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Joel Swayne diary

Identifier: HC.MC-975-01-078

Scope and Content note

This collection is composed of the single volume diary of Joel Swayne entitled, “Some account of my journey to the Seneca Nation of Indians and Residence Amongst that People.” Entries describe Swayne’s journey to the Seneca nation, and the two years he spent there. Swayne provides detailed descriptions of the chief, “Cornplanter,” the chief’s family, the village and villagers, cultural differences between the Quakers and the Senecas, the difficulty of the language barrier, and discussions between Quaker missionaries and Seneca members.


  • 1798-1800

Access Restrictions

The collection is open to research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17).

Historical note

The Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting began in 1795 and continues at the present time. Previous to this, Philadelphia area Friends formed the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures. The "Friendly Association" grew out of the violence of the French-Indian War of the mid-1700s and was active as a formal organization from ca. 1755-1764 (Parrish "Friendly Association History").

Work of the Indian Committee included teaching Indians and their children, monitoring legislation affecting Native Americans and helping them combat frauds and abuses. The Committee worked primarily with the Seneca on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservations in New York.

In 1798, five Quaker missionaries traveled to the Seneca Nation to instruct the members in husbandry and to establish a school. These men were three young men; Henry Simmons, Halliday Jackson, and Joel Swayne, as well as two Quaker elders, John Pierce and Joshua Sharpless. At the mission established by the Quakers, the men built a model farm, and a school was established and run by Henry Simmons beginning in the fall of 1798.

Sources: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee finding aid

Biographical note

Joel Swayne (1774/75-1850) was born circa 1774-1775, the son of Francis Swayne (1722-1791) and Betty Baily (1728-1789). He was a member of London Grove Monthly Meeting, and was later a member of Woodstown Monthly Meeting in New Jersey. In 1798, Swyane, with four other Quaker missionaries, traveled to the Seneca Nation to instruct the members in husbandry and to establish a school. Swayne died on October 5, 1850 in New Jersey, at the age of 75.


0.0625 Linear Feet (1 volume)




The Joel Swayne diary was purchased by Special Collections, Haverford College in 2015.

Related Materials

  • MC 950.101 Halliday Jackson papers
  • MC 950.135 Native American speeches
  • MC 975.01.069 Joshua Sharpless diaries
  • MC 975.01.072 Henry Simmons journals
  • MC 975.02.019 Henry Simmons letterbooks
  • MC 975.03.054 Henry Simmons commonplace book
  • MC 975.07.085 "The Code of Handsome Lake, the Seneca Prophet"
  • MS 1003 Associated Executive Committee of Friends on Indian Affairs records, 1758-1929

Processing Information

Processed by Kara Flynn, completed July 2015.
Joel Swayne diary, 1798-1800
Kara Flynn
July 2015
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Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

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Haverford PA 19041 USA US