About this project
In the early 1850s, Martha Tyson and like-minded Friends identified the need for what they believed was imperative for the survival of their faith - a place for the higher education of Quaker children. Along with Benjamin Hallowell, an influential ally, she advocated the creation of such a school in speeches and published columns for the rest of the decade.
Not seeing much progress, Tyson decided the effort needed a larger push. In October, 1860, she and her husband Nathan convened a meeting of a large group of Baltimore Friends in their home. According to their daughter Isabella, the meeting produced an "onward spirit" that was carried to the Baltimore Yearly Meeting a few weeks later. Friends at that meeting shared their enthusiasm for a school and decided to bring the message to similar meetings in Philadelphia and New York. Their conviction: "with a little effort, the necessary funds can be obtained for the establishment of such an institution."
The expectation of quick success was a bit premature - the Civil War being just one obstacle - but Philadelphia and New York signed on to the effort almost immediately. In March, 1861, the committee to establish Swarthmore began its work.
This project is not a comprehensive history of the college. Instead, it is merely and intentionally representative, meant to highlight the consistency and longevity of the college's core tenets - the value of coeducation, intellectual rigor, and social responsibility - as well as the ways in which the people who study and serve here have influenced and continue to shape the institution and society. As with all web-based projects, it remains a perpetual work-in-progress.