In 1906 the Keystone Automobile Club was established, and fifteen years later became affiliated with the newly formed National Motorists' Association, a group promoting national standards for roads, pedestrian and motorist safety, as well as the distribution of travel information. In the Library Company of Philadelphia's collection of photographs by the Philadelphia commercial studio The Photo-Illustrators are a number of publicity shots relating to the Keystone Automobile Club's activities during the 1920s through the 1940s.
The Photo-Illustrators. Keystone Automobile Club Testing Site, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1925. The Library Company of Philadelphia. Gift of Joseph Kelly.
an unidentified location, the Keystone Automobile Club set up an area
for motorists to test their car headlights. Club mechanics were on hand
to make whatever adjustments deemed necessary before the awarding of a
sticker indicating that the car possessed headlights meeting the city of
The Photo-Illustrators. Keystone Automobile Club Motor Patrol Changing a Tire, gelatin silver photograph, ca. 1937. The Library Company of Philadelphia. Gift of Joseph Kelly,
the late 1930s motorcycle-riding members of the Club's motor patrol
offered assistance to stranded motorists. Changing a tire with white
gloves on might have been problematic for our distressed motorist, but
it is a shame to think that this nattily dressed mechanic would get
grease on his uniform while performing his duties.
the summer of 1937, the Keystone Automobile Club launched a "new and
effective safety weapon," the safety test trailer. Licensed drivers were
invited to try out their skills in a series of tests housed in the
23-foot-long trailer. The safety trailer was also part of the Club's
educational program aimed at future drivers, and along with posters,
films, and textbooks sought to instill important safety lessons to
students from elementary school through high school.
Although the safety test trailer may not be pulling into your community
any time soon, the mission of automobile clubs today in promoting safe
habits for drivers and pedestrians has not changed over the decades.
Sarah J. Weatherwax
Curator of Prints and Photographs