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Swarthmore Historical Society General Reference Files


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 Borough of Swarthmore, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, was incorporated in 1893. Previous to establishment of the Borough, the area was part of Springfield Township. It was settled by Quaker farmers and is the traditional birthplace of Benjamin West, early American artist. The community, first known as Westdale, developed after Swarthmore College was founded by Hicksite Quakers in 1864 and the rail line was improved in the 1880s. The Swarthmore Historical Society (SHS) was established in 1988 to document, preserve and protect the historic resources of Swarthmore Borough, Delaware Co., Pa. One of its mission is to serve as the archives for the Borough of Swarthmore and as an information resource on the history of the community.

This collection combines related reference resources of Friends Historical Library and Swarthmore Historical Society and is administered by Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. It includes information on Borough government, business, organizations, schools, buildings and structures, writings and miscellaneous topics. Of particular interest are the field forms for the Historic Resources Survey published in 2001 by the Delaware County Planning Department; these file are updated when additional information is provided.

The reference files are organized in series: 1: Borough Government 2: Businesses 3: Organizations 4: Schools 5: Buildings and Structures, by street 6: Writings and reminiscences 7: Miscellaneoous subject files 8: Oral histories

In 1996 the collection of the Swarthmore Historical Society was deposited in Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. The material was sorted, described and combined with the reference files on Swarthmore Borough (Pamphlet Group 6) in the collection of Friends Historical Library. Because the histories of the Borough and Swarthmore College are intertwined, the two reference collections were consolidated to make the local history resources more easily accessible. In 2004, the reference collection was assigned a new catalog number RG 7/004 as part of the Swarthmore Historical Society Archives. Records of organizations and family papers are cataloged separately and assigned their own Record Group call numbers. The reference files contain both secondary and original papers which are not part of a larger collection.

The reference files are stored in the Workroom of Friends Historical Library, file cabinets.

For photographs of Swarthmore, see the FHL Picture Collection PA 64. To search the collection of local maps stored in Chart Case, see Swarthmore (Pa)

Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
Finding Aid Date
Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See

Collection Inventory

Borough Ordinances, 1893,1976.
Scope and Contents

Includes: Rules from public newspaper notices, 1893. Ordinances and Regulations, 3/1/1976.

Rules, 1910.
Scope and Contents

Rules, adopted 1910.

Record Books of Attendance, Council votes, 3/1893-1/1935.
Scope and Contents

Includes correspondence, standing committees, and a listing of Petitioners for the establishment of the Borough, copied by Mary Ann Jeavons.

Borough Tree Committee.
Borough Street Committee.
Borough Hall.
Centennial Park.
Little Crum Creek Park.
Umoja Park.
Thatcher Park.
Report of Borough Council, 1958-60.
Scope and Contents

Published, with articles and photographs.

Inventory of Swarthmore Borough Archives, 1996.
Scope and Contents

Inventory of Swarthmore Borough Archives stored in Borough Hall, including building permits and plans. Mary Ann Jeavons, compiler.

Miscellaneous clippings, etc.
Scope and Contents

Photocopies of items retained at Borough Hall.

Swarthmore Borough, Planning Study, 1964.
Comprehensive Plan, 1965.
Police Department.
Town Center Revitalization, 1999.

"College Inn" (proposed).
Eastlawn Cemetery.
Harris and Company.
Ingleneuk Tea House.
Michael's College Pharmacy.
Movie Theater (proposed).
Post Office.
West Hill.
Swarthmore Improvement.
College Tract.
Baird and Bird.
Clarke and Harvey.
Emmons, Louis Cole.
Fischer, Charles E.
Gillespie, George.
Thayer, Carroll.
Walton (Kent).
Witham, William E.
Development: Rutgers Ave. condos.
Strath Haven Inn.
Swarthmore National Bank.
Related Materials

See also RG 7/009 for its records.

Swarthmore Co-op.
Miscellaneous Swarthmore Businesses.
Scope and Contents

Includes lists of stores in 1909 and 1989.

American Legion Post.
Christian Science Church.
Swarthmore Methodist Episcopal Church.
Swarthmore Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends).
Related Materials

See also RG 2, Records of Swarthmore Monthly Meeting.

Swarthmore Presbyterian.
Related Materials

Maintains its own archives.

Trinity Episcopal Church.
Wesley African Methodist Episcopal Church.
Company H.
Friendly Open House.
Related Materials

See RG 7/007.

Girl Scout Troop #16.
Related Materials

See RG7/010

Players Club of Swarthmore.
Swarthmore Camp and Hospital Committee.
Swarthmore Chautauqua.
Related Materials

See also RG7/006.

Swarthmore Fire and Protective Association.
Related Materials

Fire Company maintains its own archives.

Swarthmore Garden Club.
Related Materials

See RG7/002 for records.

