Benjamin West's "Penn's Treaty with the Indians"
In 1871, Ansom Lapham donated 150 volumes of Quaker books for a library "exclusively for matters pertaining to Friends." Originally located in Parrish Hall and named the Ansom Lapham Repository, it later became known as the Friends Historical Library.
Included in its collection is a print of Benjamin West's "Penn's Treaty with the Indians" that had been presented to the college in 1872. Although the Parrish fire of 1881 reduced the building to its stone walls, the library's books and artifacts, including the West print, were stored in a fireproof vault and survived.
Likely destroyed in the fire was another copy of West's "Penn's Treaty" that was given to the college in 1871. In accepting this picture for the college, President Edward Magill said:
"It is especially fitting that we, the members of the Religious Society of Friends, the consistent advocates of the principles of peace and non-resistance upon which this colony was first established by its illustrious founder, should ever cherish in memory the impressive scene represented by the picture before us... May those who are entrusted with the management of this institution, now and hereafter, see to it that its noble lesson is duly taught and forcibly impressed by seasonable words, and the more significant language of example."[In 1874, the college purchased a neighboring farm, making Benjamin West's reported birthplace part of the campus. Restored the next year, the "Benjamin West House" was designated a national historic landmark in 1966 and now houses the college's visitor information center.]
Since its founding, the Friends Historical Library (FHL) has collected material pertaining to Quaker history dating from the mid-17th century beginnings of the Religious Society of Friends in England to the present. FHL serves as the official repository for the records of Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore Yearly Meetings and their constituent meetings, as well as Quaker organizations, including Friends General Conference, Pendle Hill, and the Friends World Committee on Consultation.
With more than 42,000 books, pamphlets, and serials, 290 major manuscript collections, and 9,000 volumes of original meeting records, FHL is a major research library not only for Quaker history, but for its rich documentary sources on the anti-slavery movement, Quaker interactions with Native Americans, women, peace, and American life and culture. The library also maintains the Swarthmore College archives.