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New York Female Association records

Identifier: SFHL-RG4-095

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of minutes and financial records. In its early years, the Committee met often, concerning itself with the affairs of its public schools. Common entries consist of lists of the numbers of attenders at a particular school and a judgement of the teacher. Also included in the collection are annual reports from 1821 and 1824. In 1889, a proposal was approved to limit meetings to once yearly. Most reports from the twentieth century list simply the names of members and their chosen charities. A useful historical synopsis of the association to 1981 is included in the collection.


  • Creation: 1798-1988


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

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Copyright and Rights Information

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

Established to give relief to sick poor non-Friends, the New York Female Association first provided aid to sufferers of Yellow Fever. In 1800, following a proposal to open free schools for poor children who lacked other means of obtaining an education, the NYFA opened New York's first public school for female students; Theresa Garvan was employed as the teacher. Until 1845, when it turned its school interests entirely over to the Free School Society, established in 1805 by Quaker men, the NYFA worked in conjunction with the FSS, and by 1825, 750 girls were attending several schools and learning reading, writing, arithmetic, and needle-work. Three years later, however, the schools for girls were dropped due to under-enrollment and the students began attending FSS coeducational schools. The same year, the Association opened a new infant school in the basement a Lutheran church, which it ran until 1845. That year, the association turned over its school affairs entirely to the FSS and since has contented itself with small gifts to public and private charities. In 1853, the Government of the City of New York assumed full responsibility for the educational system.

In 1915, the New York Female Association commissioned the Lindley Murray Fund, a charity organization formed to provide aid to black and native Americans, to manage its funds. It continues as of 1988 as a gift- giving committee consisting of six Quaker members. Although the association has never been affiliated strictly with either the Hicksite or Orthodox meetings, in 1828, the committee was primarily if not entirely Orthodox, and by 1901 the organization was composed entirely of Hicksites.


1 linear ft. (16 volumes)

Language of Materials



Formed in 1798 to give aid to the sick poor, the New York Female Association created the first public female school in New York in 1800. Until 1845, it worked with the Free School Society to establish and maintain public schools in New York while also continuing its efforts to help the indigent. Since 1845, the association has been a small gift-giving committee. The collection includes minutes and financial records.


The collection is divided into three series:

  1. Minutes
  2. Financial records
  3. Miscellaneous Papers

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The collection was given as part of the transfer of records of New York Yearly Meeting from the Haviland Records Room in 1997.

Processing Information

The collection was partially processed when received by Friends Historical Library. Items were placed in acid free-folders.

An Inventory of the New York Female Association Records, 1798-1988
POD assisted by RF
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