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Friends South-Western Burial Ground Records

 Collection — othertype: SW/Ph/C406
Identifier: QM-Ph-C406

Scope and Contents

Records of Friends South-Western Burial Ground, 1827-2004. Includes a photocopy of the record of interments from 1895 which is still in use at the Meeting. Also included are interment permits, orders, and applications, as well as rule books and correspondence.


  • Creation: 1827-2004


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access may be provided via digital or microfilm copy, per repository policy.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Repository. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the individual Meeting or its successor. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Repositories as the holder(s) 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

Western District Monthly Meeting was set off in 1814. The first meeting house in that part of the City had been erected in 1685 -- the Centre meeting-house - probably near the southwest corner of Market and Broad Streets. This structure was abandoned at an early date, and the Twelfth Street Meeting house was not erected until 1812.

The first burial ground for Friends in Philadelphia was on a plot of land (the east side of 4th, south of Arch street) that was granted to Quakers by William Penn in 1701 "for a burying place;" it had, in fact, already been used for that purpose for several years prior to that date. So many people were buried there, Friends and non-Friends alike, that by 1794 there was very little room left. The Eastern Burial Ground was about 70 feet south of Arch Street above 3rd. The Western Burial Ground -- also called Sassafras -- comprised the entire block from 16th to 17th Street and Race Street to Cherry Street. Burials were recorded there from 1823 until 1884 when the site was taken over by Friends Select School. Friends also claimed title to the burial ground at Blockley (transferred to the Board of Health in 1819) and to a burial ground at Fair Hill which was retained by the Hicksites after the Separation. Members of Western District Monthly Meeting were also interred at Haverford.

In 1860, a joint committee made up of members of the four Orthodox Philadelphia monthly meetings could not agree on the purchase of a new burial ground. At that time, Western District Monthly Meeting went ahead and purchased a tract of land from Charles H. Wilbank and wife in Delaware County, Pennsylvania for its own use. This purchase, at 236 Powell Lane, Upper Derby, was bounded by Marshall Road, Sellers Avenue, and Spruce Street, close to the border of the City of Philadelphia.

Western District's tract was called Friends South-Western Burial Ground. It was laid out with both single graves in rows and family plots. In 1880, the other two Philadelphia Monthly Meetings jointly purchased part of the Friends South-Western property and established the Marshall Road Burial Ground on the same site. In 1915, the burials at Arch Street were disinterred and reburied at Friends South-Western. The remains at Western were also re-interred at South-Western.


3 linear ft.

Language of Materials



Records of Friends South-Western Burial Ground, 1827-2004. Located in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, Friends South-Western was established by Philadelphia Monthly Meeting for the Western District (Orthodox) in 1859. The burial ground is currently managed by Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting.

Physical Location

This collection is stored at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposit, Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, 2004-2005.

Gift, Gerry & Pauline Kelsey, 2005.

Deposit, Central Philadlephia Monthly Meeting, 2006.

Existence and Location of Copies

Records of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting (Orthodox), relative to its burials in Marshall Road and Friends South-Western Burial Grounds have been microfilmed and are available at Friends Historical Library: MR-Ph379 (1862-1898); MR-Ph380 (1899-1928)

Related Materials

Friends Historical Library also has an account book kept by Samuel Fogg who performed masonry and other odd jobs in the Philadelphia area, 1858-1887 (Mss001/020). By the mid 1860s, he was working almost exclusively for Western District Meeting and its Friends Southwestern Burial Ground. At the latter, he was did brickwork, digging and sodding graves, and supplied some headstones. The Friends Intelligencer records his death in 11mo 28 1893 in his 89th year; he was described as "care-taker of the 12th Street Meeting" (FI, 12mo 9 1893).

Friends Historical Library also holds the records of the Fair Hill Burial Ground of the Hicksite branch of Philadelphia Friends, 1705-[ongoing] (RG4/069).

Friends South-Western Burial Ground Records
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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 Quaker Meeting Records at Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections and Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library