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Philadelphia Textile School

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1876-2017 (Merged with Jefferson University)

E-Travel has five Analysis yearbooks online from between 1948 and 1971.  HathiTrust has the annual “Circular” for the textile school from 1898.  This functions as a catalog with illustrations.  Both the Philadelphia Times and Philadelphia Inquirer carried news from the school.  The original school seal (right) is from an 1898 "Testimonial." (HathiTrust)

Textile logi_edited.jpg


The Philadelphia Museum and School of Industrial Art was chartered in 1876 to provide “instruction in Drawing, Painting, Modeling, Designing, etc.”  The goal was to help in the “development of the Art Industries of the State.”


A school was added to the curriculum in 1884 to provide training for those entering the textile trade.  Among its departments were the following: Fabric Structure and design; Cotton, wool, worsted, and silk; Warp preparation and weaving, Color harmony and figured design, Chemistry, dyeing, and printing, Hosiery knitting; and Finishing.  This became the first textile school in the United States, freeing the American textile industry from dependence on European models and expertise.


Philadelphia Textile School provided both day and evening classes.  Some students completed the three-year course of study; others focused on one department.   My count of the 1948 enrollment shows only 11 females among 400 students.  The Delta Kappa Phi fraternity was founded in 1899, with the Phi Psi Fraternity added in 1903 and the Sigma Phi Tau (for Jewish students) in 1917.  In 1943 the female students organized the Kappa Sigma Phi sorority.  In addition, a Warp and Woof society was established in 1893 and a Crowfoot Society in 1925.


In 1941 Philadelphia Textile School underwent a name change to Philadelphia Textile Institute and was licensed to award bachelor’s degrees.  The 1948 Analysis shows that approximately seventy percent of graduates that year were pursuing degrees or diplomas in “Textiles,” the rest in “Chemistry, Dyeing & Printing.”  In addition to the yearbook, students published a student newspaper The Textile Engineer, a merger of two earlier publications, The Whiproll and The Spinneret.


In 1991 after Philadelphia Textile had added a School of Architecture, the school received university status and a name change to Philadelphia University.  Then in 2017, it merged with Jefferson University and continues today under the name Jefferson University.

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A design class at Philadelphia Textile School.  Image from the 1918 "Circular."

Bricks and Mortar

Textile classes began at the Pennsylvania Museum at 1336 Spring Garden Street.  But because of the need for more space for chemistry labs, dyeing vats, both hand and power looms, and exhibition space, the textile school moved to the upper three floors at 1303-1307 Buttonwood Street in 1892.  Each floor was 92 x 50 feet, lighted on all sides.  Quickly outgrowing this space, the school in 1893 moved to the northwest corner of Broad and Pine Streets, occupying the former Deaf and Dumb Asylum.


In 1949 the school moved to the East Falls section at 4201 Henry Street.  The Robert J. Reichlin House (1911) became the administration building.  Today the 100-acre campus contains 52 buildings.

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Google image of the Broad and Pine Streets building, now called Dorrance Hamilton Hall.  


            Team name: In the 1940’s newspapers referred to the team as “Weavers.  By 1962 teams were called 


            School colors:  Blue and Yellow were the colors for the parent school.  Present colors are Maroon and White.


In 1892 the Inquirer reported that Textile School had lost a football game to Lansdowne School 6-4 and to Manual Training School 16-0.  Textile apparently continued football through 1904 with games against Penn Military College, Temple, Drexel, Philadelphia Pharmacy and Williamson Trade School.


Early on Textile began the diverse sports history which continues today through name changes and mergers.  By 1908 newspapers show teams in baseball, basketball, track and field, golf, hockey, and gymnastics.  By the 1950’s Textile had become a NCAA College Division power, today offering teams in 15 sports.  Teams in basketball (35), men’s soccer (18), women’s basketball (9), baseball (3), women’s soccer (2) and volleyball (1) participated in national tournaments. 


Herb Magee came to Philadelphia Textile as a player in 1960 and stayed as coach. In 41 seasons as head coach, leading into the 2021-22 season, his teams have compiled a 1144-440 record.  His 1970 team won the  College Division national championship, defeating Tennessee State 76-65.

Note: Images are used in accordance with their “terms of use” as I understand those terms.  Recopying or republishing these images may be restricted or forbidden.

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