Main content

Swarthmore College Engineering Department records


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 history of engineering at Swarthmore began in 1870 (soon after the college opened in 1869), when the college began to offer courses in mechanical drawing and surveying. Swarthmore's 1871-1872 catalog established a degree of civil engineering under Joseph B. Davis, the college's sole teacher of civil engineering. In 1872, Arthur Beardsley was also appointed as a professor of applied mechanics and physics, and became the college's first professor of engineering. By 1883, Beardsley held the title of professor of civil and mechanical engineering.

From 1870 to 1885, the college's engineering courses focused solely on civil and mechanical engineering. Students studied drawing, railroads, bridges, windmills, and water wheels. Engineering labs remained in Parrish basement until 1882, when they moved to the newly-constructed Trotter Hall.

Dr. Wilbur M. Stine arrived at Swarthmore in 1897, and established the college's electrical engineering program. From 1910 onward, the Engineering Department advanced, and developed specialized work for students in civil, mechanical, chemical, and electrical engineering. The college's programs for civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering became accredited in 1936, as the general engineering program was dropped.

During World War II, 49 Chinese military officers came to Swarthmore to both improve their grasp on English and study engineering fundamentals in civil, mechanical, and electrical engineering. World War II also brought a V-12 Navy College Training Program in engineering to the college. Swarthmore was one of only two colleges selected to give a Navy Civil Engineering program.

In 1958, the Engineering Department began to offer an Honors version of its program, aimed at providing an interdisciplinary base of engineering sciences, physics, and mathematics.

In the early 20th century, the Engineering Department gradually moved from Trotter Hall to spaces in Beardsley Hall (built 1904) and Hicks Hall (built 1919 and named after the Hicks family who attended Swarthmore). The Engineering Department moved into newly-built Maxine Frank Singer '52 Hall (also known as B.E.P., or "the Bep") in the summer of 2019.

This small collection consists of Swarthmore College Engineering Department brochures, newsletters, photographs, clippings, and other materials. Of special interest are a selection of letters, primarily notes from alumnni with life updates (including wedding invitations), as well as a letter from US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Transfer from Engineering Department, 2019.

This collection was processed in the summer of 2019.

Photographs of faculty were removed to Swarthmore College faculty photographs, SPA 207/F/Engn. Publications not related to the Engineering department, and duplicates of Engineering publications, were moved to RG6/A Swarthmore College Publications.

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Author
Anatole Shukla
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

This collection is available for research use.

Use Restrictions

Most of the material in this collection is copyright Swarthmore College per the institution's Intellectual Property policy. Inquire with the Curator of the Friends Historical Library for permission to reproduce.

Collection Inventory

Admissions brochures about the Engineering Department, 1928-2009.
Course materials: "Fundamentals of Computing and Numerical Methods", 1977.
Engineering Department newsletter: "Swarthmore Data Sheet", 1960-1963.
Engineering Department Newsletter: "Hicks News", 2000-2008.
Essay: "James D. Egleson and the Hicks Hall Frescoes" by Lisa Silverman, 1981.
Essay: "You Have Engineering Here at Swarthmore? Fancy That. Whatever For?" by H.S. Dunn, 1974-11-01.
Letter from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Frank Aydelotte, 1936-10-07.
Letters, mostly from alumni, 1940s.
Scope and Contents

Robert Harris, John (Jake) F.A., G.L. Cornman, John C. Bennett, John C. Bennett, John C. Bennett, Charles (Charlie), Robert Kentish Andrews, Paul Dicker, and J.H. Eastes

Letters, mostly from alumni, 1950s.
Scope and Contents

Sherry Hessler, Harold Benditt, Job Cromwell, Charles L. Logswell, Eigene Ira Gertler, C. Etheridge, Hal Bolofort (?), Nick Beldeen, Jesse Aureida, Charles J. Hesner, Robert S. Greenawats (?), Lawrence Merkel Handley, Bof Harris, James Hathcock, Paul Dicker, Lionel Friedman, and Bill Battin

Letters, mostly from alumni, 1960s.
Scope and Contents

John Norman Calvin, Marcia Anne, Thomas C. Lowe, Vivi-Ann, Elizabeth Harvey, John Mason Harker, and Cap Howell

Letters, mostly from alumni, 1980s.
Scope and Contents

Peter D. Blair

Photographs, approximately 1933-1974.
Scope and Contents

Engineering Class, approximately 1933; lab/equipment, 1934; group photographs (Tau Beta Pi?), circa 1974 (Carl Barus, Azim Dosani, Klaus Hein, Richard Lenz, John Luoni, Ray Steinmetz, Steve Zimmermann, Nur Bugdayci, Cam Forbes, John McCrumm, Joe Willis, Searl Dunn)

Publicity: newspaper clippings, 1953-1985.
Publicity: "Top Colleges for Science" information sheet, 1995.
Society for the Promotion of Engineering Education / American Society for Engineering Education event programs, 1932-1966.

Print, Suggest