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Edward Parrish Papers

 Collection — othertype: RG6-D01
Identifier: SFHL-RG6-D01

Scope and Contents

The collection consists primarily of personal letters between Edward Parrish, Benjamin Hallowell, and Martha E. Tyson, concerning the founding of the college. There is also a letter sent to the Board of Managers from Edward Parrish requesting relief from the duty of soliciting funds. Other items include an extract from the Board of Managers reporting the death of Edward Parrish and a receipt for monies given for college catalogues.

This series consists of one folder of correspondence and miscellaneous papers, 1859-1872. Items are arranged in chronological order within the folder. When available, typescript transcriptions follow the originals.


  • Creation: 1859-1872


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research with the understanding that certain confidential materials may be redacted. Please contact the repository for more information.

Conditions Governing Use

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Biographical / Historical

Born on May 31, 1822, Edward Parrish was the son of Dr. Joseph and Susanna (Cox) Parrish, Philadelphia Quakers. In 1845 he married Margaret Shreve Hunt. Trained as a pharmacist, he operated a pharmacy in Philadelphia with his brother, Dillwyn, and taught at the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Edward Parrish was active on the committee of members of New York, Philadelphia, and Baltimore Yearly Meetings (Hicksite) which sought subscriptions for the founding of a college, and he was a member of the Board of the Friends Education Association which adopted a constitution in December 1862. Swarthmore College was incorporated in 1864, and Edward Parrish was one of its primary fundraisers. He was elected president of the College in May 1865, and raising money for the fledgling college continued to be one of his most important jobs. The College finally opened in the fall of 1869 in a large stone building known then as "The College" and now as Parrish Hall.

In addition to serving as president of the college, Parrish was also a professor of ethics, chemistry and the physical sciences. His liberal ideas on the discipline of students frequently clashed with some of the more conservative members on the Board of Managers who believed that the College should foremost provide a "guarded" education for Quaker youth. It is believed that the differences in philosophy of discipline and of the mission of the College are what caused Parrish to resign from the presidency in February 1871. After his resignation, the Board assumed most of the executive powers and appointed as president Professor Edward H. Magill.

Edward Parrish was active in a number of Quaker social concerns, and in 1872 he was appointed to a Commission to negotiate a treaty with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. While on this mission to Fort Sill in the Indian Territory, Edward Parrish died of malaria at age 51 on September 9, 1872.


0.21 linear ft. (1 box (20 items))

Language of Materials



This collection contains miscellaneous correspondence of Edward Parrish, first president of Swarthmore College (1864-1871).

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 President's Office, ca. 1972

Related Materials

Swarthmore College. Founding Committees and Predecessors to the Board of Managers. RG6/B2, Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pa.

Diary, 1866-1872. Gift of Dillwyn Parrish, 1955. Begins with a brief synopsis of his election to the presidency of the College. Ends with his resignation and the death of his wife in 1872.

Processing Information

This collection was foldered and inventoried on a summary checklist for the Swarthmore College Archives by the staff of Friends Historical Library circa 1976. In 1998/1999, as part of the reorganization of the College Archives, the inventory was expanded into a finding aid, with item-level inventory. Materials were rehoused and relabeled.

Swarthmore College Archives, Edward Parrish Papers, 1859-1872
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

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