Philips Glass Plate Negatives Donated

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Old Kennett Meeting House, November 28, 1895. Photo by Charles S. Philips

Chester County Historical Society has received the gift of 62 glass plate negatives from two donors by amateur photographer, Charles S. Philips (1871-1937) to add to the over 460 negatives already in the collection.  ‘We are grateful to Friends of Auburn Heights Preserve and an anonymous donor to fill in gaps in the collection,” said Photo Archivist, Pamela Powell.

When Philips passed away, the family distributed the photographic plates to numerous interested parties.  It is evident by observing gaps in the original numbering, that CCHS only received part of the photographs that Philips produced.

The negatives include such subjects as Friends Meeting Houses in Pennsylvania and Delaware, Strode’s Mill and the Pennsylvania Railroad line east of Coatesville. They were received in their original sleeves with identifications in Philips own hand.

Philips took many bicycle excursions from Wilmington north into Chester County, PA to photograph mills, covered bridges, creeks and railroads in the area between 1895 and 1910.  As a draughtsman with the Pusey and Jones Company in Wilmington, he observed the landscape with an engineer’s eye. He recorded many of the interiors of the mills showing paper making as well as grist mill machinery.

During Big Dig 2018, the guide to Philips collection will be updated. Work will proceed on making available more of CCHS collection of over 8,000 glass plate negatives to researchers. The Photo Archives Department, as well as the library is closed during January to give staff time to complete cataloging projects to make the collection more accessible.