About this Collection

Water M. Phillips interviewed over 150 civic and political leaders on subjects related to Philadelphia city government and history between the late 1930s and the 1970s. Related collection: Walter M. Phillips, Sr. Papers (Acc. 527)

About this Interview

Joseph Sharfsin gives his account of events beginning when he was a very young graduate of Dickinson Law School. He met S. Davis Wilson at a meeting. He was mesmerized by the flamboyant rhetoric and person style of the man who was then assistant to Will Hadley, Controller of Philadelphia. Wilson engaged Sharfsin to be his assistant and legal advisor. Wilson became mayor of Philadelphia in 1936. He named Sharfsin as his city solicitor. Philadelphia was in grave financial distress, heavily in debt. Sharfsin was the architect of a plan to save the city from total disaster by "hocking the gas works", putting up the city-owned gas works as collateral for a loan from the government aided RFC, Reconstruction Finance Corp.

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Biographical / Historical Note

Walter M. Phillips, Sr. (1912-1985) was active in Philadelphia civic and political life for over thirty years. He worked and volunteered in a variety of city and regional organizations. After retiring, Phillips initiated an oral history project, interviewing in the 1970s many individuals with whom he had worked.

Record Details

Joseph Sharfsin Oral History November 29th, 1977
Politicians, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
Sharfsin, Joseph
Personal Names:
Wilson, S. Davis (Samuel Davis), 1881-1939
Geographic Subject:
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Repository Collection:
Walter Massey Phillips Oral Histories
Oral Histories
Contact SCRC for the audio recording corresponding to this transcript.
Transcript Identifier:

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Transcript Note

This is a transcript of a tape-recorded interview. The interviewee/narrator read the transcript and made minor corrections, but the reader should bear in mind that it represents a transcription of the spoken word.

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About This Collection

Walter Massey Phillips Oral Histories

Ohist cover
Walter M. Phillips initiated an oral history project, and between c. 1974 and 1980 interviewed over 150 civic and political leaders.
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