Friends Historical Library

Collections Policy

Friends Historical Library (hereafter referred to as FHL) was established in 1871, two years after Swarthmore College began admitting students. It is a research library of Swarthmore College, reporting to the Provost, and administratively tied to the Swarthmore College Peace Collection as the Department of Friends Historical Library. Historically FHL was supported by a separate endowment which is now under the authority of Swarthmore College.

It is the policy of the Friends Historical Library to acquire such records as may comprehensively document the history of the Religious Society of Friends from the 17th century to the present. This includes materials by and about members of the Society of Friends as well as its characteristic testimonies viz. human rights, peace, and simplicity. Archives and manuscripts include the official minutes of Quaker meetings, records of Quaker organizations, and Quaker family papers.

Within this more general scope, the collection reflects a number of priorities:

            Mid-Atlantic region

            Hicksite and Wilburite (Conservative) Quakers, Progressive Friends

            English language materials

The collections of Friends Historical Library also include Quaker books, serials, tracts and broadsides, photographs and images of Friends and Friends’ meeting houses, and other textual, non-textural, and graphic records. The collections contain rich documentation of Quaker social history, women’s studies, Native American history, the anti-slavery movement, social service, and the peace movement because these represent historic concerns of the Society of Friends.

FHL will also supplement its holdings with digital resources that are either not available in the Library or provide access to originals that are otherwise rare and fragile.

The repository does not normally seek to acquire materials in fields which fall outside its collections policy. The Library tries to reflect as objectively as possible all aspects of the Society of Friends' past and present. The repository seeks to acquire new records by gift or, in the case of meeting records, by deposit. Purchases will be made only of documents of outstanding importance. Because of the unique structure of the society of Friends, the Library will accept official meeting records on deposit, with a signed agreement including the provision that official meeting records may be withdrawn only with a minutes from the depositing body or its successor. Loans are not normally accepted. Friends Historical Library does not seek to compete with other designated Yearly Meeting depositories. FHL does not wish to split collections that are related by provenance.