George Stephens papers
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
George Stephens (alternately spelled "Stevens," "Steevens," "Stevinz," etc.) is a fictitious individual with a nebulous connection to Haverford College. Stephens was created when Haverford students Jim Booth (class of 1973), Roger Easton (class of 1972), David Sloane (class of 1972), Ron Norris (class of 1971), Bob Schwartz (class of 1971), Carl Tannenbaum (class of 1971), and Steve White (class of 1971) were studying for a history exam and one of them asked "who was George Stephens?" The group crafted an identity for Stephens and from there the legend grew. They formed the George Stephens Memorial Association in 1969. The first George Stephens Memorial Dinner was held in 1970, at which time the first gift of "Stephensiana" was presented to the College and displayed in the Sharpless Gallery of Magill Library. At the 1977 Memorial Dinner, President John R. Coleman was presented with the first George Stevens Unmentionable Award and Bequest; photographs of this award ceremony are included in this collection. Edwin B. Bronner, Professor of History and Librarian of the College, was also the first Curator of the George Stephens Memorial Collection.
Tales of George Stephens's exploits grew more numerous over the years. Some stories identify him as a Haverford student while in others his connection to the College is unclear. The most popular story about Stephens identifies him as Ethiopia's goalie in the 1876 World Cup match against England. Due to various distractions and his own incompetencies, Stephens allowed England to score a single goal to win the match. Other tales identify Stephens as General George Custer's scout, implicate him in Rutherford B. Hayes's electoral victory over Samuel J. Tilden in 1876, and indicate that he sent William McKinley a faulty bulletproof vest that he was wearing at the time of his assassination in 1901. Stephens purportedly had relationships with several notable women, including journalist Margaret Fuller, trombonist Marguerite Dufay, and the also-fictitious Bryn Mawr Ice Cream Lady.
This collection consists of items related to and purportedly created by fictitious individual George Stephens (also spelled Stevens, Steevens, Stevinz).
The collection is divided into five series. The first includes works supposedly created by George Stephens, including correspondence, poetry, scholarship, and memoirs. Some of these items were created by Haverford students, faculty, and staff posing as Stephens while others were created by real people named George Stephens.
The second series consists of items about George Stephens, including artwork, poetry, photographs, correspondence, and Haverford lore. Most of these materials were created by Haverford College students, faculty, and staff to expand the mythos surrounding the fictitious George Stephens, but some items relate to real people named George Stephens or George Stevens, including a 2nd Lieutenant in a Civil War Union regiment and an American film director.
The third series contains materials related to the George Stephens Memorial Dinner, held from 1970 until at least 1986. These items include invitations, responses from invited guests, and photographs of the dinners. A series of photographs from the 1977 Dinner show President John R. Coleman being awarded the George Stevens Unmentionable Award and Bequest.
The fourth series includes materials related to the creation of the George Stephens collection. Many of the items in this series pertain to Edwin B. Bronner, Librarian of the College and the first Curator of the George Stephens Memorial Collection. There are also captions from various exhibits featuring the George Stephens Memorial Collection.
The final series consists of items purportedly belonging to George Stephens and other Stephens-related artifacts. Highlights of this series include George Stephens' diploma, his Haverford College soccer jerseys, his Ethiopian World Cup soccer jersey, a "fossil" of his prized race horse, and a "Save with Stevens" wooden bank.
The materials in this collection are arranged into series based on their relationship to George Stephens and their format.
Processed by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger; completed November, 2019.
- Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
- Finding Aid Author
- Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger
- Finding Aid Date
- November, 2019
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).