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Thomas S. Downing Jr. songbook


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

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.

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.

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.

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

Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
James Truitt
Finding Aid Date
October, 2016
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

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

Collection Inventory

Thomas S. Downing Jr. songbook, 1869–1872; 1882.
Volume 1

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