Skip to main content
Archives & Manuscripts

Parrish Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: SFHL-RG5-229

Scope and Contents

Collection contains papers of the Parrish family, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family. Includes correspondence, writings, and other papers of Edward Parrish, first president of Swarthmore College. The diary extracts and his entries in “Index of Subjects” document Edward’s frustrating tenure at the fledging College. Also of special interest is the correspondence of Dillwyn Parrish and his aunt and uncle, William and Deborah Parrish Wright; the letters of the Wrights in 1835 and 1836 give information about abolition and anti-slavery efforts in Lancaster County. A scrapbook assembled by Clemmons Parrish contains autographs collected by his brother, Thomas C. Parrish, in the 1860’s, and there is additional correspondence and genealogical material. While most of the items in the scrapbook contain merely a short note and signature, there is some substantive correspondence including letters from John Dickinson, Samuel Parsons, John Neagle, and Maria Mitchell.

Organization: Organized into three series: 1. Edward Parrish; 2. Correspondence and album; 3. Miscellaneous.

Dates

  • 1780-1966

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Biographical / Historical

The Parrish family, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family, moved north from the western shore of Maryland to Philadelphia in the middle of the 18th century. John Parrish (1729-1807), the son of John, was married to Ann Wilson at Philadelphia meeting in 1753. His brother, Isaac (1734-1826), married Sarah Mitchell six years later. Isaac’s youngest child, Joseph (1779-1840) was born in 1779 and married Susanna Cox, daughter of John Cox and Ann Dillwyn in 1808 in Burlington, New Jersey. Joseph was a prominent Philadelphia physician and philanthropist.

Deborah Parrish (1773-1856), daughter of Isaac, married William Wright of Columbia, Pennsylvania, in 1800. William Wright was an ardent abolitionist who was actively involved in the Underground Railroad in Lancaster County.

Joseph and Susanna’s oldest son, Dillywn Parrish (1809-1886) graduated from the College of Pharmacy in Philadelphia. A member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting he served as Overseer, Clerk, and Elder. He was also a member of the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery and Improving the Condition of the African Race from 1832-1886 and served as its President in 1851.

Edward Parrish was the eighth child of Joseph and Susanna, born on May 31, 1822. In 1845 he married Margaret Shreve Hunt. Also trained as a pharmacist, he operated a pharmacy in Philadelphia with his brother, Dillwyn, and taught at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Edward Parrish was active on the committee of members of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore Yearly Meetings (Hicksite) which sought subscriptions for the founding of a college, and he was a member of the Board of the Friends Education Association which adopted a constitution in December 1862. Swarthmore College was incorporated in 1864, and Edward Parrish was one of its primary fundraisers. He was elected president of the College in May 1865, and raising money for the fledgling college continued to be one of his most important jobs. The College opened in the fall of 1869 in a large stone building known then simply as “The College” and now as Parrish Hall.

In addition to serving as president of the College, Parrish was also a professor of ethics, chemistry and the physical sciences. His ideas on education and the discipline of students clashed with some of the more conservative members on the Board of Managers who believed that the College should foremost provide a “guarded” education for Quaker youth. The differences in philosophy regarding discipline, the role of the president, and the mission of the College caused Parrish to resign in February 1871. After his resignation, the Board assumed most of the executive powers and appointed as president Professor Edward H. Magill.

Edward Parrish was active in a number of Quaker social concerns, and in 1872 he was appointed to a Commission to negotiate a treaty with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. While on this mission to Fort Sill in the Indian Territory, Edward Parrish died of malaria at age 51 on September 9, 1872.

Edward and Margaret Parrish had four sons and a daughter. Their oldest child was Thomas Clarkson Parrish (1847-1899). A member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, part owner of a Colorado silver mining company, and collector of autographs, Thomas died at his home in Colorado Springs, CO. Clemmons Parrish was the second child (1848-1912); he trained as a pharmacist and joined his father in business. Clemmons married Emma Powell in 1872, and they had two sons, Henry C. and Edward. Clemmons gathered and arranged the autographs in a scrapbook which apparently subsequently descended to his son, Henry. Henry married Bertha Lippincott, and they had four children, Edward Dillwyn, Henry L., Alice L. and Lawrence L. Parrish. Henry and Bertha and their sons were graduates of Swarthmore College.

Extent

1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language

English

Overview

Collection contains papers of the Parrish family, a prominent Philadelphia Quaker family. Includes correspondence, writings, and other papers of Edward Parrish, first president of Swarthmore College. Also of special interest is the correspondence of Dillwyn Parrish and his aunt and uncle, William and Deborah Parrish Wright; the letters of the Wrights in 1835 and 1836 give information about abolition and anti-slavery efforts in Lancaster County. A scrapbook assembled by Clemmons Parrish contains autographs and letters collected by his brother, Thomas C. Parrish. While most of the items in the scrapbook contain merely a short note and signature, there is some substantive correspondence including letters from John Dickinson, Samuel Parsons, John Neagle, and Maria Mitchell.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Libraries' online catalog: http://tripod.brynmawr.edu

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donation, Lawrence L. Parrish and Alice Hackett, 2003

Related Materials

Edward Parrish Papers, 1859-1872: RG6./ Ser. D01 (Use of this material is restricted and requires the permission of the President of Swarthmore College or the Chairman of the Board of Managers of the College)

Edward Parrish Diary, 1866-1872: Journals (Mss) Parrish

Separated Materials

Photographs added to PA 120: Parrish Family Photographs

Added to book collection:

Parrish, Edward, 1822-1872. An essay on education in the Society of Friends ... : with an account of the proceedings on the occasion of laying the corner-stone of Swarthmore College. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1866.

Parrish, Edward, 1822-1872. The phantom bouquet: a popular treatise on the art of skeletonizing leaves and seed-vessels and adapting them to embellish the home of taste. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott ; London : A. Bennet, 1862.

Memoirs of William and Nathan Hunt. Philadelphia: Uriah Hunt & Son, 1858.

Processing Information

Papers placed in acid-free folders and divided into series. Loose correspondence removed from the scrapbook and foldered. Acid-free photocopies made of clippings.

Creator

Title
An Inventory of the Parrish Family Papers, 1780-1966
Author
Finding Aid Prepared by FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Undetermined
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

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 Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

Contact:
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA