Guide to the Jack Robrecht Collection of Firefighting Photographs
Digitized Content

Summary
Collection ID:
NMAH.AC.1231
Creators:
Robrecht, Jack
Dates:
1852 - 1983
Languages:
English
Some materials in Spanish.
Physical Description:
1.5 Cubic feet
6 boxes, 1 oversized folder
Repository:

Scope and Contents
Scope and Contents
The collection contains primarily photographs and postcards relating to firefighting. Many of the photographs are of firefighting vehicles and apparatus, both horse-drawn and gasoline-powered. The cities of Philadelphia and Baltimore are especially well documented, though other cities are represented, including Hamilton, Ohio; Camden, New Jersey; Dallas, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Portland, Maine; New Orleans, Louisiana; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Newburyport, Massachusetts; and Flemington, New Jersey.
Series 1, Photographs, consists primarily of black-and-white and color, both original and copy prints, illustrations, and postcards depicting images of fire engines, firefighters, fireboats, fire stations, and firemen and fire equipment in parades. The photographs are arranged in numerical order (for example, JR-2) as assigned by Jack Robrecht, who assembled the materials. The other number system included the designation "V 408." This alpha-numeric number was applied by the Cigna Museum which held the materials prior to their donation to the National Museum of American History. Many of the images are heavily annotated by Robrecht, providing specific details about a fire engine, geographic location, and date. There are some membership cards, envelopes, and a Christmas card depicting images of fire equipment. Two inventories for the photographs are available. The inventories provide an object/photograph number, artist/photographer, title/caption, genre/classification, date and dimensions.
Series 2, Research Files, 1852-1983, consists almost exclusively of handwritten and typescript photocopies of fire-related documentation assembled by Robrecht. Included are sheet music, lists of statistics for fire alarms, inventories of equipment in parades, newspaper clippings, and an ink sketch of a fire ladder.
Series 3, Publications, [1859?]-1975, consists of original and photocopies of various fire-related publications. The only non fire-related publication is The Grace Log, a publication of Grace Line.

Arrangement
Arrangement
The collection is divided into three series.
Series 1, Photographs, 1880-1972
Series 2, Research Files, 1852-1983
Series 3, Publications, [1859?]-1975

Biographical / Historical
Biographical / Historical
Jack Robrecht (1916?-1993) was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He graduated from St. Joseph's Prep and attended the University of Pennsylvania. Robrecht worked for thirty-one years at the chemical testing laboratory of Atlantic Refinery. He retired in 1978. Robrecht always wanted to be a firefighter, but missed qualifying due to the age limit. Undeterred, Robrecht spent much of his life from 1941-1993 as a volunteer historian for the Philadelphia Fire Department. He was also a collector, author, and photographer of fire-related materials.

Administration
Processing Information
Collection processed by NMAH staff, 2011.
Author
Alison Oswald.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The collection was donated by CIGNA through Roxanne Korostowski, Director, Relocation Services on August 19, 2005.

Bibliography
Bibliography
Wallace, Andy. "John Robrecht, 76, Friend to Firefighters." (July 29, 1993), http://articles.philly.com/1993-07-29/news/25977190_1_firefighting-philadelphia-fire-department-trucks-and-chiefs (accessed on July 5, 2012).

Using the Collection
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research.
Preferred Citation
Jack Robrecht Collection of Firefighting Photographs, 1852-1983, Archives Center, National Museum of American History.
Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements
Gloves must be worn when handling unprotected photographs, negatives, and slides.
Conditions Governing Use
Collection items available for reproduction, but the Archives Center makes no guarantees concerning copyright restrictions. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.

Related Materials
Materials at the Archives Center, National Musuem of American History
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Fires and firefighting (series), circa 1821-1955. (AC0060)
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Fires and firefighting: stereographs, ca. 1875-1888. (AC0060)
Warshaw Collection of Business Americana, Inventions: stereographs, 1880s. (AC0060)
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, [Fire-fighters working water pump: Active no. 1810. photonegative] 1926. (AC0143)
Underwood & Underwood Glass Stereograph Collection, [Fire fighters in action.] 2031 photonegative. (AC0143)
Frank Seymour Firefighting Ephemera Collection (AC1232)
Materials at the Division of Home and Community Life, National Museum of American History
The Division of Home and Community Life holds fire-related artifacts. See Accession numbers 2005.0233; 2005.0279; 2006.0247; 2007.0160; and 2007.0174.

Custodial History
Custodial History
Transferred from the Division of Home and Community Life to the Archives Center in 2011.

Keywords
Keywords table of terms and types.
Keyword Terms Keyword Types
Fire stations Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fire engines Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Firefighters Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fire departments -- Pennsylvania Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fire departments -- Maryland Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Fire extinction Topic Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Postcards Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 1950-2000 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid
Photographs -- Black-and-white photoprints -- 1900-1950 Type Search Smithsonian Collections Search ArchiveGrid

Repository Contact
Archives Center, National Museum of American History
P.O. Box 37012
Suite 1100, MRC 601
Washington, D.C. 20013-7012
archivescenter@si.edu
http://americanhistory.si.edu/archives