Swarthmore Historical Society.
Scope and Contents

The Historical Society has sponsored Centennial projects, Historic House Tours, Historic Resources Survey and the Historic Walking Tour brochure. See RG7/016 for records.

Swarthmore Horticultural Society.
Swarthmore League of Women Voters.
Related Materials

See also RG7/008 for records.

Swarthmore Public Library.
Swarthmore Lions.
Swarthmore Nativity.
Swarthmore Recreation Association.
Swarthmore Red Cross.
Swarthmore Rotary.
Related Materials

See RG7/003 for records.

Swarthmore Village Business and Professional Association.
Swarthmore Woman's Club.
Miscellaneous, 1984 & n.d.
Scope and Contents

Includes Caucus Notice, 1894, The Swarthmore Social Temperence Conference, n.d.

Scope and Contents

In 2015 a record group Swarthmore Schools, RG7022, was processed removing the bulk of the original material and merging with subsequent accessions. Clippings and topical reference remain in General Reference.

Public Schools.
"Union Room" for African American children and teacher Nona Royster Bragg controversy.
Swarthmore School District teachers' strike, 1978.
Swarthmore High School.
Scope and Contents

Includes history, articles, programs, etc. Of related interest is a collection of Swarthmore High School oversized class photographs, 1937, 1939, 1941-47, 1949, 1950-64, and 1968-69, stored with RG7 (basement). See RG 7/022

Swarthmore High School Sports.
Swarthmore High School football programs.
Scope and Contents

Stored RG7/004/B

Salute to Swarthmore High School, 1983.
Scope and Contents

Includes other materials of its final year.

Commencement Programs.
The Garnet Record: Swarthmore High School Yearbooks, 1928-1967, with gaps.
Scope and Contents

See RG 7/022

Class pictures, 1924-1967, with gaps.
Othertype Oversize
"Swarthmore as a Place to Live - Now and in the Future", 1998.
Scope and Contents

Proposal for re-use of District properties for seniors. Revised 1998.

Mary Lyons.
Scope and Contents

Includes yearbooks (with many gaps). See RG 7/022

Swarthmore Academy.
Swarthmore College.
Related Materials

See Swarthmore College Archives, RG6.

Swarthmore Preparative School.
Related Materials

See RG7/022 and Swarthmore College Archives, RG6 for Preparative Department, Swarthmore College.

Scope and Contents

Includes original field forms of site surveys. Organized by street address. Additional information and survey photographs compiled on individual addresses are filed with the surveys. Published survey with updated entries cataloged and available on reference, FHL Reading Room.

*Draft of "Delaware County Historic Resources Survey: Swarthmore Borough", 2001.
Related Materials

Final "Report of the findings of the Delaware County Historic Resources Survey for Swarthmore Borough" is stored in the FHL book collection (REF).

Architects active in Swarthmore.
Benjamin West.
Bryn Mawr.
Business District.
Related Materials

See also Park, Dartmouth, and S. Chester.

Chester Road - North.
Chester Road - South.
College Avenue.
College Buildings, campus.
Related Materials

See also street addresses.

Cresson Lane.
Crest Lane.
Dartmouth Circle.
Field House Lane.
Gilpin Tract.
Haverford Ave.
Haverford Place.
Scope and Contents

Includes Deed, 1 Park Avenue, 1892.

Princeton - North.
Princeton - South.
Strath Haven.
Swarthmore Avenue.
Swarthmore Place.

Illustrated Swarthmore, circa 1895.
Swarthmore, 1896.
The Swarthmore [newspaper], 1/1/1893.
Scope and Contents

Lists residents of borough. Also photocopies of listings in 1897 and 1902 directories.

Swarthmore Directories, 1924, 1925-26, 1936.
Swarthmore Directory, 1949-1950.
Anecdotes and Reminiscences: General.
Correspondence, Lyn Jones on the attribute of the Borough, 1984.
Delaware County Historical Society file on Swarthmore.
"Historical Sketch of Early Swarthmore by One of the Pioneers" by Susanna Gaskill-Mahan, 1980.
Scope and Contents

Originally published in 1924, Swarthmore Directory

"A History of Swarthmore - circa 1880" by Richard Griffin, 1981.
Scope and Contents

Originally a student paper for Swarthmore High School

"The True Age" by Margaret Detweiler, 1993.
"Vignettes of Early Swarthmore" by May Brown Lloyd, 1996.
"A Reminiscence" by Eurdora Sproat Gerner, 1994.
"The Swarthmore Area Before the College," by Regen Foster Bresnahan, 1979.
Scope and Contents

Student paper for American Civics course, University of Pennsylvania, 1979.

"An American Landscape: Swarthmore, Pennsylvania", 1979.
Scope and Contents

Thesis written for M.A. in Urban Studies.

