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Philadelphia Big 5
Records, 1954 - 1996

UPS 86.1 PB5

27 Cubic ft.
Prepared by Kaiyi Chen
January 1998

Access to collections is granted in accordance with the Protocols for the University Archives and Records Center.


Transferred to the Archives in 1997.



The Collection has been divided into three series:

  1. Administrative Records, 1954-1994
  2. Scrapbooks, 1956-1974
  3. Videotapes and Films, 1973-1996. The Videotapes and films have been arranged chronologically.



In May 1954, the University of Pennsylvania proposed to four other universities and colleges in the Philadelphia area--Temple University, Villanova University, LaSalle College, and St. Josephs College--that the five schools coordinate basketball game scheduling in Philadelphia. The Palestra gymnasium of the University of Pennsylvania, it was further proposed, would be utilized and designated as the home floor for all intercollegiate games. The proposal aimed to eliminate conflicting doubleheaders, save costs of promotion and have a greater use of the Palestra facilities. In November of that year, Gaylord P. Harnwell, President of the University of Pennsylvania, formally announced on behalf of the presidents of the five schools the formation of a cooperative arrangement on basketball games involving the five institutions for a five-year period beginning with the 1955-1956 season. The cooperative program was hence referred to as the Basketball at the Palestra Program or the Big Five Basketball Program and the director of the Penn Department of Intercollegiate Athletics or his authorized representative was designated to be the Manager of the program. The athletic directors of the five schools met from time to time and rotated to be in chair at the meetings. They discussed game schedulings and all other matters concerning the group, such as technical details of the rules of the game, promotion, publicity by television, ticket sales, and joint initiatives with nation-wide basketball organizations.

In 1960, the five schools agreed that the program be extended for another five years. The program has been renewed many times and remains active at the present. Since 1979, the program has used a new name--the Philadelphia Big 5-- and a new logo.



The collection documents the operation and activities of the Philadelphia Big 5 program since its formation in 1954.

The Administrative Records series consists of correspondence and reports to and from the Business Manager of the program from 1954 to 1965, the minutes of the Big 5 athletic directors meeting from 1973 to 1996, files of the Hall of Fame program, and financial documents related to income from ticket sales and tax.

The Scrapbooks series comprise seven volumes containing news clippings of the basketball games at the Palestra gymnasium from 1956 to 1965 and two that include information on team scores and schedules from 1965 to 1974.

The Videotapes and Films series represents the bulk of the collection. There are a total of 257 broadcast quality tapes and ten film reels, which have recorded games among the teams, men or women, of the five institutions in the Philadelphia area from 1973 to 1996 and, in addition, a few games between teams of the group and outside teams.

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