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David S. and Mary W. Richie Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG5-264

Scope and Contents

Collection of correspondence and related personal papers of David S. Richie, 1922-2005. The bulk of the papers relate to his involvement in work camps, cooperatives, and/or conscientious objection.

Includes those files without direct connection to either the Social Order Committee or Friends Housing, Inc. for which Richie maintained the official records. Related materials can be found in all three collections at Friends Historical Library, and individual papers and records may be interfiled in each. Original order within the folders has been largely maintained. In Series 2, the folders are grouped in a broadly topical arrangement, as determined by the Archivist. The latter include the following:

  1. COs, CPS Camps, and Other Men-In-Service
  2. Domestic Workcamps
  3. International Workcamps
  4. Other AFSC
  5. Mantua/Friends Housing
  6. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting
  7. Consumers Cooperative
  8. Unions

Series 3 contains biographical documents, which mostly consists of David S. and Mary W. Richie's school documents from Haverford College and Swarthmore College, respectively.


  • Creation: 1935-2005


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

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

David Shoemaker Richie served as Executive Secretary of the Friends Social Order Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting for 34 years. He is perhaps best known for his lifelong efforts in organizing work camps and promoting cooperatives, putting into action his personal philosophy of work is love made visible.

His 2005 obituary summarized the events of his life:

David Shoemaker Richie, 97 years, 4 days, (July 11, 1908), of Moorestown, NJ, died peacefully Friday morning, July 15, 2005, at the home of his daughter. A birthright member of the Society of Friends, he was the son of Edward Laurence and Anna Bailey (Shoemaker) Richie of Moorestown, NJ. He married Mary Wright, of Norristown, PA on June 8, 1935, at Norristown Meeting House; she preceded him in death, Sept. 12, 1977.

After graduating in 1930 from Haverford College -- where he had been an all-American soccer player with two of his brothers Robert and Tom -- he returned to teach social studies for nine years at his high school alma mater, Moorestown Friends School. From 1939 to 1973 he served as executive secretary of the Friends Social Order Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting. By 1940 he had established the concept of weekend work camps promoting educational opportunities for students to understand economic and social injustices, just as his parents had taken him on weekly trips to North Philadelphia to help provide for the poor when young. Weekend work camps became a 33 year commitment.

In 1946 he was asked by the Foreign Services Section of the American Friends Service Committee to start the concept of work camps and cooperatives in Poland and Finland. With the help of British Friends, he distributed clothing, food, medical supplies, and later helped with reconstruction in England, Finland, Germany, and Italy. This was the start of a lifetime devoted to serving others through work camp programs worldwide, putting into action his personal philosophy of work is love made visible. By 1953 the Yearly Meeting’s weekend work camps had grown to include 730 volunteers from 36 schools, engaged in 54 weekend work camps in West Philadelphia and Mantua neighborhoods, -- invited into the homes of 200 local families. David and a number of other PYM employees continued this work until 1973 when he retired, having served for 34 years -- possibly the longest-employed person in the history of our yearly meeting. He was the author of several publications. In 1973 he was presented with a unique honorary degree from Wilmington College (Doctor of Human Reconstruction).

In the late sixties he launched Friends Housing Incorporated for low income families in Mantua, a community in South Philadelphia. A love of his was transporting Mantua adults to surrounding Friends’ meetings, and organizing outings for their children to Friends’ farms and lakes became a tradition during his retirement years.

Work camps involve volunteers who labor together on community service projects and interact with members of that community. The concept of work camping had originated in postwar Europe in 1921, under the direction of Swiss pacifist, Pierre Ceresole. The AFSC began its involvement with Work Camps in 1934 when a water pipe was laid to a community of miners in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. David Richie and wife-to-be, Mary Wright, were participants in the first AFSC camp. The following year they served as residents in a program at the AFSC Bedford Street Mission (Philadelphia) while he was still teaching at Moorestown. Richie brought the program to Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1939 when he was appointed Secretary of the Social Order Committee. He originated the idea of weekend work camps in 1940, as a way to draw more young people into an awareness of social justice.

David also started the college-aged Interne (Student)-in-Industry Project, co-sponsored by the AFSC, in 1944, directing the first two summer groups and serving on the project’s advisory committee. A high school week-long program, “Close-up of Urban Problems,” began the same year.

In 1946, the AFSC sent David on the first of numerous trips to Europe; under the auspices of the Anglo-American Quaker Relief Mission, he worked on reconstruction in Poland, England, Finland, Germany, and Italy, returning to the US the following year. In 1957, he was invited by UNESCO to go to India to develop work camps and was elected as an advisory member of the Coordination Committee for International Work Camps. He made a five-month visit to Africa in 1960, the first of several trips funded by friends and former work campers.

In 1966, a New York philanthropist provided seed money for a Friends’ non-profit housing corporation. Friends Housing Inc. was formed to rehabilitate a section of East Mantua in Philadelphia. David Richie served as President of the Board of Directors which also included representatives from the community and members of the Mantua Belmont Joint Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.

Mary Wright Richie was born on December 6, 1906. She attended George School and Norristown High School before graduating from Swarthmore College in 1928. She died on September 12, 1977, and is buried in Moorestown Friends Cemetery with David Richie.


9.5 linear ft. (19 boxes)

Language of Materials



David S. Richie (1908-2005) spent his life devoted to public service, particularly in the areas of work camps and cooperatives. A birthright Quaker, he served as Secretary of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Social Order Committee from 1939–1973 and was president of the Board of Friends Housing, Inc. He also was involved with the American Friends Service Committee and other organizations. These papers are divided into correspondence, writings, and topical files as assembled by Richie.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Martha Richie, daugther, 2006-2007; Acc.#s FHL.2006.007, 2007.010, 2007.017, 2007.006, 2007.001, 2010.003.

Gift of Barbara Judson Terry, 1997; formerly cataloged as SC/198 Richie Manuscripts, Acc.# FHL.1997.074.

Related Materials

Researchers who are interested in the life of David Richie and/or the projects with which he was involved should also review the records of the PYM Social Order Committee and of Friends Housing, Inc. as both have the same provenance and may contain relevant material.


  1. Building tomorrow: some Quaker explorations / published jointly by the Social Order Committee and the Committee on Economic Problems of the Philadelphia Yearly Meetings of Friends. Philadelphia: Friends Central Bureau, or Friends Book Store, [1943]
  2. John Woolman speaks. Fairmount, Indiana, 194? [Compiled and copyrighted by David S. Richie and Leonard S. Kenworthy.]
  3. Building tomorrow: a religious search for a better industrial. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, Social Order Committee, 1959.
  4. In Preston, Ralph Clausius, 1908-, ed. Teaching world understanding. New York: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1955.
  5. Memories and Meditations of a Workcamper. Wallingford, Pa.: Pendle Hill, 1973.
  6. Weekend workcamping, an opportunity: why, what and how / written by David Richie, revised by Mark Paulmier, Paul Goldschmit, Joy Hopton. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, 1983.
  7. Education by exposure. [S.l. : s.n., s.d.]

Processing Information

The division of the collection was made by the FHL Archivist, but folder contents were maintained intact, and folder descriptions, when the folders were marked, were carried over to new labels; some of the folders were clearly either personal or committee, but others contain mixed records, and are housed with most relevant collection. Like many Quaker activists, Richie's activities were interrelated, and his papers reflect that.

Photographs removed to FHL Picture Collections.

David S. and Mary W. Richie Papers, 1922-2005
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Find It at the Library

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