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Charles De Garmo Papers

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-D04

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the official correspondence and other related documents, of Charles DeGarmo, fourth President of Swarthmore College (1891-1898).

This collection consists of five boxes of materials including correspondence, letters of admission, and requests for literature. There is a folder level inventory of contents.


  • Creation: 1891-1898


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

Charles De Garmo was born on January 7, 1849, in Wisconsin. He graduated from Illinois State Normal University in 1873, and after teaching in the Illinois public schools, he went on to receive his doctorate from the University of Halle in Germany in 1886. In 1875 he married Ida Witbeck, and they had three children. He became a professor of modern Languages and reading at his alma mater until he was elected President of Swarthmore College in September 1891. While not a Quaker, De Garmo's ancestors were Friends, and his views and philosophy were in keeping with the Society of Friends.

De Garmo's goal as President was to lift Swarthmore students out of their introversion and make them aware of the roaring tide of political and economic events transpiring in the outside world, or at least in their own country, according to Professor William I. Hull's unpublished history of Swarthmore College. To achieve his goal, he established a Department of Economics and Social Science. He was dedicated to quality education.

Under his presidency a great deal of progress was made despite an economic depression which began in 1893 and the frugality of the Board. A gym was built for women; the first two fellowships, the Joshua Lippincott Fellowship and the Lucretia Mott Fellowship, were established and awarded for 1893-94; and after a fire caused partial destruction of Science Hall, it was restored and enlarged in 1894-95. A chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was granted in 1896. In student life, interest increased in athletics and fraternities.

De Garmo wanted the Board to pay more attention to what other colleges in the nation were doing in terms of requirements and the quality and quantity of teaching staff and equipment. He also wanted more power as President, but the Board was not willing to relinquish its authority. Discouraged by the lack of support in his educational goals, De Garmo decided to return to teaching. He resigned in 1898 and became a Professor of Education at Cornell University. He retired in 1914 and died on May 14, 1934, in Florida


2.5 linear ft. (5 boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the official correspondence and other related documents, of Charles De Garmo, fourth President of Swarthmore College (1891-1898).

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: College President's Office

Processing Information

This collection was originally processed in the 1970s at which time materials were sorted, put into folders, and inventoried. In 1998/99, as part of the reorganization of the Swarthmore College Archives, the collection was reprocessed. Two folders were transferred from the RG6/D02, Edward H. Magill Papers (Correspondence with monthly meetings concerning potential college students, 1892, and Correspondence concerning a prospective student, 1895) and added to this collection.

Items were placed into acid-free folders and identification clarified. A small number of items were transferred to other locations in College Archives. After reboxing and labeling, a finding aid was produced, which was amended in 2001.


Finding Aid for Charles De Garmo Papers, 1891-1898
FHL staff
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Script of description
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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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