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In the late 1820s, a few Orthodox Quakers decided "to take into
consideration the propriety of establishing a central school for the
instruction of the children of Friends in the advance branches of
learning," because many Quaker children were attending non-Quaker
colleges such as Yale and Brown. They felt that their school should
"turn out well instructed, serious, reflecting and useful men."
Haverford College, founded 1833, was known for many years as The
Haverford School, since the minimum age of entry for students was 12
years old. Although many Friends around the Northeast gave money for
the original funding of the school (in the first month of fundraising
$43,500 was raised), Haverford was in severe financial trouble by the
1840s, and in 1846, the school was forced to close. However,
Haverford’s loyal alumni raised more than $70,000 to reopen their
beloved school, and in 1848, Haverford reopened to admit non-Quaker
students. Haverford became a college in 1856, when the Legislature
granted it a charter to award degrees.
A plaque commemorates
the 16 incorporators of the Haverford School Asssociation.
Founders Hall, the first
building built for the
Haverford School, was completed in 1833. Students and faculty lived,
ate and held classes there until 1877. Although the inside of Founders
Hall has changed, (it now contains administrative and academic
offices), the outside has remained architecturally simple, and had only
two additions: Gest Hall in 1853, and Founders Great Hall in 1905. John
Sartain’s engraving of Founders Hall shows how the building and
grounds looked in 1845.
The original plan of Founders
The stylized logo which is found on
recent Haverford materials.
Until 1882, the Haverford
College Dining Hall was
in the basement of Founders Hall. It was moved to the first floor;
then in 1907 it was moved once again, this time to the newly completed
Great Hall, a large room in the back of Founders Hall. While it was
utilized as a dining hall, it had "portraits of honored worthies of the
past on the walls," which are now in the Sharpless Gallery in the
Magill Library. Founders Great Hall was used for dining until 1969,
when the current Dining Center was built.
The Great Hall is
still used for a wide range of events, including banquets, concerts and
The photograph is of
the Haverford College community
in 1898. In January 1897, the freshman class asked President Isaac
Sharpless, seated 9th from the right in the 2nd row, for the chance to
have an honor system. Sharpless obtained the faculty’s agreement
to allow "honor examinations" ...exams without proctors. Although the
class of 1901 voted against the Honor System, the class of 1902 chose
to implement it again, and since 1898, every incoming class has had
the Honor System. It is an integral part of life at Haverford, and
every year at Spring Plenary, the student body decides whether or not
to retain the Code for the next academic year. At first, the Honor
System only covered midterms and finals, but it was eventually expanded
to include all aspects of academic and social life; relationships
between members of the community are based on a foundation of mutual
respect and concern for each other. The Honor Code continues to bring
the Quaker values of honesty and respect to Haverford.
Before any Haverford School
buildings were constructed, 1 Woodside Cottage was a farmhouse on the land. It
was named Chase Cottage in 1860 when
President Chase moved into it, but was later renamed Woodside Cottage.
After housing other presidents and faculty, Woodside now houses the
The class printed invitations and dressed in wild costumes such
as those donned by the class of 1888.
John Collins’ 1833
drawing of a student
room in Founders Hall illustrates how easy it was for
"some of the larger boys...[to] readily reach to the other side [of
their rooms] with outstretched arms."
In 1877, Barclay Hall was built to allow for expansion of the College. The Victorian Gothic
dorm was designed by Quaker architect, Addison Hutton. A fire claimed
the dorm’s tower in 1946. Although most of the bedrooms in Barclay
were miniscule, they had studies attached to them.
Soccer has long
been a favorite sport at Haverford. In 1905, Haverford defeated Harvard
in the "first modern intercollegiate match," and organized the
Football League of Columbia, Cornell, Harvard, Haverford and Penn."
Haverford has won many league and division titles, and has had
All-American recognized players.
Though the Society of Friends had
meetinghouses in Merion, Haverford (near Oakmont), and Radnor (at
Ithan), a local group of seventy Friends began to meet (in 1827) at a
tenant house on the farm of Samuel Garrigues. But that soon proved to
be too small after the 1833 opening of Haverford College.
house on Buck Lane was built in 1834 at a total
cost of $2,200 for the land and the building. The meetinghouse was
enlarged in 1894. Haverford faculty and students members have been
meeting there since then.
