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Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Records: Friends' Workcamp Program (1942-2015)

 Collection — othertype: SW/Phy/774
Identifier: QM-Phy-774

Scope and Contents

The collection is organized into ten series. The first two series contain the minutes and annual reports of the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee and the Weekend Workcamps Committee, both before and after it became an autonomous committee. Series 3: Committee Papers on Friends Housing Inc./Housing Opportunities in Mantua for Everyone Inc. (HOME), contains the documentation the Weekend Workcamp Committee kept related to these organizations. Series 4, Plans and Reports from Workcamps, is an especially important section since it contains descriptions and reports from individual workcamps over a span of two decades. There were a number of photographs removed from the collection, which are now located in PA 85, and as well as a box of slides placed in Friends Historical Library.


  • Creation: 1942-2015


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 Repositories. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Records Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. 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

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.


9.5 linear ft. (19 boxes)

Language of Materials



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. Records include minutes, reports, project files, correspondence, and other records from 1942 to the present.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposit, 1999, 5/2000, 11/2000, 2003, 2005

Separated Materials

The Weekend Workcamps Program came under the care of the Testimonies and Concerns Committee in 1974. For records during this period, see Series 10 of the Meeting for Social Concerns Records in RG2/Phy/758.

The records deposited by Judy Van Hoy in 2003 are described in this finding aid, but are arranged separately as RG2/Phy/776 rather than 774; at the time it was felt necessary to maintain that arrangement because there were additional records in that deposit from a number of unrelated PYM committees. Much of the material contained therein is the same as in RG2/Phy/774.

Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Records: Friends' Workcamp Program (1942-2015)
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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