Main content

John G. Whittier Photograph Collection


Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. 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

John Greenleaf Whittier was born December 17, 1807, in Haverhill, Massachusetts. He was the son of John Whittier and Abigail Hussey Whittier, Quaker farmers, and began to write poetry at the age of fourteen. William Lloyd Garrison published Whittier's first poem in 1826 and persuaded his parents to send him to Haverhill Academy for two terms. His poetry, influenced by Byron, Burns, and Wadsworth, was well-received, and he also edited several New England newspapers and served one term in the Massachusetts legislature.

In 1833, Whittier published a tract proposing immediate and unconditional emancipation of enslaved people. He became a leading abolitionist, writing poems and essays supporting anti-slavery, lecturing, and editing newspapers. Believing that the anti-slavery movement needed a political vehicle, he helped found the Liberty Party in 1839 and supported the efforts of Massachusetts legislators to influence decisions in Washington, D.C.

Poor health forced his retirement after 1840 to a house in Amesbury, Mass., where his poetry focused on New England rural life and traditions. In particular, his poems "Snow Bound" and "Tent on the Beach" were critical and financial successes, and he was widely accepted as a major American poet. His poetry focused on religious and moral themes, but was not encumbered by theological issues; he appealed to both Orthodox and Hicksite Quakers, combining Quaker quietism with a respect for the Bible. In 1881, he was awarded an LL.D. from Harvard, and he died September 7, 1892.

This collection contains portraits of Whittier at various ages, photographs of his homes, and a lithograph on stone, among other items.

This collection is arranged in folders by subject.

Gift of the Estate of C. Marshall Taylor, 1958. Part of John Greenleaf Whittier Research Papers, RG 5/146.

Reprocessed in 2018 to combine the C. M. Taylor collection (formerly PA 15A) with the Charles Francis Jenkins collection (formerly PA 15). Photographs were removed from two albums and placed in sleeves. The photos were sorted into series by subject. with the Taylor and Jenkins collections.

Part of this collection was removed from the John Greenleaf Whittier Research Papers, RG 5/146. Additionally, an ambrotype of JGW was removed from this collection and added to the Cased Photograph collection.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Zoe Peyton Jones
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

This collection is available for research use.

Use Restrictions

Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See

Collection Inventory

Whittier Portraits.
Whittier homes / related places.
Scope and Contents

One of these pictures shows Whittier on the porch. It was one of the last photos taken of him before his death.

Whittier family.
Scope and Contents

This folder contains photos of a barefoot boy, a picture of Bernard Barton, "Calling the Bees," pictures of unidentified buildings, and the schoolboy monument, among others.

Scope and Contents

This folder contains articles, clippings, announcements, pamphlets, a program of "Exercises cCommemorative of [Whittier's] One Hundredth Birthday," a Haverhill calendar, and other pieces of Whittier memorabilia.

Lithograph on stone.

The Whittier Birthplace and surrounding places.
Oak Knoll, Danvers, Mass.
Whittier Portraits.
Other Whittier related.

Print, Suggest