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Swarthmore College Corporation Records

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-B

Scope and Contents

The Swarthmore College Corporation Records contain records relating to the establishment of Swarthmore College as a corporation, including the Charter and its amendments, the records of the founding bodies, and the records of the stockholders as the source of authority for the Board of Managers.

Organized into five series:

  1. Charter and related documents, 1864-1964
  2. Founding committees and predecessor bodies to the Corporation, 1854-1868
  3. Stockholders of Swarthmore College, 1862-1910
  4. Swarthmore Stock Trust Association, 1887-1954


  • Creation: 1854-1964 (bulk 1854-1911)


Conditions Governing Access

Permission to this material is restricted and requires the permission of the President of Swarthmore College or the Chairman of the Board of Managers of the College. Contact the repository for details. Where available, access is through microfilm.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf Friends Historical Library as the owner 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

Swarthmore College was founded on April 1, 1864, by the Religious Society of Friends (Hicksite), by Act of Incorporation of the Pennsylvania State Legislature.

In 1850 Martha Ellicott Tyson of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting hosted the first meeting of Friends of the Baltimore Yearly Meeting to discuss the need for the establishment of a preparatory school and college for the education of Quaker children and teachers. In 1854 that group circulated a report on this topic among other Hicksite Friends at their Yearly Meetings to create further interest in the project. On October 28, 1860, Martha Tyson hosted a meeting of Friends from the Baltimore, New York and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, which resulted in the appointment of a joint committee for the project.

In 1861 this committee established the Friends Union Boarding School Association to plan and raise funds for a preparatory school. The project grew to include a college-level program to train teachers for Friends schools. In 1862, the Friends Boarding School Association changed its name to the Friends Educational Association. It was this body that on April 1, 1864, obtained a charter from the Pennsylvania State Legislature for an educational institution to be called Swarthmore College. At its annual meeting in Philadelphia on December 6, 1864, the Friends Educational Association, its work now completed, merged with the newly established Swarthmore College Corporation.

The College Charter authorized the Board of Managers to raise capital funds through the sale of shares of stock in the Corporation, with each stockholder entitled to one vote at its annual meeting. Once $50,000 was raised, land was purchased in the Westdale section of Springfield Township (now Swarthmore), Delaware County, Pennsylvania. The College building was completed in time for classes to begin in the fall of 1869, with a co-educational program at both preparatory and college levels. The first college class graduated in 1873 with six women and one man receiving degrees. The preparatory division was phased out during the 1880s.

On December 1st, 1908, in order to qualify for participation in the Carnegie Foundation program for faculty pensions, the College secured a revision of its charter, eliminating the requirement that the Board of Managers be members of the Religious Society of Friends. This action eliminated the only formal link to Quakerism. At the same time, with permission from the stockholders, the Board of Managers reorganized the structure of the Corporation. A revision of the charter to eliminate stockholders was approved by the Court of Common Pleas of Delaware County, Pennsylvania on October 22, 1910. In addition to assuming the fiduciary responsibility for the College, the Board of Managers then elected its successors, appointed the President, Secretary, Treasurer and other officers of the College and adopted by-laws as necessary for the management of the College. Auxiliary groups of stockholders, such as the Swarthmore Stock Trust Association (also known as the Swarthmore College Trust Association) and the Swarthmore Stock Association were also disbanded, but still supported the work of the College until 1924, although with no official financial status.


24 linear ft.

Language of Materials



Collection contains the records that document the founding of Swarthmore College, its preceding bodies and founding committees, Charter and amendments, records of stockholders and stockholders’ associations, the Incorporators and the first Board of Managers. Records consist of minutes of the Corporation, letters, books of stock certificates and ledgers.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Deposited by Swarthmore College Corporation

Existence and Location of Copies

Also available on microfilm:

  1. Minutes of the Stockholders, 1864-1905: R-SW10
  2. Minutes of the Stockholders, 1906-1910: R-SW6
  3. Minutes of the Stockholders, 1906-1910: R-SW7 (negative)
  4. Swarthmore Stock Association, Cash book, 1904-1910: R-SW6

Processing Information

The bulk of the material was received circa 1972 and processed as part of Swarthmore College Archives, Series 2, Official Records of the College. As part of the reorganization of the College Archives that began in 1997, materials were reorganized, and a new inventory and finding aid produced.

Finding Aid for Swarthmore College Corporation Records, 1854-1964
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

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