Skip to main content

S. Francis Nicholson Family Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-275

Scope and Contents

The collection contains correspondence, financial records, memorabilia, and other papers of Samuel Francis Nicholson reflecting his career and life with his wife, Evelyn Haworth Nicholson.


  • Creation: 1900-2005


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce items in this collection beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to copyright law must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns. See

Biographical / Historical

Samuel Francis Nicholson was born May 29, 1900, in Baltimore, Maryland. His parents were S. Edgar and Rhoda Elma Nicholson, both of whom had strong Indiana Quaker roots. During his teen years, the family lived in Richmond, Indiana, where Francis attended school until his senior year. He graduated from Westtown School in Pennsylvania in 1917 and returned to Richmond, Indiana, to attend Earlham College. During the summer of his junior year, he served in the Quaker reconstruction effort in France and subsequently was a delegate to the First Friends World Conference in London in 1920. The family was long active in Quaker concerns; his father was one of the founders of the National Anti-Saloon League and an ardent pacifist, heading the Friends Relief Mission to Russia in 1923-1924. He also edited The American Friend and was an acknowledged minister. Francis's sister, Caroline, spent 1920-1921 in an A.F.S.C. child-feeding program in Germany and was a long-time teacher and vice-principal of the Westtown School. His brother, Vincent, was a C.O. during WWI and the first Executive secretary of A.F.S.C.

Francis graduated from Earlham in 1921 and then earned an M.B.A. from Harvard Business School. In 1923 he was hired by Provident Trust Company in Philadelphia, which later became Provident National Bank. He worked at Provident for over forty years and retired in 1965 as Vice-President in charge of the Investment Department. He was a prominent and influential financier, developing an investment strategy which came to be known as the Value Approach. A member of the Financial Analysts of Philadelphia, he contributed a number of articles to financial publications.

In 1925, he married Evelyn Hope Haworth under the care of Lansdowne Monthly Meeting. She was the daughter of James and Martha Day Haworth, born July 29, 1903. Evelyn was raised in Primos, Delaware County, and attended the public schools in Lansdowne and Swarthmore, but graduated from Westtown School. She became a convinced Friend at Lansdowne Monthly Meeting in 1919. She attended Swarthmore College in 1924-1925, leaving to marry Francis and raise their family.

Francis and Evelyn met through mutual friends, and both were actively involved with the Rose Valley Chorus. Evelyn sang with the Chorus through the 1950s, and Francis was the piano accompanist. The couple settled in Rose Valley, a borough in Delaware County, Pa., founded by noted Quaker Arts and Crafts architect, William Lightfoot Price. They had three children: James V. ("Tim"), Frances, and Joan H. Nicholson. The Nicholsons were active in the community, particularly the Rose Valley Chorus and the community swimming pool. In 1940, the family moved to a large home in Westtown, Chester County, with room for foster children and refugees of WWII.

In 1955, they built a house in Wallingford, Pa., where they resided until their move to the retirement community, Kendal-at-Longwood, in 1977. After Francis retired from Provident in 1965. Evelyn became more active in AFSC and Philadelphia Yearly Meeting projects, particularly the PYM Committee on Aging. Evelyn died January 8, 1994, and S. Francis died January 10, 2005, at the age of 104.

The Nicholsons were committed Quakers and dedicated members of Media Monthly Meeting. Francis generously donated his financial expertise to a number of Quaker organizations, especially Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Westtown School, American Friends Service Committee, and Friends Fiduciary Corporation.


11 linear ft. (22 boxes)

Language of Materials



S. Francis Nicholson was a prominent Quaker investment banker, longtime officer of Provident National Bank, Philadelphia, and active in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, A.F.S.C., and Friends Fiduciary Corporation. The collection contains correspondence, financial records, memorabilia, and other papers reflecting his career and life with his wife, Evelyn Haworth Nicholson.


Organized in nine series.

  1. Ser.1. S.. Francis Nicholson
  2. Ser.2. Evelyn Haworth Nicholson
  3. Ser.3. Nicholson Family papers
  4. Ser.4. S. Francis Nicholson Writings
  5. Ser.5. Provident Trust Company
  6. Ser.6. S. Francis Nicholson Miscellaneous Volunteer Financial Activities
  7. Ser.7. Friends Fiduciary Corporation
  8. Ser.8.American Friends Service Committee
  9. Ser.9. South African Divestiture Papers

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donors: Frances N. Beer and James V. Nicholson, 2010 (Accession number: 2010.010)

Related Materials

  1. FHL: RG2/Phy: Friends Fiduciary Corporation Records
  2. FHL: RG5/245 Harvey Family Papers
  3. Earlham College: Samuel Edgar Nicholson (1862-1934) Papers.

Separated Materials

Items that are bracketed were included in the donor's inventory but have not been deposited at Friends Historical Library. Location is provided as "Family." The family donated most of the Westtown-related materials to the Westtown Archives, including S. Francis Nicholson's alumni activities:

  1. Retained by family: Some personal papers have been retained by the family, in particular diaries kept by Francis and Evelyn. S. Francis Nicholson Diaries: 1913, 1915, 1916-17 (until Earlham), 1917-18, 1919 (France), 1920 (All-Friends Conference), 1920-21, 1921-22, 1922-23, 1923-24 12. Evelyn Haworth Nicholson diaries, 1924-1993.
  2. Westtown Archives: S. Francis Nicholson student papers concerning his activities as Westtown Music chair, Alumni Association, President Alumni Association, Friends of Westtown dinners, Reunions


  1. Times to Remember, S. Francis Nicholson and Evelyn H. Nicholson, 1984.
  2. Family Correspondence of Samuel Edgar Nicholson and Rhoda Elma Parker Nicholson, Frances Nicholson Beer, 2007

Processing Information

The papers were sorted and inventoried by Frances N. Beer. They were received in nine cartons. The order has been retained with some consolidation of related items (i.e. student papers). The family gave additional material to Westtown School and retains some personal papers noted on the original inventory, stored with the accession file.

An Inventory of the S. Francis Nicholson Papers, 1900-2005
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 or requesting repoductions from Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA