Parrish Hall, Swarthmore College


In the mid-19th century, a committee made up of representatives from three Hicksite Quaker yearly meetings — New York, Baltimore, and Philadelphia — selected the rural hamlet of Westdale as the location to build a co-educational college founded on Quaker values.

The new co-educational school was to be named Swarthmore College in honor of Swarthmoor Hall in England, home of Margaret Fell. The American Civil War caused a delay in its implementation, but on May 4, 1864, Swarthmore College was incorporated.

In May 1866, the cornerstone was laid for the imposing building later named Parrish Hall. The College and Preparatory Department officially opened in 1869. Within a year, Westdale, the traditional birthplace of artist Benjamin West, was renamed Swarthmore. Members of the Class of 1873 were the first students to graduate.

All materials shown here were exhibited at Swarthmore College Libraries in 2014 as part of the College’s sesquicentennial celebration. These materials are archived at Friends Historical Library.