Frank Aydelotte Papers
Scope and Contents
The Personal Papers, now Series 3, reflect the wide variety of Aydelotte's activities: academic, cultural, philanthropic, family matters, and governmental advising, in which he acted in a personal capacity and not as an officer of Swarthmore College. These papers span his entire career, as a Rhodes Scholar, professor of English at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, President of Swarthmore College, and Director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. The series is organized into the following sub-series as received: 1. Biographical and genealogical; 2. Diaries; 3. Correspondence.
- Aydelotte, Frank, 1880-1956 (Person)
Limitations on Accessing the Collection
Copyright and Rights Information
Biographical / Historical
While Swarthmore College had made academic gains during the administration of Joseph Swain, it was under Aydelotte that it became committed to excellence. Aydelotte is best remembered for the drastic changes he made in the school, not only in his revision of the curriculum but changes in student life as well. His first year was spent planning Honors courses, the structure of which would be seminar style, similar to what he himself had experienced at Oxford. An alternative to the pass degree, the Honors Program included examinations at the end of the senior year conducted by external examiners distinguished in the appropriate fields. In the fall of 1922, 22 juniors enrolled in the two year Honors Program in English Literature or Social Sciences. The number of students enrolled in the Honors Program continued to grow to about 40 percent and stayed there until the late sixties and early seventies, with the exception of the World War II years. Though the Honors Program was a great success, it was costly to run. However, Aydelotte had a wonderful ability for raising money, and during the years of his presidency he raised the endowment from three to eight million dollars and increased the yearly income from $470,000 to $925,000.
In other efforts to place the school into the realm of other prestigious colleges and universities, Aydelotte changed the student body and life on campus as well. The success of the Honors Program was largely due to the fact that he began raising the intellectual level of the college as a whole. He appointed teachers who were experts in their particular fields and improved the student/teacher ratio. Wanting to downplay the highly social aspects of campus life, he began to de-emphasize the role of football on campus, abolished hazing in fraternities, reduced the number of fraternity dances, and organized the independent male students. During his presidency, sororities were abolished. He raised the academic standard for admission by making acceptance much more competitive. Enrollment increased as he reached out to qualified students across the country and managed to gain applicants from a number of different states and ethnic groups.
In October 1939, Aydelotte resigned from the presidency Swarthmore College to become the second director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he served until his retirement in 1947. He had been a trustee at the Institute since its founding in 1930. Leaving Swarthmore College, he had succeeded in raising the intellectual level, established the Honors Program, and increased the College's endowment. Upon resigning from the presidency of the College and no longer concerned that joining the Society of Friends would give an appearance of partiality, he joined Swarthmore Monthly Meeting on Oct. 17, 1939. In 1945, he became a member of the Swarthmore College Board of Managers and also participated in the Joint Anglo-American Commission on Palestine. Frank Aydelotte died in Princeton, New Jersey, on December 17th, 1956, after several years of failing health.
120.5 Linear Feet (276 boxes)
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Series 3 was donated in 1977 by President Aydelotte's son, William O. Aydelotte.
- Guggenheim Foundation
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Middle East -- Politics and government
- Quakers -- Education
- Quakers -- Pennsylvania
- Rhodes Scholarships
- Rhodes Trust (Oxford, England)
- Swarthmore College
- Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania
- Universities and colleges -- Pennsylvania -- History -- 20th century
- University of Oxford -- Funds and scholarships
- Frank Aydelotte Papers, 1905-1956
- FHL Staff
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Language of description note
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
500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA