Guide to the Photographs of Gregg L. Neel, c1880-1975

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Digital Research Library, University Library System

Summary Information

Repository
Detre Library & Archives, Heinz History Center
Title
Gregg L. Neel Photographs
Creator
Gregg L. Neel
Collection Number
MSP#140
Date [inclusive]
c1880-1975
Extent
.25 cubic feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
The material in this collection is in English.
Abstract
Gregg Neel was a prominent Donora (Washington County), Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania real estate developer and businessman who also played a significant role in local and statewide politics, medical care and insurance. These photographs include portraits and other shots of Gregg Neel, images of the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary, and other images.
Sponsor Note
This finding aid has been encoded as a part of the Historic Pittsburgh project a joint effort of the University of Pittsburgh and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Funding for this portion of the project has been donated by the Hillman Foundation.

Preferred Citation

Gregg L. Neel Photographs, c1880-1975, MSP #140, Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania

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Biographical Sketch of Gregg L. Neel (1893-1975)

Gregg Neel was a prominent Donora (Washington County), Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania real estate developer and businessman who also played a significant role in local and statewide politics, medical care and insurance. Neel was a prominent civic figure in Pittsburgh and remained active in the city until his death in 1975. Neel was born on February 1, 1893 as the only son of Rev. J. Thomas Neel and Rhoda A. (Gregg) Neel of Brownsville. In 1912, Neel graduated from Waynesburg College (Greene County, Pennsylvania) and, soon after, began his career in real estate and insurance. Neel established a real estate office in Donora and sold new houses for the city's middle class. He remained in the real estate and insurance business until Governor Edward Martin appointed him Pennsylvania insurance commissioner on January 19, 1943, a position he held for four years. This position was the first of many political positions that Neel held. Furthermore, Neel worked on many political campaigns for Allegheny County's Republican Party, including his unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for the mayoral election of Pittsburgh in 1941. Neel was an active member of the Republican Party throughout his life and at one time, served as secretary of the Republican Executive Committees for both the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and Allegheny County. Prior to his appointment as insurance commissioner, Neel was a strong supporter of Governor Edward Martin and served as the western manager and campaign manager for Martin's primary race for Governor in spring 1942. Neel also was a member of the Advisory Committee of the State Council of Defense of Pennsylvania during World War II.

Gregg Neel was active in numerous historical concerns across the state including the Pennsylvania Historical and Museums Commission, Fort Hunter Museum (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) and the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. While working with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museums Commission in the 1930s, Neel played an important role in the establishment of Old Economy Village (Ambridge (Beaver County), Pennsylvania) as a state run historic site. Neel was active with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania where he served as vice president and acting Secretary in the 1930s. During Neel's service to the Historical Society, that institution witnessed the greatest growth of programs prior to 1986, highlighted by the Western Pennsylvania Historical Survey that was led by Solon Buck. A lifetime member of the Sons of the American Revolution, Neel was an active genealogist and wrote the book The Ancestors of Gregg Livingston Neel in 1973.

Gregg Neel was involved with the local medical community through his service as last president of the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary and as a board member of Allegheny General Hospital. Located in the North Side neighborhood of Pittsburgh, the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary offered low cost and free medical care to Pittsburgh residents who could not afford regular doctors. The Dispensary was founded in 1873 as a successor organization to the Church Guild Dispensary, supported in large part by the work and money of Dr. Levi Harris. Noted Pittsburgh philanthropist Felix R. Brunot was elected the first president and Dr. Harris was elected vice-president. Like many relief organizations of its day, the Dispensary operated without government support and at a nominal charge for patients. While house calls by physicians was done at a fee, no charge was levied for visits to the Dispensary building that, after 1904, was located at 43 Federal Street in Pittsburgh's North Side neighborhood. By 1920, the Dispensary treated 551,289 patients at the Dispensary building and treated 30,000 more patients on house calls. In 1922, the Dispensary signed an agreement with the University of Pittsburgh, whereby the University would supply the doctors and nurses for the Dispensary as a training ground for students in their medical school. In 1931, the Dispensary changed their affiliation and opted to work with nearby Allegheny General Hospital through the hospital's outpatient clinic. After 1931, the Dispensary became a component of Allegheny General Hospital and continued the work defined in their 1873 charter.

Gregg Neel was also involved in numerous local and national civic, business and social organizations. Neel's long standing activity in the real estate business propelled him to positions in state-wide professional organizations including president of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Society, state counselor of the Pennsylvania Real Estate Association and governor of the Pittsburgh Real Estate Board. A member of the Chamber of Commerce of Pittsburgh, Chairman of the Municipal Affairs Committee for twenty-four years, and member of the Welfare and Charities Committee were yet other ways that Neel remained active in Pittsburgh. Gregg Neel was an Honorary Life Member of the Delta Mu Delta, a scholastic fraternity of the University of Pittsburgh. Neel served on the Board of Trustees of Pittsburgh Presbytery, as well as a member of its Executive and Finance Committee, and an elder of the Sixth Presbyterian Church. Neel also held memberships in Pittsburgh's leading social clubs including the Duquesne Club, Pittsburgh Athletic Association, Civic Club of Allegheny County, and Rotary Club.

