Whitaker family photographs

About this collection

    In 1809, the textile manufacturer Henry Whitaker relocated his firm of Whitaker & Sons in Rochdale, England to Hudson, New York. In 1813, he relocated again, this time to Cedar Grove, Pennsylvania, along the Tacony branch of the Frankford Creek. Here, he established Cedar Grove Mills, one of the region’s earliest textile mills. Whitaker retired in 1822, passing the business on to his sons, Robert and William, who turned it over to their cousin, William Whitaker, who continued to operate the business as William Whitaker & Sons.
    From the 1840s until World War II, the Cedar Grove Mills specialized in mattress ticking, though, during the Civil War, the firm also manufactured woolen blankets for the war effort. In 1876, it purchased the nearby Tremont Carpet Mills and expanded into carpet manufacture. After World War II, the firm went into decline as the mattress ticking business moved south. They closed for the last time in 1970.
    This collection consists of photographs related to the life of William Whitaker. They document life, landscapes, and the built environments of eastern Pennsylvania’s rural manufacturing villages from around 1860 to 1913, particularly the region around Cedar Grove, now a part of Philadelphia. They also include images of the friends, family, travel, and property of the Whitaker family. Exterior and interior photographs of the Whitaker’s mansion are featured in several of these images, as are exterior views of Cedar Grove Mills.
    Image: Boat house and swimming hole, 1879. Click here to view this image in the digital collection.

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