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 Association.
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 Hall.
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 dances.
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 English Department.
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 “Intercollegiate Association 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.
The present 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.
Haverford’s first 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.
The 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 fixture.
Rufus M. Jones (class of 1885) was born in 1863 in South China, Maine. Rufus entered Haverford on a full scholarship in the fall of 1882 as a sophomore. While at Haverford, he took advantage of everything offered to him.
In addition to holding many leadership positions at Haverford, he had almost enough credits to graduate by the end of his junior year. Rufus did work for a Master’s degree in History during his senior year, even though he was majoring in Philosophy. After graduation, Rufus taught at Oakwood Seminary in New York State, where he met his first wife, Sarah Coutant. He accepted a position at Haverford in 1893, as a parttime philosophy professor. During his 41 years as professor, Jones wrote over 50 books on topics such as philosophy, mysticism, religion and history. Rufus married Elizabeth B. Cadbury in 1902, three years after Sarah died. In 1917, he helped found the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), a group committed to peace through nonpolitical service. As well as being a beloved professor and scholar, Jones served for 50 years on the Bryn Mawr College Board of Trustees and was one of the founders of the Quaker Five Years Meeting in 1902. During his lifetime, he gave Haverford College his personal collection of nearly 1000 books on mysticism and left a fund to care for this collection. It now includes 1400 books from the Renaissance period to the present. Rufus Jones died on the Haverford campus in 1949.
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 (Quaker) tradition.”
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 teams.
- 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 about 1000 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.
Before he was a famous artist, Maxfield Parrish was a Haverford College student. He matriculated at the college in 1888, but dropped out in 1891 in order to pursue a life in art. While at Haverford, Maxfield (known then as Frederick) studied architecture in the “Classical Section” of study. Maxfield’s amazing artwork did make a large impression while he was still at Haverford. His room in Barclay Hall gained campuswide fame for its elaborate wall decorations executed in chalk and crayon. His physics and chemistry notebooks were also known for their incredible illustrations. Among his other artistic creations while at Haverford were place cards, program covers and college publication illustrations. After Haverford, Maxfield produced murals, posters and advertisements for products such as Jell-O and Hires Root Beer, and illustrations for books and magazines. Maxfield Parrish was born in Philadelphia to well-to-do Quaker parents in 1870, and was greatly influenced by artwork he saw on trips with his family to Italy and other western European countries. In 1897, Parrish was inducted into the Society of American Artists, and by 1925, he was considered by some to be one of the three best artists of all time.
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.
Katharine Hepburn (Class of 1928), remembers her Bryn Mawr days in her autobiography, Me: Stories of My Life (Alfred A. Knopf, 1991). She furthered a Connecticut family tradition: her mother, also named Katharine Houghton Hepburn, was a Bryn Mawr graduate…and so were her mother’s sisters. Before college, her aunts also attended the Baldwin school next door.
“My first year, I lived in a suite in Pembroke West…room and bedroom, ground floor, first door on the right. Having not been in school for several years, I really was not at home or at ease with a lot of strange girls. I used to go to bed early. Then I’d get up at four thirty and go down the hall to the bathroom and have solitude in the hot and cold showers in the john. I used to eat fruit and cereal and milk for breakfast, so I could have that alone in my room, and avoid too many girls. I certainly did not consider myself beautiful.
I was just painfully self-conscious. My second year, I’d gotten used to all the girls and I supposed they got used to me. I belonged to a particular group. Easier to function with protection of a few others. These have more or less remained my friends, especially the ones living in New York and Connecticut.
My last three years at Bryn Mawr were nowhere near traumatic. I wasn’t a member of any club but I acted in several plays, which was fun…and fooled around with my pals and laughed a lot. In my last year I played Pandora in The Woman in the Moon. This was part of a big May Day production.”
Through a friend who lived next door to the campus, Hepburn met a wealthy young man from Strafford named Ludlow Ogden Smith. He courted Katherine and they were married after her graduation in 1928. Hepburn has remained a devoted Bryn Mawr alumna, making return campus visits over the decades.
“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.
Marianne Moore (Class of 1909), born in 1887, grew up in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. She never knew her father; her tight family was dominated by a mother who, early on, instilled high ideals and diligent work habits in her. Family friends had gone to Bryn Mawr and this stimulated the Moores’ interest. Soon this spirited young woman was surrounded by a circle of affluent friends with a broad range of interests. Marianne kept up a lively correspondence with her mother, revealing her unhappy and homesick freshman year. Mrs. Moore constantly implored her to persevere through discipline and self-control.
- Marianne enjoyed shopping in Philadelphia. She sent home sketches of dresses she couldn’t afford; whereupon mother sewed a wardrobe that matched Marianne’s classmates. It was on a Philadelphia trip that she first saw a black tricorn that eventually became her trademark. Moore now had a circle of interesting friends who now enjoyed parties, plays, concerts, pageants, lectures and sports activities. Marianne ignored a teacher’s advice not to become an English major in her sophmore year and began submitting stories to Bryn Mawr’s literary magazine, Tipyn O’Bob (Welsh, meaning “a little bit of everyone”). In the next years she submitted both fiction and poetry.
- Moore read widely; admired the advanced social attitudes of G. B. Shaw, the feminist themes of Ibsen, the suffragist beliefs of Jane Addams. Now acclimated to Bryn Mawr life, she began her lifelong devotion to both social awareness and artistic excellence.
- Long before her death in 1972, Marianne Moore ranked with Emily Dickinson among America’s finest women poets. As editor of The Dial magazine (1925 to 1929) she played an important part in encouraging young writers and publishing their work. Her Collected Poems won the 1952 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.
[Adapted from Marianne Moore: A Literary Life, Charles Molesworth, Atheneum, New York, 1990]
“In 1960, architect Louis I. Kahn and Bryn Mawr College president, Katharine McBride, came together in a mutually inspiring relationship as architect/client to create one of this century’s great buildings, the Erdman Hall dormitory. It was my privilege as a young intern in Kahn’s studio to witness and be involved in the process.
- Creation is often a patient search. For over a year, Kahn and his assistants had been struggling to translate the college’s design program of 130 student rooms and public spaces into a scheme. As in earlier works, he let geometry be the organizer…but could not find a comprehensive form. When he finally freed himself from the rigid dictates of geometry, and played with geometry, the final design emerged.
- The building became three square buildings, connected at their corners. The outer walls being formed of an interlocking of student rooms around three inner public spaces: the entry hall, dining hall and living hall. These spaces receive light from towering light monitors. And the building fits into the sloping site.
- With skillful modeling of materials (concrete, slate, wood, copper, lead) and sensitive scaling of elements, Kahn produced a building which is at once in harmony with the campus tradition and yet a bold statement of its time. It soon achieved international acclaim and remains today one of the great creations of its architect.”
Edward Davis Lewis
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 interim place.”
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.