About 1924 Virgil Kauffman of Yardley, PA, a former WWI aviator in France, began to shoot aerial photographs for the Aero Service Corporation, which he soon acquired, in 1927. He ultimately assembled more than 20,000 photographs, and after he sold the company in 1961, these were stored in a Bucks County barn. The Library Company of Philadelphia was allowed to choose nearly 4000 of his large-format glass negatives in the early 1980s. An overlapping collection was acquired by the Free Library of Philadelphia, this of aerial views, but in the form of large-format prints, both from the Aero Service Survey Company and the Dallin Aerial Photograph Company.
Image of the Parkway and the construction of Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1927.
The present web-based index, provided by the Library Company in digital form and compiled from Aero Sevice records, applies mainly to the Library Company collection of glass negatives. At the Library Company, all of the images in the form of glass-plate negatives (plus approximately 250 prints of all those requested by patrons since 1985), are indexed by negative number.
The overlap in the collections means that many of the images indexed here also refer, by negative number, to prints at the Free Library. (There are, however, many gaps in the numbering and in the collections.)
The Free Library collection comprises twenty volumes of Aero Service Survey Company and two volumes of Dallin Aerial Photograph Company prints. Each volume gathers serval dozen large black and white glossy prints, measuring roughly 12 by 20 inches, in screw binders. They are listed in the a file-card finding aid referred to as the "Picture Index" in the Aerial Photo Studies section. These are arranged alphabetically by location on hand-written half-height index cards. Each card gives the volume and negative number of an image, as well as the date.
The list on the web can be viewed in a complete, less formatted version, ordered by the identification number for each negative, or in smaller, more fully formatted documents divided up greographically by county and keyed to the following map. The complete version includes not only all five counties, but also those photographs not located in the five-county Philadelphia area.