Between the 1860s and 1887, the
sophomore class burned their least favorite course book at the end of
the year in a ceremony referred to as Cremation. At first,
Paley’s "Evidences of Christianity" was chosen, but it was
difficult to defend a Quaker College burning,
"the book which was supposed to safeguard the faith"; so math books
written by Wheeler and Wentworth became the preferred choice. Although
Cremation originally took place in the woods behind the gym, it became
so popular that it was eventually performed in front of Barclay.
observatory was built in 1834. In June 1852, plans for the current
observatory were begun. By 1854, the observatory was fitted with its equatorial
telescope, transit instrument and Bond’s magnetic register.
Duck Pond has long been used for ice skating by
Haverford students, and in the 1950s it was also used for punishing
"naughty" freshman...they were thrown into it, fully clothed. The pond
was apparently only a winter novelty (it was a pasture in the summer)
until the 1930s when a student created plans to make it a permanent
Haverford College Victorian Faculty House.
There is a wide range of
architectural styles. on campus The Victorian houses were
built in the 1880s for faculty.
The Fine Arts building, built
in 1987 is one of the more modern looking buildings on campus.
Quaker affiliated architects Cope, Lippincott and Slifer designed the
building with large windows so that as much indirect light could get
into the studios as possible.
During World War II, women came
to Haverford to train for American
Friends Service Committe reconstruction projects. They also took
classes and lived on campus during the year.
Their presence re-opened the discussion over coeducation. David Long
(class of 1948) stated, "at the heart of Quakerism is equality, both of
race and sex...Haverford is assuredly out of line with the essence of
During the McCarthy era (the
1950s), Haverford’s first black professor, sociologist Dr. Ira de
A. Reid, was accused of being a communist and his passport was
revoked. However, the college stood by him during
the months it took to clear his name.
- Although first year women were not admitted to Haverford
until 1980, there were women on campus before then. In the early 20th
century, women were graduate students at Haverford’s T. Wistar
Brown Graduate School. In 1918, Eleanor May Gifford was the first of a
few Haverford women to receive her MA.
- In 1864, the college hosted and won the first
intercollegiate cricket match in America against the University of
Pennsylvania. Haverford has continued to be one of the few
undergraduate institutions that is "regularly instructing Americans in
cricket." Until the 1970s, the college also had a football team, and
games against rival Swarthmore College brought community spirit to an
extremely high level.In the early 1930s, women’s sports were
joint with Bryn Mawr College.Today, Haverford has its own women’s
- At the turn of the century, Asians were the first
minority students to be admitted to Haverford. In 1907 and 1926, the
first Puerto Rican student and the first black Jamaican student
respectively, graduated. In 1968, the minority population at the college grew, both in the
faculty and the student body. However, Haverford has striven to
"institutionalize its commitment to diversity."
Serendipity Day Camp was born in the 1960s
out of some young Ardmore men’s desire for a good relationship
between the college and the community. Staffed by Haverford College
students and community members, Serendipity is run by 8th Dimension,
Haverford’s Community Service organization. It is a camp for
children between the ages of 6 and 13, and has
racially and economically diverse campers from surrounding areas as
well as from Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Haverford’s first seven
library books, including Sewell’s History of the Quakers
and George Fox’s Journal,
were donated in 1833.
Later, these books, along with
others, were moved from Founders Hall to the new Alumni Hall, the
original wing of Magill Library. They are now located in the
Quaker and Special Collections.
All rare books were removed
from the regular stacks to the Quaker Alcove when it was created in 1942. Quaker and Special
Collections, which is now one of the major Quaker collections in the
world, also contains manuscripts, archives, and graphic materials.
Bryn Mawr College
Bryn Mawr College (1885) was founded upon an endowment from Dr. Joseph Wright Taylor, a Quaker
businessman and physician. Dr. Taylor had observed the frustration of a
daughter of a Baltimore friend who was unable to study at the graduate
level. That young woman, Martha Carey Thomas, enrolled at the
University of Zurich, graduating summa cum laude with a Ph.D. Taylor, a
devoted member of the Society of Friends, died in 1880. He bequeathed
the bulk of his estate to fund an institution "for the advanced
education of females" providing "all the advantages of a College
education which are so freely offered to young men." (Nearby Haverford
College, another Quaker institution, had begun in 1833). Bryn
Mawr’s first president was Dr. James E. Rhoads, also a Quaker
with close ties to Haverford College; the first dean was M. Carey
Thomas. After Dr. Rhoads’ resignation, Ms. Thomas began a
lengthy tenure (1894-1922). It was she who gave Bryn Mawr its special
identity as a college determined to prove that women could
successfully complete a curriculum as rigorous as any offered to men in
the best universities.
