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John G. Whittier Photograph Collection

Identifier: SFHL-PA-015

Scope and Contents

This collection contains portraits of Whittier at various ages, photographs of his homes, and a lithograph on stone, among other items.


  • 1807 - 1892


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is available for research use.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to reproduce images must be submitted to the Curator. Permission for publication is given on behalf 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

John Greenleaf Whittier was born December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was the son of John Whittier and Abigail Hussey Whittier, Quaker farmers, and began to write poetry at the age of fourteen. William Lloyd Garrison published Whittier’s first poem in 1826 and persuaded his parents to send him to Haverhill Academy for two terms. His poetry, influenced by Byron, Burns, and Wadsworth, was well-received, and he also edited several New England newspapers and served one term in the Massachusetts legislature.

In 1833, Whittier published a tract proposing immediate and unconditional emancipation of slaves. He became a leading abolitionist, writing poems and essays supporting anti-slavery, lecturing, and editing newspapers. Believing that the anti-slavery movement needed a political vehicle, he helped found the Liberty Party in 1839 and supported the efforts of Massachusetts legislators to influence decisions in Washington, D.C.

Poor health forced his retirement after 1840 to a house in Amesbury, Mass., where his poetry focused on New England rural life and traditions. In particular, his poems “Snow Bound” and “Tent on the Beach” were critical and financial successes, and he was widely accepted as a major American poet. His poetry focused on religious and moral themes, but was not encumbered by theological issues; he appealed to both Orthodox and Hicksite Quakers, combining Quaker quietism with a respect for the Bible. In 1881, he was awarded an LL.D. from Harvard, and he died September 7, 1892.


0.52 Cubic Feet (2 boxes)




John Greenleaf Whittier was a New England Quaker poet, journalist, and abolitionist. His poetry, inspired by his religious and moral beliefs, was well regarded during his lifetime, and he was respected by both Orthodox and Hicksite Quakers. This collection contains portraits of Whittier at various ages, photographs of his homes, and a lithograph on stone, among other items. Included are photographs removed from two albums and placed in sleeves.


This collection is arranged in folders by subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Estate of C. Marshall Taylor, 1958. Part of John Greenleaf Whittier Research Papers, RG 5/146.

Separated Materials

Part of this collection was removed from the John Greenleaf Whittier Research Papers, RG 5/146. Additionally, an ambrotype of JGW was removed from this collection and added to the Cased Photograph collection.

Processing Information

Reprocessed in 2018 to combine the C. M. Taylor collection (formerly PA 15A) with the Charles Francis Jenkins collection (formerly PA 15). Photographs were removed from two albums and placed in sleeves. The photos were sorted into series by subject. with the Taylor and Jenkins collections.
Zoe Peyton Jones
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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

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