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.