The First 300

Haverford College

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.
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.