"A Brief History of Swarthmore from about 1680 to 1930.", 1975, 1992.
Scope and Contents

Revised text of David Narbeth's 1975 slide show. Video tape catalogued in Library AV collection. 1992.

"The Borough of Swarthmore.", 1999.
Scope and Contents

Paper written for a course on historical landscape, 1999.

Extracts from the Swarthmore News., 1977.
Scope and Contents

Brief extracts from the Swarthmore News. Abstracted by Nancy Spears.

Chester Times feature on Swarthmore College, 1905.
"The Town I Like, Swarthmore, PA.", March/April, 1951.
Scope and Contents

Article by Jay J. Dugan in Lincoln-Mercury Times.

"Quaker Quandary," Greater Philadelphia Magazine, Feb. 1964.
Come Home to Swarthmore: A Town for All Seasons, n.d.
Directory of Organizations in the Swarthmore Area., September, 1968.
Living in Swarthmore. League of Women Voters., 1962, 1974, 1985, 1993.
Swarthmore Illustrated: A Centennial History, 1993.
Swarthmore College Calendars, 1992, 1994.
Scope and Contents

Issues with illustrations relating to the Borough and its history.

Swarthmore Historic Walking Tour, [2006].

African American Community.
Avondale Bridge.
Bassett, Elizabeth: Family Memorabilia.
Bird Family.
Blacksmith shop on Baltimore Pike and Cedar Lane.
Correspondence (Miscellaneous).
Country Week Picnic.
Related Materials

See also SC 177.

Cresson family and Hedgleigh.
Crum Creek.
Related Materials

See RG6/V/College Reference files

Delaware County Historical Society file on Swarthmore.
Delaware Indians.
Scope and Contents

"History of Delaware Indians" by Lee Sultzman, website
Emmons Pool.
Emmons, Louis Cole.
Scope and Contents

See File: Real Estate Companies: Emmons. See also photographs scanned in 2017 from family's collection, stored in FHL DAMS.

Scope and Contents

See also Cresson family and Swarthmore Horticultural Society files

Garrett Family.
Gillespie, George.
Scope and Contents

See Development Companies, Gillespie

Hill, Grace Livingston.
Box FHL-0347 (offsite)
Maddock Family.
Menke & Menke "In Our Backyard: Swarthmore collected slides".
Scope and Contents

"In Our Backyard: Swarthmore slides in the Menke & Menke collection." Images collected by William Menke from various sources including Irma Zimmer, Cresson family, and John and Dorothy Lawrence. Menke copy slides stored in PA 64.

Nether Providence.
Scope and Contents

Clippings concerning residents.

Ridley Township.
Simons family.
Springfield Township.
Streets, roads, highways.
Thayer, Carroll.
Scope and Contents

See Real estate, Thayer

Water Company.
Related Materials

See also 540 Ogden Avenue survey

Willetts, Alice Putnam, February 6, 1926 – June 6, 2020. Willets, Alice Putnam. Putnam family pictures and papers.
Existence and Location of Copies

Scans are stored in FHL image server [?]

Scope and Contents

Alice "Putty" Putnam Willitts married George Willitts in 1952, and they purchased what had been the pool property on the Emmons estate in Swarthmore, 124 Guernsey Road. The Putnams were from Western Pennsylvania. Putty's grandfather, Leon Elmer Putnan, and wife Harriett Allen came to Swarthmore circa 1890. He operated a dental office in his home at 310 Lafayette Avenue, and daughter and Aunt Iona Grace lived with them. Their son was Allen Putnam, married Gladys Ciani, lived on Maple Avenue. Alice "Putty" Willets was a coach and physical education teacher. She was inducted to the United States Field Hockey Association's Hall of Fame in 1988.

Related Materials

RG7/027 Alice Putnam Willetts Swarthmore Papers

Yale Avenue Bridge.
Zimmer, Irma E. .
Related Materials

Irma E. Zimmer Papers, RG7/014

Scrapbooks: Rosalie Peirsol.
Othertype Oversized box
Scope and Contents

Two scrapbooks compiled by Rosalie Peirsol on career and the death of her husband, Henry A. Peirsol (1912-1974)

Scrapbooks: Edward Brattan, 1922.
Othertype Oversized box
Scope and Contents

Edward Brattan was a student at Swarthmore Preparative School.

Memorabilia: Swarthmore HS letter sweater, Centennial T-shirt, and music, varsity, and Boy Scout letter.
Othertype Relics
Memorabilia: Hand drawn "Monopoly" board and cards, Joy A. Cline for Mrs. Sue Naughton's class in SRS, n.d.
Othertype Relics
Memorabilia: Centennial "Monopoly" game.
Othertype Relics

A-G, 1988.
H-Z, 1988.

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