The Friends’ Institute for Young Men was originally located at 112 N. 7th Street in Philadelphia when it was established in1880 to offer a reading room, lecture and meeting room where “suitable” periodical and other literature would be available to young men connected with the Society of Friends. There were approximately 200 original members of the Institute including Edward Bettle, Jr., Ellis Y. Brown, T. Wistar Brown, John G. Bullock, Richard Cadbury, Howard Comfort, William H. Jenks, John H. Dillingham, John B. Garrett, Robert B. Haines, Josiah Leeds, Charles Roberts, Thomas Scattergood, George Vaux, Asa Wing, Edward M. Wistar and others. Although women
were almost immediately allowed to use the reading room, by 1885, it was concluded that since women served on so many charitable and philanthropic organizations which held meetings in the Institute, the efficiency of the Association would increase, and there
would be no detrimental effect in allowing them to become members. At that point, the name changed to The Friends’ Institute.
Around 1892, the Institute moved to 20 S. 12th Street, where later it would share quarters with the American Friends Service Committee. The Institute’s purpose was said “to provide recreational facilities to Friends in the central section of the city.” Charter was granted by the Court of Common Pleas in 1887. At least by the time of the publication of the Inventory of Church Archives in 1942, there was no affiliation with Philadelphia Yearly Meeting and indicates “only a cooperative relationship with the church organization.”
(Information from annual reports of Friends’ Institute and Inventory of Church Archives)