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Joel Swayne diary


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 Indian Committee of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (PYM) began in 1795 and continues at the present time. Previous to this, Philadelphia area Friends formed the Friendly Association for Regaining and Preserving Peace with the Indians by Pacific Measures. The "Friendly Association" grew out of the violence of the French-Indian War of the mid-1700s and was active as a formal organization from around 1755 to 1764.

Work of the Indian Committee included teaching Native American people and their children, monitoring legislation affecting First Nations, and helping them combat frauds and abuses. The Committee worked primarily with the Seneca Nation on the Allegany and Cattaraugus Reservations in New York. Earliest work was with Cornplanter on both sides of the border in Pennsylvania and New York. In 1798, Cornplanter (Gaiänt'wakê) invited five Quaker missionaries to the Seneca Nation to instruct the members in husbandry and to establish a school. This group included three young men, Henry Simmons, Halliday Jackson, and Joel Swayne, as well as two Quaker elders, John Pierce and Joshua Sharpless. The men established a mission, including a model farm and a school, which was run by Henry Simmons beginning in the fall of 1798. Handsome Lake (Sganyodaiyo), Cornplanter's half brother, was exposed to Quakerism through these missionaries.

Work was also centered at Quaker Bridge ("Tunesassa"), New York, where Friends established a boarding school in 1852 adjacent to the Allegany Reservation. Friends Indian School operated as a boarding school for Native American children until 1938. The completion of the Kinzua Dam (Allegheny Reservoir) led to the flooding of much of the Allegany Reservation and the evacuation of Seneca families. Philadelphia Friends were active in helping the Seneca Nation fight the construction of the Kinzua Dam.

In 2022, the Committee's name was changed to the Quaker Fund for Indigenous Communities Granting Group.

Source: Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Records: Quaker Fund for Indigenous Communities and its predecessors (Indian Committee, Friendly Association) (1795- ) finding aid (QM.Phy.838)

Joel Swayne (1774/75-1850) was born circa 1774-1775, the son of Francis Swayne (1722-1791) and Betty Baily (1728-1789). He was a member of London Grove Monthly Meeting, and was later a member of Woodstown Monthly Meeting in New Jersey. In 1798, Swyane, with four other Quaker missionaries, traveled to the Seneca Nation to instruct the members in husbandry and to establish a school. Swayne died on October 5, 1850, in New Jersey, at the age of 75.

This collection is comprised of the single volume diary of Joel Swayne entitled, "Some account of my journey to the Seneca Nation of Indians and Residence Amongst that People." Entries describe Swayne's journey to the Seneca nation and the two years he spent there. Swayne provides detailed descriptions of the chief, "Cornplanter," the chief's family, the village and villagers, cultural differences between the Quakers and the Senecas, the difficulty of the language barrier, and discussions between Quaker missionaries and Seneca members.

The Joel Swayne diary was purchased by Special Collections, Haverford College in 2015.

Processed by Kara Flynn; completed July, 2015.

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
Kara Flynn
Finding Aid Date
July, 2015
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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

Collection Inventory

Diary, 1798-1800.
Volume 1

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