How to Research a Person in the College Archives

Alice Paul (Class of 1905) was a noted suffragist and the author of the original Equal Rights Amendment text in 1923, who fought ardently for women's rights.

Would you like to research a former Swarthmore student, faculty, staff member, or other affiliate of the college? Here are some tips.

First steps to find anyone:

Getting started searching for alumni:

  • There are individual files on most alumni in collection RG6/R002, created by the alumni office and added to over time by Friends Historical Library. These files typically contain basic information about the student (occupation, residence, etc.), newspaper clippings and obituaries, correspondence with the alumni office (usually about donations), and sometimes other material. Files are restricted until the decease of the alum. You may email archives@swarthmore.edu to inquire if a file exists for the person you are interested in.
  • Collection RG6/R004, Class Records, contains materials pertinent to each class. Alumni updates, particularly as part of a reunion yearbook, are sometimes present. This collection is available to on-site researchers. 
  • Some student theses are available digitally. Some additional ones aren't digitized but are stored in the library and listed in the library catalog.
  • Try a keyword search of the digitized student publications.
  • Access to student transcripts is granted via the Registrar's Office (per federal FERPA regulations).

Getting started searching for past faculty and staff:

  • There are individual files on some past faculty and staff members in collection RG6/L9, containing newspaper clippings, obituaries, often a CV, and similar materials. Files are restricted until the decease of the faculty or staff member. You may email archives@swarthmore.edu to inquire if a file exists for the person you are interested in.

  • Swarthmore College Presidents often kept files on individual faculty members, including correspondence with them and CVs. Check which presidents were in office while your faculty member was at the college, and then check inventories of the presidents' papers (RG6/D) to see if they kept files on your faculty member. Files are restricted until the decease of the faculty member.
  • Check the index to photographs of faculty and staff members (SPA/207)
  • Search the digitized annual course catalogs. Depending on the time period, you may learn from this what years the person was employed, in what capacity, what classes they taught, and their educational background.

Further steps: