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Thomas S. Downing Jr. songbook

Identifier: HCS-003-004

Scope and Contents

This small volume contains songs and poems that Thomas S. Downing Jr. collected from his peers at Haverford College between 1869 and 1872. The verses, some traditional and some original compositions, cover a wide range of topics and give insight into the attitudes of Haverford students in the early 1870s. A number discuss college life, such as “To the Class of 1872,” or “Uncle John.” Some songs are narrated from the point of view of women, and some deal with African-Americans, Germans, or Native Americans. On at least one occasion, in 1872, Downing also used the songbook as a journal. A program from alumni day in 1882 is pasted into the book, and someone has compiled an index of the songs in the back.


  • Creation: 1869–1872, 1882


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Biographical Note

Thomas Stalker Downing Jr. was born in March of 1852, to Thomas Stalker Downing Sr. (b. 1813) and Elisa S. Downing (b. 1827), residents of West Whiteland, Chester County, Pennsylvania. Thomas Downing Sr. was a farmer and the son of Joseph M. Downing (b. 1787), a miller. Thomas Downing Jr. was one of six children; his siblings were Joseph Miller Downing (b. 1846), Mary A. Downing (b. 1850), Debbie Downing (b. 1854), Henry D. Downing (b. 1857), and Sarah H. Downing (b. 1860). The household seems to have been prosperous, for the family employed four servants and two farm hands. Downing attended Haverford College from 1868 through 1872; after graduating he returned to West Whiteland and became a farmer. According to census data, Downing never married. He died on February 24, 1926. A record of his death appears in the minutes of the Uwchlan Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends, suggesting that Downing was a Quaker.

Thomas Downing Jr. was not the first in his family to attend Haverford. His older brother, Joseph Miller Downing, entered the college in 1861 and graduated in 1865. When Joseph had a son in 1883, he named the boy Thomas Stalker Downing after the child's uncle or grandfather. This Thomas Downing matriculated at Haverford in 1901 and graduated in 1905.


0.1 linear ft. (1 box)

Language of Materials



This small volume contains songs and poems collected by Thomas S. Downing Jr. (1852–1926) during his time at Haverford College. Downing, the son of a prosperous farmer in West Whiteland, Chester County, Pennsylvania, attended Haverford from 1869 through 1872. After graduating, Downing returned to Chester County and became a farmer. Various Haverford students wrote verses in Downing's songbook, some traditional and some original compositions. They cover a wide variety of topics and offer insight into the attitudes of Haverford students in the early 1870s.


The songs in the book are roughly arranged by their contributor's class year and last name.


The Thomas S. Downing Jr. songbook was donated to Special Collections, Haverford College in 1940 by Mary Downing Godley Brown.

Processing Information

Processed by James Truitt; completed October, 2016. Revised by Addison Conn; completed March, 2018.

Genre / Form



Thomas S. Downing Jr. songbook, 1869-1882
In Progress
James Truitt
October, 2016
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 Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US