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Swarthmore College Career Services records

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-I002-A

Scope and Contents

The Swarthmore College Career Services records consist mostly of senior surveys and reports arranged chronologically. The senior surveys, issued in the spring of each year, ask graduating seniors about their post-graduation plans, professional or academic. The chronological files include lists of student names with post-graduation plans as well as aggregate reports and statistics about the class as a whole. Some additional supporting materials, such as internal correspondence, student lists and commencement programs, blank forms, and the other documents are also present for some years. There is also a list of job opportunities for Swarthmore College graduates, mostly from local Philadelphia area employers, 1947; and materials about the origins of the Extern Program (short-term job-shadowing) at Swarthmore.


  • Creation: 1947 - 2017


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Individual senior survey responses are restricted for 25 years, although the aggregate reports are currently open for research use.

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 in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf of 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

The beginnings of a career advisory program at Swarthmore College can be traced to 1915, when Professor Robert C. Brooks highlighted the importance of vocational guidance in a Collection talk. Brooks encouraged student groups on campus to invite alumni to speak to their groups about professional careers. This suggestion was quickly implemented by a number of student organizations. In 1938, the program was formalized when the Alumni Office was established. In addition to managing alumni records and facilitating relations between the College and alumni, the Alumni Office was tasked with developing a program of vocational guidance and placement for male students. Swarthmore’s program distinguished itself from personnel offices in place at other schools by emphasizing the importance of helping students choose a career and direct their studies accordingly, rather than merely matching students with available jobs.

Around the same time the Alumni Office began offering vocational advice for male students, the Women’s Student Government Association formed a Vocational Committee in 1938 to assist students in picking a career. One of the committee’s earliest efforts was organizing a Vocational Conference, held every two years beginning in 1938. The Vocational Conference featured a variety of speakers over a period of several days, contrasted with a series of lectures over several months. (An earlier Vocational Conference for women, organized by the Philadelphia Bureau of Occupations for Trained Women at the request of the WSGA, was held in 1924).

In the early 1950s, a new three-part vocational guidance and placement service program was launched, administered for the men by the Alumni Secretary and for the women by the Assistant Dean of Women. The plan entailed enrolling a group of alumni counselors willing to advise students interested in their particular occupation, a series of career conferences featuring representatives from various fields of interest as well as experts in vocational guidance, and a job placement service for seniors and alumni.

Later, the separate women’s and men’s programs were consolidated into a single Career Counseling and Placement Office, today known as the Office of Career Services.


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Although informal vocational lectures were offered on campus as early as 1916, it was not until 1938 that a formalized vocational guidance and job placement program was instituted at Swarthmore College. Initially, support was provided to male students through the Alumni Office and to female students through the Women's Student Government Association. The gender-segregated programs were later consolidated into a single Career Planning and Placement Office, today known as the Office of Career Services. The Swarthmore College Career Services records, 1947-2016, consist mostly of senior surveys and reports arranged chronologically.

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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 reproductions from Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA