Biographical / Historical
Swarthmore College was founded on April 1, 1864, by the Religious Society of Friends (Hicksite), by Act of Incorporation of the Pennsylvania State Legislature.
In 1850 Martha Ellicott Tyson of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting hosted the first meeting of Friends of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting to discuss the need for the establishment of a preparatory school and college for the education of Quaker children and teachers. In 1854 that group circulated a report on this topic among other Hicksite Friends at their Yearly Meetings to create further interest in the project. On October 28, 1860, Martha Tyson hosted a meeting of Friends from the Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, which resulted in the appointment of a joint committee for the project.
In 1861 this committee established the Friends Union Boarding School Association to plan and raise funds for a preparatory school. The project grew to include a college-level program to train teachers for Friends schools. In 1862, the Friends Boarding School Association changed its name to the Friends Educational Association. It was this body that on April 1, 1864, obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania State Legislature for an educational institution to be called Swarthmore College. At its annual meeting in Philadelphia on December 6, 1864, the Friends Educational Association, its work now completed, merged with the newly established Swarthmore College Corporation.
The College Charter authorized the Board of Managers to raise capital funds through the sale of shares of stock in the Corporation, with each stockholder entitled to one vote at its annual meeting. Once $50,000 was raised, land was purchased in the Westdale section of Springfield Township (now Swarthmore), Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The College building was completed in time for classes to begin in the fall of 1869, with a co-educational program at both preparatory and college levels. The first college class graduated in 1873 with six women and one man receiving degrees. The preparatory division was phased out during the 1880s.
On December 1st, 1908, in order to qualify for participation in the Carnegie Foundation program for faculty pensions, the College secured a revision of its charter, eliminating the requirement that the Board of Managers be members of the Religious Society of Friends. This action eliminated the only formal link to Quakerism. At the same time, with permission from the stockholders, the Board of Managers reorganized the structure of the Corporation. A revision of the charter to eliminate stockholders was approved by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania on October 22, 1910. In addition to assuming the fiduciary responsibility for the College, the Board of Managers then elected its successors, appointed the President, Secretary, Treasurer and other officers of the College and adopted by-laws as necessary for the management of the College. Auxiliary groups of stockholders, such as the Swarthmore Stock Trust Association (also known as the Swarthmore College Trust Association) and the Swarthmore Stock Association were also disbanded, but still supported the work of the College until 1924, although with no official financial status.