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Magdalen Society Subscriber List


Held at: Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections [Contact Us]370 Lancaster Ave, Haverford, PA 19041

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

The Magdalen Society, founded in 1800 after a meeting of 23 citizens in the Friends Meeting House in Philadelphia, sought to reform "fallen" and "wayward" women and rehabilitate former prostitutes. Bishop William White and Mayor Robert Wharton led the society with the goal of "restoring to the paths of virtue those unhappy females who in unguarded hours have been robbed of their innocence." Rules in the asylum were strict. A high wall was later erected in 1811 to contain the admitted and enforce rules. The society targeted younger white women with the intention that they would be easier to reform. African American women were not allowed in the society (neither to serve on the board nor to be admitted). The society expanded in 1845 to better serve its inmates. Women in the homes focused on reading scripture, sewing, making yarn, and selling clothing, in hopes of becoming independent. There was also an emphasis on marrying the women off.

This collection is made up of a Magdalen Society Subscriber List (one sheet of paper). People who signed the paper pledged to donate money to the organization to help erect more buildings for the asylum. Donations ranged from $5 to $100, for a total of $1030. Notable donors include George Williams (one of the managers of the society) and Bishop William White (president of the society).

Single item

Purchase, 2022

Processed by Sakina Gulamhusein, completed March 2023

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Sakina Gulamhusein
Finding Aid Date
March, 2023
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Collection Inventory

Box 3

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