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Delphic Literary Society Records

Identifier: SFHL-RG6-Q002

Scope and Contents

Includes the Delphic Literary Society's constitution, printed and manuscript histories of the group (1893, 1910 editions), handwritten minutes (1874-1894), library records (ca. 1893), censor's accounts (1879-1890) and treasurer's accounts (1874-1890). Also includes miscellaneous papers relating to the proposed Delphic Hall, the Delphic Senate, the minutes of the Delphic Senate (1893-1894) and scattered issues from 1890 to 1902 of the Delphic Chronicle (after 1891 the Delphic Oracle). All folders are organized chronologically.


  • Creation: 1874-1913


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

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

The Delphic Literary Society of Swarthmore College was founded in 1873 by a group of freshman men, unhappy that they had been told they would have to wait until their sophomore year to become members of the Eurodelphians (later the Eunomians), the only men's literary society on campus. The Delphic Literary Society was open to male students from any class, and its mission was to develop its members' debating and writing skills.

In their regular meetings, the Delphics debated contemporary and historical subjects, occasionally discussed literature, held mock trials, and invited outside speakers to lecture. The Delphics also organized a reading room which in 1893 boasted six daily newspaper subscriptions and was open to any student. They also started a library in 1875 that by 1893 had more than 1100 volumes; according to the group's printed history, it was used by the Swarthmore College history department as its primary reference library.

The Delphics produced a manuscript journal which included editorials, short stories, and humorous anecdotes about Swarthmore College professors and students. The Delphic Chronicle, a name that around 1891 was changed to The Delphic Oracle, was produced monthly from 1890 to about 1902.

In 1893-1894 and again in the 1909 -1910 academic year, the Delphics organized a mock US Senate, the Delphic Senate, in which various Delphics took on the role of US Senators and debated contemporary bills and issues. Annual debates were held between teams from the Delphic Literary Society, Somerville Literary Society and Eunomians from 1897 to 1901. The Delphics did not hold any meetings from May 25, 1903 to March 24, 1905. The last document in this collection on the Delphics is a 1913 letter to Delphic alumni, asking them to donate money to help build a hall on campus to serve as the Delphics' meeting place and to house their library.

In 1913, the group merged with the Eunomian Literary Society to became the Athenaeum. That group ceased operation about 1918.


1.5 linear ft. (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Delphic Literary Society was a Swarthmore College men's literary society established in 1874. In 1913, the group merged with the Eunomian Society to became the Athenaeum. Records include the Delphic Literary Society's constitution, histories of the group, minutes, library and financial records, censor's accounts, miscellaneous papers and scattered issues from 1890 to 1902 of the Delphic Chronicle and Delphic Oracle.

Physical Location

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

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: Delphic Literary Society

Related Materials

RG6/Q/001, Somerville Literary Society Records

RG6/Q/003, Eunomian Literary Society Records

Finding aid for Delphic Literary Society Records, 1874-1913
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