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Margaret H. Collins Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-266

Scope and Contents

Collection of correspondence and related personal papers of Margaret H. Collins. Includes original poetry, drafts of articles, and general correspondence, as well as her records of the Community Support Corporation. The latter is made up of case files as well as before and after photographs of rehabilitated houses in Delaware County, Pennsylvania. Of particular interest is a large collection of original poetry of Hilda Worthington Smith, former Dean of Bryn Mawr and a Director of Bryn Mawr Summer School for Women Workers. She was a close friend of Margaret Collins, and evidently channeled communications to Margaret from her deceased parents.

This collection includes the following:

  1. 1. Correspondence and Writings
  2. 2. Community Support Corporation
  3. 3. Miscellaneous


  • Creation: 1932-2006


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

Margaret Hill Collins, a member of the Society of Friends, was an advocate for integrated housing in the Philadelphia suburbs.

In the early 1950s, Ms. Collins and her friend, Mazie B, Hall, helped organize Quaker-sponsored "fellowship weekends;" African American families from the city were invited to spend time with white families in the suburbs.

She subsequently earned her real estate broker's license and in 1956 founded Friends Suburban Housing, later Suburban Fair Housing Inc. The company faced harassment when it sold houses to African Americans in all-white areas, and in 1963, a three-day riot raged when a black family moved to a house in Folcroft sold to it by Ms. Collins. Over 20 years, Ms. Collins sold 232 homes to minorities in 57 once-white communities. In the 1960s, she sued the Main Line Board of Realtors after it denied her membership, and she won the case on appeal in 1973. She gave up her agency in 1975 after fair-housing laws were passed.

She spent the next 25 years renovating more than a dozen Delaware County houses to rent to low-income families. She served on the Board of the Community Support Corporation, a small non-profit.

Ms. Collins was a life-long resident of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Her father was a paper-products manufacturer. She earned an associate degree from Sarah Lawrence College, a bachelor's degree from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1939, and a master's in social work from Bryn Mawr College in 1940. She was a Tenant-Relations Assistant for the Philadelphia Housing Authority from 1940-1941.


2 linear ft. (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



Margaret Hill Collins, a member of the Society of Friends, was an advocate for integrated housing in the Philadelphia suburbs. These papers include her writings and poetry, personal correspondence, and the records of the Community Support Corporation. The latter was a small nonprofit that remodeled and resold homes in low income communities in Delaware County, Pa. It was established in the mid 1970s and was headquartered on Jackson Street in Media.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of the Estate of Margaret H. Collins, 2007

Related Materials

The records of the Fair Housing Council of Suburban Philadelphia, 1956-2000, are also housed at Friends Historical Library. Consult the finding aid for additional information.

Separated Materials

Awards removed from collection: FHCSP/Margaret Collins/A Realtor Committed to Fair Housing/45th Anniversary/October 13, 2001; Philadelphia Tribune Charities, Inc. Special Merit Award presented to Margaret Collins/who by her life, example and action has gently, but firmly battled housing discrimination and helped make her corner of the world come alive to the promise of equality for all/at Philadelphia/May 2, 1972; Upper Merion Martin Luther King Jr. Committee/Humanitarian Award/Presented to Margaret H. Collins/For your untiring efforts on behalf of Fair Housing Rights and Civil Rights in the 1960s in Upper Merion Township. Thank you for your devotion to the ideals of Dr. King and to the idea of justice-for-all. This award also honors the bravery and determination of your Real Estate Clients, your partners in this noble achievement/Given on January 17, 1997/King of Prussia, Pennsylvania.

Processing Information

Where possible, the arrangement of this collection was maintained as received by the Library.

An Inventory of the Margaret H. Collins Papers, 1932-2006
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

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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA