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Philadelphia Yearly Meeting workcamps photographs

Identifier: SFHL-PA-134

Scope and Contents

This collection is composed primarily of loose color photographs (now in sleeves) alongside a few black and white photos as well as a photo album.


  • 1950 - 2002


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is available for research use.

Copyright and Rights Information

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

The first Friends Weekend Workcamp was organized by David Ritchie just before World War II. Designed to provide middle-class white suburbanites with a first-hand look at the problems that plague impoverished urban settings, the workcamps consisted of a weekend of labor on an abandoned or dilapidated house in Philadelphia, as well as intense debate and discussion of the root causes of poverty, racism, and oppression. In 1966, the Workcamp Program settled in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Under the Social Order Committee, the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee, which consisted of members from both the larger Mantua-Belmont community and Friends from PYM, sought to rehabilitate the area and organize community members. The Weekend Workcamps program was an important subcommittee of this joint committee. Friends Housing, Inc., an independent non-profit corporation, was also formed in 1966. The Corporation primarily fund-raised for the rehabilitation of vacant properties for low-income families, and the board included members of the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee. In 1974, both the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee and the Weekend Workcamps Subcommittee came under the direction of the Testimonies and Concerns Section (also called CCII) of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

The alliance between committee and subcommittee, however, only existed three more years after this reorganization. In 1977, the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee sent a letter to PYM requesting the dissolution of the Weekend Workcamps Program and the acquisition of its budget to continue in its efforts at community rehabilitation. CCII evaluated this request and the efficacy of both programs, and as a result the Weekend Workcamps Subcommittee was set off as a separate committee. Renamed the Weekend Workcamps Committee, it continued to sponsor weekend workcamps throughout Philadelphia. Weeklong and International Workcamps were also introduced, and outreach to potential workcampers who actually lived in the workcamp areas was increased. In 1983, the Weekend Workcamp Committee bought the house in which its activities were centered, at 840 N. 42nd St. in West Philadelphia. Other important members of the Workcamp Committee and staff have included Peg Caruthers, Steve Kaufman, and most recently, Michael and Judy Van Hoy. Jim Hamilton, the building superintendent for Friends Housing, worked for over twenty-five years as a discussion leader at the Weekend Workcamps until his death in 1997. Under the reorganization of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1998, the Friends Workcamp Program was placed under the care of the Standing Committee for Peace and Concerns.


.6 Cubic Feet (3 boxes)




The Weekend Workcamps Program originated on the eve of World War II. It provides volunteers and opportunity to work in an inner city community, interact with neighbors, and dialog on peace and justice issues. Today the Friends' Workcamp Program operates under the auspices of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting's Standing Committee on Peace and Concerns. This collection includes miscellaneous photographs, primarily of Weekend Workcamps in the Philadelphia area, but also has some images of international workcamps and other projects.


This collection consists of two series: Weekend Workcamps, 1950s-1980s (formerly PA 085); and Workcamps, 1980s-2000s. There is no order within the series.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The Weekend Workcamps series, 1950s-1980s, was remved from RG2-Phy-774.

Processing Information

PA 134 (PYM Workcamps) was originally processed June 2006. In 2019, PA 085 (PYM Weekend Workcamps) was added to the collection as a second series.

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 or requesting reproductions from Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA