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Young Friends' Association (Philadelphia, Pa.)

Identifier: SFHL-RG4-058

Scope and Contents

The collection contains minutes, financial records, correspondence, and other records of the Young Friends' Association (Philadelphia, Pa.), a Hicksite Quaker organization established in 1888 for educational and social purposes.


  • Creation: 1888-1976


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

The PhiladelphiaYoung Friends Association was founded in 1888 by members of the Hicksite branch of the Society of Friends to provide a forum for study and discussion of Quaker history and principles. Later, in the early years of the 20th century, their objectives broadened to include development and maintenance of a center for Quaker activity and fellowship in Philadelphia.

The organizational meeting was held in October 1888 at the home of Robert M. Janney in Philadelphia. Among those present were Janney's sister, Mary, Isaac Roberts, William W. Birdsall, David L. Lukens, Charles Paxson, Elgar M. Townsend, and other Hicksite Friends. One of the stimuli for its formation was the recent publicity surrounding the Young Peoples' Society for Christian Endeavor. The Quakers felt that a similar group was needed in the Society of Friends; in fact, the success of their effort in turn prompted the formation of over thirty similar “Young Friends Associations” in and near Philadelphia by 1893.

The Young Friends Association elected Janney the first President. The name of the organization invited much spirited discussion, but finally William W. Biddle's suggestion was approved because it was felt that the word “Young” would serve to attract younger Friends, while older Quakers would not be limited by age in their right to membership. A simple constitution provided for the forming of four committees: History, Literature, Discipline, and Current Topics. Although the group was not officially recognized by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, meetings were held in Race Street Meeting House. The Association met monthly, and at each meeting a paper on some topic of interest was read by its author. Large meetings were held during Yearly Meeting. In 1895, the YFA of Philadelphia joined the General Association of Young Friends Associations, which merged with Friends General Conference in 1900 (See: RG4 Friends General Conference).

After a few years, it became apparent that a larger site was needed, for the Association as well as other Friends' activities. Through the generosity of individual Friends like Anna T. Jeanes, property was purchased at the corner of 15th & Cherry Sts. and a five story building was erected in 1899. In 1904, the structure of the Association itself was changed, and the old committees dropped in favor of a Sectional Committee having the power to undertake any projects which “might at various times seem advisable.” As this work expanded, it became necessary to become an incorporated body. This was accomplished in 1912. The first action of the new corporation was to take down the original building, and to erect on its site a new eight story structure, later called the Whittier Hotel. This location provided increased accommodation for Friends activities, including an auditorium, several committee rooms, offices, a restaurant, and a number of rooms for long-term residents and others visiting the City.

The Sectional Committee began to conduct pilgrimages, or visits, to local meetings, and to undertake service projects. By the late 1920's, however, this Committee asked to be discontinued because their work was being duplicated by a number of other Quaker organizations, including the Young Friends Movement. This was not immediately accomplished, but the focus of the group began to shift more and more to a social function and to the management of The Whittier Hotel. In 1945, the name of the group was changed to The Whittier, Inc. By the 1950s, the building was out-dated and no longer competitive as a hotel or social center. It was leased to Jefferson Medical College in 1955-1959 for use as a dormitory for nursing students, and thereafter to International House. In 1957, the group changed its name to The Whittier Association. In 1970, International House moved to West Philadelphia, and the Whittier was sold to the Philadelphia Redevelopemnt Authority in 1971. In 1974, its assets were merged with Trustees of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, and the funds were used in part for financing the building of Friends Center.

The Young Friends Association was similar in function to the Friends Institute, an Orthodox organization, founded in 1880.


13 linear ft. (28 boxes)

Language of Materials



Philadelphia Young Friends' Association was a Hicksite organization established in 1888 for educational and social purposes. The Young Friends Association established and operated The Whittier, a hotel and social center in Philadelphia. The name of the Association was changed in 1957 to The Whittier Association. The collection contains minutes, financial records, correspondence, and other records.


The collection has been divided into five series:

  1. History, Constitution and Bylaws
  2. President's Files
  3. Minutes and Reports
  4. Financial Records
  5. Miscellaneous

Physical Location

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

Custodial History

H.Mather Lippincott was the last Secretary of the Association. In 1971, The Whittier was sold to the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority, and in 1974 its assets were merged with Trustees of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: The Whittier, 1971

Donor: H.Mather Lippincott, Jr., 2000 (Accession #2000-051) Donor: Fort Myers Friends Meeting, 2017.034 Donor: Friends Center, 2018.067 Donor: Roxanna Schlimm, 2003.017

Separated Materials

The following manuscripts and printed material which were received with the records of the Philadelphia Young Friends Association have been transferred to other, more appropriate locations in Friends Historical Library:

  1. Germantown Friends' Protest against Slavery (facsimile), 1688 to PG 6
  2. Minutes of Devonshire Monthly Mtg., 9/9/1800 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC)
  3. Extracts of Minutes, London Yearly Mtg. 1744 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC)
  4. Extract of Minutes, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1749, 1750, 1758, 1770, 1771-1785, 1790-1799, 1805, 1847 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC)
  5. Extracts of Women's Minutes, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 9/25/1786, 4/18/1814 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC)
  6. Minute of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for Sufferings, 4/16/1785 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC).
  7. Committee report to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting on subject of Spirituous Liquors, 4/10/1788 to MEETING PAPERS (MISC).
  8. Letter from Robert Proud to the Overseers of the Friends Public School in Philadelphia, 8/8/1786, inquiring whether the Overseers or the Monthly Meeting own the property on which the Meeting House and school are built, and whether the Overseers have a rule that all shall be Friends. Remarks added 12/22/1789 on the duties of the Overseers and other Friends to the schools and scholars to PROUD MSS., folder C.
  9. Verse on Yearly Meeting Friends leaving for home, n.d. to MISC MSS, Friends, Society of. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. Verse.
  10. Two Discourses and a Prayer Pubically Delivered on Sunday the 17th and Tuesday the 19th days of May, 1767, at the Quakers Yearly Meeting, in Bristol, catalogued.
  11. Reports of Indian Committee to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1807, 1818 to PG 1.
  12. Representation of Grievances to the Assembly and Council of Pennsylvania, 12/6/1781 to PG 1
  13. Extracts of Minutes (Printed), Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1800-1804, 1806-1816, 1818, 1822-1827 to SG 2.
  14. Large pictures of The Whittier and its auditorium to Oversize Chart Case under “Whittier”
  15. The Friends Intelligencer 3/29/1902 to Duplicates.

Processing Information

Processed initially by FHL staff, ca.1972. In 2000, H. Mather Lippincott Jr., the last Secretary for The Whittier, gave a collection which included the contents of the 1912 cornerstone box and the final records of The Whittier. Also in the same accession were records concerning Friends Social Union and Media Monthly Meeting which were added to the appropriate collections, as well as some Quaker books. In 2005, The Whittier records were added to RG4/058. Deteriorating binders were discarded, and part of the collection refoldered and reboxed. In 2018, essays read at Young Friends meetings were added to Series 5, Miscellaneous. In 2023, P.Y.F.A. Players binder was added.

An Inventory of the Philadelphia Young Friends' Association Records, 1888-1976
FHL staff
ca. 1972, 2005, 2023
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

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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA