking for further resources!

Guiding Questions

Some helpful questions for discussion when viewing each item in this packet include:

  • What is the purpose of this image?
  • What do these images tell you about the city of Philadelphia? What about them says (or does not say) “Philadelphia” to you?
  • What arguments are the images making? How can you tell?
  • How does the medium (photo, print, map) influence your reading of the image? How is that reading different in a digital environment?