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Friends Neighborhood Guild

Identifier: SFHL-RG4-035

Scope and Contents

Correspondence, minutes, annual reports, financial papers, scrapbooks, historical, publicity, and membership materials, newsletters, pictures, and other records, relating to the organization's early activities as a mission and settlement house providing assistance to the poor, particularly immigrants and blacks, and its subsequent change of focus to community center. Includes minutes and reports (1905) of Friendly Settlement Association, another Quaker society involved in settlement work, and records (1907-1925) relating to Spring Street Settlement (founded 1906 as Spring Street Mission), including correspondence, minutes, scrapbook, and pictures.


  • Creation: 1880-1962


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See

Biographical / Historical

Friends Neighborhood Guild was organized in 1879 as Friends Mission #1 under the supervision of Philadelphia First Day School Union, an organization of Hicksite Friends. Its first mission building opened in 1880 at the corner of Beach Street and Fairmount Avenues in the Northern Liberties section of Philadelphia. Its initial aims were to provide religious and moral uplift, “a refining influence” for poor European immigrants living along the North Philadelphia waterfront. Early activities included worship services, youth meetings, a sewing school, and temperance meetings.

In 1898 it came under the care of the Philanthropic Committee of Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting (Hicksite). The following year, it moved to a new location at 151 Fairmont Avenue and was renamed Friends Neighborhood Guild. Its programs were aimed at families, especially children, and were expanded to include recreation, woodworking, a savings fund, a flower and fruit mission, assistance in obtaining fuel, and a probation officer. The work was carried out by volunteers until 1903, when Emily Wilbur, the first full-time staff member, was hired as General Superintendent.

In 1913 Friends Neighborhood Guild expanded with the purchase of Green Street Meeting House at Fourth and Green Streets. This important Hicksite meeting house was built in 1814, but by 1913 attendance had declined so dramatically that the Meeting decided to sell the building. Early in the twentieth century, under the influence of the social work philosophy, Friends Neighborhood Guild gradually changed from a mission to a settlement house. The ethnic mix of community residents gradually changed in the 1920s from mostly Central and Eastern Europeans (Jewish, Eastern Orthodox, and Roman Catholic) to largely black. In 1921 Friends Neighborhood Guild was one of the founders of the Welfare Federation of Philadelphia, and it is currently a United Way agency. Since 1950, with the formation of Friends' Self Help Cooperative, the Guild has been involved in efforts to improve housing in the East Poplar section of Philadelphia. In 1954 Friends Neighborhood Guild became incorporated, managed by a Board of Directors. In 1956 the Guild moved to its present location at 703 North Eighth Street.

While having no official connection to Friends Neighborhood Guild, Spring Street Settlement, located at 1223-1225 Spring Street, was established in 1906 to help improve economic and social conditions in a black neighborhood east of Broad Street in Philadelphia, close to the area served by Friends Neighborhood Guild. Its programs included recreation, instruction in shoemaking and sewing and other “useful arts,” material assistance, a probation officer, and a visiting nurse. It was particularly concerned with the housing conditions in the area and became inactive after 1925.

The collection also contains a small amount of material (1905) relating to the Friendly Settlement Association, another Quaker society involved in settlement work in Philadelphia.


4 linear ft. (8 boxes)

Language of Materials



Friends Neighborhood Guild is a social welfare agency established by Hicksite Quakers in 1879 to serve the Poplar section of North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It began as a volunteer organization for immigrant children and evolved into a settlement house and community center. This collection primarily contains early records of Friends Neighborhood Guild, and also the records of two related Quaker societies, the Friendly Settlement Association and the Spring Street Mission.


The collection is organized into ten series. The series are:

  1. Historical material
  2. Minutes (1880-1962)
  3. Membership (1905-1947)
  4. Financial records (1898-1947)
  5. Correspondence, primarily concerning fund-raising (1911 1914)
  6. Annual reports (1880-1956)
  7. Newsletters (1933-1947) and other printed material
  8. Miscellaneous
  9. Friendly Settlement Association (1905)
  10. Spring Street Settlement Records (1906-1921).

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

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Friends Neighborhood Guild, 1945, 1970

Gift of Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, 1964

Gift of Francis Bosworth1970

Related Materials

Additional Friends Neighborhood Guild archives have been deposited in the Urban Archives, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pa. See Series 1, Box 1, for an inventory of that collection.

Separated Materials

Duplicates of Annual Reports 1880-1956 and Annual Reports published since 1956 are filed separately in Serial Group 3, Friends Neighborhood Guild.

Processing Information

The material from the different agencies was given by Central Philadelphia Monthly Meeting as one donation, and it was sorted and arranged as a single record group. Subsequent donations in 1964 and 1970 were added to the collection. The collection reorganized and a new check list was prepared in 1988. Revised in 1999.

An Inventory of the Friends Neighborhood Guild Records, 1880-1962
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Encoding made possible by a grant by the Gladys Kriebel Delmas Foundation to the Philadelphia Consortium of Special Collections Libraries

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