Aerial view of the
campus, 1958. The "Collegiate Gothic" buildings
were set along the perimeter of a central green space. The grounds were
planned by Calvert Vaux, then by Frederick Law Olmsted.
Cornelia Otis Skinner
as Queen Elizabeth on May Day 1932.
Taylor Hall, 1884,
designed by Addison Hutton,
featured the high Victorian Gothic style of the times. The original
campus building, it featured an asymmetrical tower, rich silhouetting,
original detailing. Hutton chose monochromatic cut grey stone in
keeping with the college’s heritage, reminiscent of "a certain
style of Quaker lady dress." It now contains some administrative
offices and classrooms.
Wyndham House (c. 1876)
is the oldest house on
campus. Built in 1796 by Quaker widow, Patience Morgan, who added a
handsome stone building to an old farm she inherited. When the family
went into debt, it was sold to Thomas Humphreys (Bryn Mawr was first
called Humphreysville) in the 1800s for $8,682. Thomas Ely became the
owner in 1893. The college purchased it in 1926 for a residence hall.
It now provides guest quarters, office space and a dining facility.
"They carry the distinguished
mark.. the credible vigor, the subtlety of mind, the warmth of spirit,
the aspiration, the fidelity to past and present." - E. B. White
The first class,
1886 photo, and the faculty. M. Carey Thomas was determined to
establish a college for women that blended the best of Smith,Vassar and
Wellesley with the rigorous scholarship standards of Johns Hopkins. She
recruited a young, largely
male, faculty newly trained in German universities.She limited their
teaching time to encourage study and research.Bryn Mawr became the first
women’s college to develop graduate instruction leading to a
doctorate for women.
The annual May Day festival
started in 1900. It
probably grew out of M. Carey Thomas’ love of the theater and the
romance of earlier times. It was an Elizabethan extravaganza featuring
Maypole dances and elaborately costumed plays, all staged as a way to
raise funds. The May Day tradition continues, to the delight of
students, parents and the community. The generosity of an
alumna’s family later led to Goodhart Hall.
Pembroke Hall West (1894). Early domitory designed by Cope & Stewardson.
Rockefeller Hall (1904). Another early domitory designed by Cope & Stewardson.
Goodhart Hall, 1928,
designed by Arthur Meigs, filled the college’s need for an
auditorium. It is embellished with ironwork by Samuel Yellin. It is
named for Marjorie Walter Goodhart of the Bryn Mawr class of 1912.
Emma Bailey studies
in her dorm room at Denbigh Hall, designed by Walter Cope & John
Stewardson in 1891, one of their many buildings on the
campus. Her ornate facilities contrast with Eleanor Donnelly Erdman
Hall, honoring a 1921 graduate,
It was designed by
Louis Kahn in 1965. Kahn’s philosophy stated: "A dormitory should
not express a nostalgia for home. It is not a permanent place, but an
The Thomas Library (1903-1907)
was another project by Cope & Stewardson.
The Great Hall
(formerly the reading room) was a showpiece: cathedral ceiling painted
with geometric Renaissance patterns; tall, lead-paned windows flooding
the space with light. Ms. Thomas’ cremated remains are in the
courtyard cloister. The Great Hall today remains a grand space for
lectures, concerts and other student gatherings.
President M. Carey Thomas.
The Rhys Carpenter Library, named
for Bryn Mawr’s late professor of Classical Archaeology, was
designed by Henry Myerberg and opened in 1997. This astounding space is
attached to the rear of the Thomas Library. The entrance is a four story
atrium...a comfortable, sun-filled place. Names of art and archaeology
faculty are on the main wall, with a frieze of plaster casts from
ancient Halicarnassus. The most inspired plan was to place most stacks,
study areas, lecture halls and seminar rooms underground. With a roof
concealed by grass, this creative design provides an improved and
delightful background for the historic library.
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