Gregg Neel married Miss Hazel Mancha on February 3, 1914. Hazel Neel died on September 9, 1938, leaving Gregg with two daughters: Virginia Neel Alter (Mrs. Willard Stuart Alter), and Ruth Gregg Neel Soles (Mrs. Robert Lee Soles, Jr.). On July 1, 1951 Gregg Neel married Miss Avis Mary Curtis Cauley. Like Gregg Neel, Avis Neel was also actively involved with historical organizations in Pennsylvania. She served as the assistant state historian for Pennsylvania, the Director of Secondary Education for Pennsylvania, President of the Junior Historians Club, and was a member of the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Avis was the author of the book Remember William Penn.

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Scope and Content Notes

These photographs include portraits and other shots of Gregg Neel, images of the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary, and other images. Personal Photographs include studio portraits of Gregg Neel and his ancestors, photographs taken at various functions, and photographs documenting Avis Cauley Neel's involvement with the Junior Historian Club and other youth-based historical organizations and clubs. Gregg Neel's other photographs were taken at unidentified functions (c1920-1950). Mrs. Neel's photographs include group shots of junior historian clubs across the state, students with their projects, banquets and other events from the 1940s and 1950s. The photographs of homes include Neel's Squirrel Hill (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) house at 6318 Bartlett Street, c1940, and two houses, one identified as the Hopewell Presbyterian Manse, Luzerne Township (Fayette County), Pennsylvania, dating from the turn of the twentieth century.

Medical photographs document the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary and Allegheny General Hospital. These photographs primarily include exteriors and interiors of the Dispensary building at 43 Federal Street in Pittsburgh's North Side neighborhood, the construction of the Free Dispensary wing of Allegheny General Hospital, and the 1929 plaque honoring Neel's work for merging the Dispensary and Allegheny General Hospital. Of note is one photograph of patients in the waiting room of the Dispensary, c1920. Political Photographs include an image of Pennsylvania Governor Edward Martin signing a bill, c1940, and photographs documenting Republican Senator James John Davis' "phantom" residence at 219 Hornaday in Pittsburgh. These photographs (c1942) of Davis' empty Pittsburgh home were taken by opponents and contrasted with a photograph of his Washington, D. C. mansion to discredit his ties to Pennsylvania. The photographs all have captions on the reverse and might be partially responsible for his loss in his 1944 reelection bid for the United States Senate.

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Arrangement

The Gregg Neel Photographs are housed in one archival box and arranged alphabetically by folder title with personal photographs arranged to the front.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

Digital Research Library, University Library System  Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Summer, 2001

Senator John Heinz Pittsburgh Regional History Center
1212 Smallman Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
library@hswp.org

Revision Description

 Converted from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002 July 1, 2006

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research.

Restrictions on Use

Property rights reside with the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permissions to reproduce or publish, please contact the curator of the Archives.

Acquisition Information

These materials came in three accessions and were combined in 1994.

Acc# 1987.0062 Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Gregg Neel, (Personal Papers).

Acc# 1987.0063 Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Gregg Neel, (Records of the Pittsburgh Free Dispensary).

Acc# 1987.0064 Gift of the Estate of Mrs. Gregg Neel, (Allegheny General Hospital Materials).

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Alexis Morgan and  Corey Seeman on September 1, 1994.

Revision and rearrangement for the encoded version of the finding aid provided by Doug MacGregor on June 26, 2001.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Allegheny General Hospital (Pittsburgh, Pa)
  • Pittsburgh Free Dispensary (Pittsburgh, Pa)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Pittsburgh (Pa.) -- Medicine

Personal Name(s)

  • Neel, Gregg L. (1893-1975)
  • Neel family
  • Davis, James John (1873-1947)
  • Martin, Edward (1879-1967)

Subject(s)

  • Governors -- Pennsylvania
  • Hospitals -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Poor -- Medical care -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Medical care -- Pennsylvania -- Pittsburgh
  • Medical instruments and apparatus
  • Physicians -- Pennsylvania -- Allegheny County

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Collection Inventory

Personal Photographs 
  boxfolder
Neel, Avis Cauley  c1943-1956 11
  folder
Neel, Gregg  c1930-1975 2
  folder
Misc. Family Photographs  c1880-1975 3

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  folder
Homes  c1886-1940 4

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  folder
Medical Photographs  c1920-1970 5

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  folder
Political Photographs  c1940-1942 6

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