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Early photographs of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry

Identifier: PC-00-003

Scope and content note

The collection covers the early years of Drexel, with the bulk of the material dating from the late 1890s into the 1910s. The collection was compiled by the university archivist in August 2005 from photograph subject files. The use and provenance of most of the photos is unknown, but many can be found in school publications, such as the Lexerd and the Drexel Institute Bulletin.


  • 1885-1936
  • Majority of material found within 1891 - 1915

Access restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Usage restrictions

Consult archivist regarding copyright restrictions.

Usage restrictions

Consult archivist regarding copyright restrictions.

Administrative history

The Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry was founded in 1891 and first opened to students in 1892. At first, the institute consisted of the following eleven departments:

Missing Title

  1. the Art Department, including fine art, architecture, and later the School of Illustration taught by Howard Pyle;
  2. the Scientific Department, offering courses in physics, chemistry, and math;
  3. the Department of Mechanic Arts, providing secondary education and manual training;
  4. the Department of Domestic Economy, later the Department of Domestic Science and Arts, with courses in cookery, dressmaking, millinery, household economy, and human physiology and hygiene;
  5. the Technical Department, including electricity, machine construction, and mechanical drawing;
  6. the Business Department, which taught stenography, bookkeeping, and typewriting;
  7. the Department of Physical Training;
  8. the Normal Department for the Training of Teachers;
  9. the Department of Lectures and Evening Classes;
  10. the Library and Reading Room, which supported one of the first library schools in the country;
  11. the Museum.

After a great deal of administrative reorganization under the first president, James MacAlister, the departments were consolidated by President Hollis Godfrey into four schools in 1914. In the School of Engineering, the curricula offered through the scientific and technical departments became the basis for four-year degree-granting courses of study, while the courses offered in mechanic arts became a lower school offering non-degree or preparatory courses of study. The departments of domestic economy, business, and lectures and evening classes became the School of Domestic Science and Arts, the Secretarial School (later the School of Business), and the Evening School, respectively. The library school was discontinued in 1914 and reopened in 1922. The Art Department had closed in 1905, except for the Department of Architecture, which also closed in 1914.

When the Drexel Institute opened, all of its classrooms and facilities were housed in a single building, the Main Building, which was designed and constructed by the noted Philadelphia architectural firm of Wilson Brothers and Company. The building was completed in 1891. A second building, East Hall (later Randell Hall), was built in 1901.

Athletic activity began at Drexel with physical education, which was required and taught by the Department of Physical Training, while competitive athletics were organized informally by students. An athletic association for men’s sports, responsible for organizing games and fostering student interest in athletics, was established in 1895; a women’s athletic association was formed sometime before 1908. President Godfrey began a policy of official support and funding for competitive sports in 1914. Sports played in the early days of the Drexel Institute included football, basketball, baseball, tennis, riflery, track, and possibly crew for men and basketball and riflery for women. Other important features of student life include fraternities and sororities, beginning in 1900; student publications such as the Eccentric (precursor to the Lexerd) and the Triangle (founded in 1926); and extracurricular activities such as bands, orchestras, glee clubs, and theatre.


3.6 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials



This collection consists of photographs of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry from 1891 to 1936. It includes photographs of the exterior and interior of the Main Building, men’s and women’s athletic teams, and students from various academic departments.

Arrangement note

Arranged into four series:

  1. Buildings and facilities photographs
  2. Athletics photographs
  3. Academic program photographs
  4. Student life photographs


Provenance unknown.

Processed by

Kevin Martin.

Early photographs of the Drexel Institute of Art, Science, and Industry1885-1936
Prepared by Kevin Martin and Megan Manchester.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the Drexel University Archives Repository

W. W. Hagerty Library
3300 Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
215.895.2070 (Fax)