Philadelphia Yearly Meeting workcamps photographs
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
The first Friends Weekend Workcamp was organized by David Ritchie just before World War II. Designed to provide middle-class white suburbanites with a first-hand look at the problems that plague impoverished urban settings, the workcamps consisted of a weekend of labor on an abandoned or dilapidated house in Philadelphia, as well as intense debate and discussion of the root causes of poverty, racism, and oppression. In 1966, the Workcamp Program settled in the Mantua neighborhood of West Philadelphia. Under the Social Order Committee, the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee, which consisted of members from both the larger Mantua-Belmont community and Friends from PYM, sought to rehabilitate the area and organize community members. The Weekend Workcamps program was an important subcommittee of this joint committee. Friends Housing, Inc., an independent non-profit corporation, was also formed in 1966. The Corporation primarily fund-raised for the rehabilitation of vacant properties for low-income families, and the board included members of the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee. In 1974, both the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee and the Weekend Workcamps Subcommittee came under the direction of the Testimonies and Concerns Section (also called CCII) of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
The alliance between committee and subcommittee, however, only existed three more years after this reorganization. In 1977, the Mantua-Belmont Joint Committee sent a letter to PYM requesting the dissolution of the Weekend Workcamps Program and the acquisition of its budget to continue in its efforts at community rehabilitation. CCII evaluated this request and the efficacy of both programs, and as a result the Weekend Workcamps Subcommittee was set off as a separate committee. Renamed the Weekend Workcamps Committee, it continued to sponsor weekend workcamps throughout Philadelphia. Weeklong and International Workcamps were also introduced, and outreach to potential workcampers who actually lived in the workcamp areas was increased. In 1983, the Weekend Workcamp Committee bought the house in which its activities were centered, at 840 N. 42nd St. in West Philadelphia. Other important members of the Workcamp Committee and staff have included Peg Caruthers, Steve Kaufman, and most recently, Michael and Judy Van Hoy. Jim Hamilton, the building superintendent for Friends Housing, worked for over twenty-five years as a discussion leader at the Weekend Workcamps until his death in 1997. Under the reorganization of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1998, the Friends Workcamp Program was placed under the care of the Standing Committee for Peace and Concerns.
This collection is composed primarily of loose color photographs (now in sleeves) alongside a few black and white photos as well as a photo album.
This collection consists of two series: Weekend Workcamps, 1950s-1980s (formerly PA 085); and Workcamps, 1980s-2000s. There is no order within the series.
The Weekend Workcamps series, 1950s-1980s, was remved from RG2-Phy-774.
PA 134 (PYM Workcamps) was originally processed June 2006. In 2019, PA 085 (PYM Weekend Workcamps) was added to the collection as a second series.
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
This collection is available for research use.
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