David W. Fraser papers
Scope and Contents
This collection of David Fraser papers, 1971-2007 (bulk 1982-1991), includes records from Fraser's time as President of Swarthmore College. Major topics include the construction of the Blue Route (I-476), financial aid, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, and senior staff retreats. Also to be found in the collection are: biographical information and newspaper clippings about Fraser; printed materials from his inauguration as Swarthmore College President; texts of speeches, remarks, and interviews given by Fraser; memoranda released by Fraser to the campus community; and more.
Perhaps the most substantial part of the collection is a series of journals that Fraser maintained from 1981 (working for the CDC), through his time at Swarthmore and Aga Khan, ending in 2007. Fraser's typical practice was to record notes in chronological order on the right side of each spread, sometimes returning to add notes and information to the left side of each spread. The inside cover of each journal features an index compiled by Fraser.
- 1971 - 2007
- Fraser, David W. (Person)
Limitations on Accessing the Collection
The collection is open for research with the understanding that certain confidential materials may be redacted. Please contact the repository for more information.
Copyright and Rights Information
Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the 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
David Fraser was the 12th President of Swarthmore College (1982-1991). Trained as a physician with an emphasis on epidemiology, Fraser is also known as an advocate of liberal arts education, a scholar of public health, and an artist in traditional methods of textile construction. He joined Swarthmore College in 1982 after working at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and resigned from Swarthmore in 1991 to head the Social Welfare Department at the Aga Khan Secretariat.
David W. Fraser was born in Abington, Pennsylvania in 1944. A member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), he attended the Quaker-affiliated George School before moving on to receive a B.A. from Haverford College (1965) and an M.D. from Harvard Medical School (1969). Fraser began working at the Centers for Disease Control in 1975, and while working there, he gained national prominence in 1976 when he led the field team that discovered the cause of Legionnaires' Disease. He also led the CDC team that first ascertained the role of tampons in causing Toxic Shock Syndrome. Fraser remained active in the field of medicine throughout his career, publishing numerous papers in medical journals and chapters in medical texts, serving on an Institute of Medicine committee on AIDS public health strategy, and consulting on epidemiology, international health, and related topics. Fraser is also an expert on traditional weaving techniques, particularly weft twining. A practicing fiber artist himself, Fraser has lectured and published articles and books on traditional weaving, and is a scholar affiliated with the Textile Museum in Washington, DC, and the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.
Fraser served as President of Swarthmore College from 1982 to 1991. In that period, he oversaw a number of changes to the curriculum, including an increasing focus on teaching modes of inquiry rather than straight facts; a greater emphasis on writing, leading to the formation of the Writing Associates program; and some changes to the college's honors program. During his tenure, concentrations in women's (now gender and sexuality) studies, computer science, and German studies were added; majors in theater and Asian studies were approved; and a dance program was added to the music department. Fraser spearheaded intercollegiate efforts to increase minority student and faculty representation in higher education, to keep eligibility for federal financial aid separate from registrant status for military selective service, and to enhance cultural exchange between undergraduate Soviet and American students.
After David W. Fraser left Swarthmore College in 1991, he accepted a position heading the Social Welfare Department at the Aga Khan Secretariat. He continues to serve as a consultant in the arenas of higher education, epidemiology, and material culture.
Fraser and his wife, Barbara Gaines Fraser, had two children together.
9 Linear Feet
David Fraser was the 12th President of Swarthmore College (1982-1991). Trained as a physician with an emphasis on epidemiology, David W. Fraser (b. 1944) is also known as an advocate of liberal arts education, a scholar of public health, and an artist in traditional methods of textile construction. He joined Swarthmore College in 1982 after working at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and resigned from Swarthmore in 1991 to to head the Social Welfare Department at the Aga Khan Secretariat. This scattered collection, which dates from 1971 to 2007 (bulk 1982-1991), primarily consists of records from Fraser's time as President of Swarthmore College, including the construction of the Blue Route (I-476), financial aid, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, senior staff retreats, and more. There are journals from his time as Swarthmore College president, as well as preceding years working for the CDC and Aga Khan.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
The bulk of materials were retrieved from Records Storage Room in Parrish with the permission of the President's Office, 2015.
The journals were gifted by David Fraser in 2019.
In 2015, these boxes were retrieved for review by the Swarthmore College Archives. Files were roughly in alphabetical order, so it is clear that many of the original boxes were missing.
This collection was processed by Constance Hawley under the supervision of Celia Caust-Ellenbogen in 2016.
In 2019, the journals were processed by Consolee Hitayezu and added to the collection.
- David W. Fraser papers, 1971-1993
- 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 reproductions from Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library
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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA