So You Think You Know Swarthmore?

Trivia Question: Which of the following statements describes the Swarthmore's first Board of Managers?

1) Only men were permitted to serve.
2) Men and women were permitted to serve.
3) Membership in the Society of Friends was required.
4) Non-Quakers as well as Quakers served on the Board.

What is the correct answer?

A. 2 and 3

In keeping with the Friends' commitment to sexual equality, the first Board of Managers included 16 men and 16 women. Membership in the Society of Friends was required until the early 20th century, although the managers continued to be solely Quakers until 1938.

Trivia Question: Swarthmore has been home to many a cappella groups. Of the groups on campus today, which was the first?

a) Chaverim

b) Cantatrix

c) Essence of Soul

d) Grapevine

e) Mixed Company

f) Oscar and Emily

g) Sixteen Feet

What is the correct answer?

Answer: g) Sixteen Feet. Founded in 1981, Sixteen Feet is Swarthmore's original a cappella singing group and remains its only all-male group. Here's a brief guide to the others:

  • Chaverim is a Tri-College, co-ed a cappella group with members from Swarthmore, Haverford, and Bryn Mawr colleges.
  • Cantatrix is Swarthmore's only early-music a cappella group, performing a range of pieces from medieval to (relatively) modern, both secular and sacred.
  • Essence of Soul is an a cappella group dedicated to students who enjoy arranging, singing, and performing music from the African Diaspora.
  • Grapevine is Swarthmore's only all-female a cappella group and has a mixed repertoire, singing rock, pop, gospel, jazz, and everything in between.
  • Mixed Company is Swarthmore's first co-ed a cappella group on campus.
  • Oscar & Emily is Swarthmore's only all-jazz a cappella group.

NOTE: Several alumni have brought to our attention the fact that a cappella is a proud tradition at Swarthmore and includes the Swarthmore Madrigal Chorus, begun in 1952, and the Swarthmore College Singers, whose roots date back at least as far as the 1970s.

Trivia Question: When was First Collection introduced at Swarthmore?

a) 1864

b) 1869

c) 1972

d) 1994

What is the correct answer?

Answer: (d) First Collection was introduced in 1994 by Andrew Feldman '96, then the student leader of freshman orientation. Although passing of candlelight at First Collection is relatively new, the notion of "Collection" at Swarthmore is not. According to the Friends Historical Library, the Annual Catalog of 1870-1871 mentions a form of assembly at the end of each day for worship, at which readings from Scripture were followed by a period of silence. Over the years, Collection has undergone many changes. Currently, all-campus meetings, still called Collections, are convened to discuss current issues relevant to the College community (adapted from the Swarthmore College Bulletin).

Trivia Question: How many students were in Swarthmore's first graduating class?

a) 207

b) 24

c) 6

d) 83

What is the correct answer?

Answer: c. Swarthmore's first class graduated in 1873 and included five women and one man. Among them was Helen Magill, who later became the first woman in the country to earn a Ph.D. Magill was the daughter of Swarthmore President Edward Hicks Magill.

Trivia Question: Which College president introduced the practice of awarding honorary degrees?

1) Edward Hicks Magill, president from 1871–1889

2) Joseph Swain, 1902–1921

3) Frank Aydelotte, 1921–1940

4) John W. Nason, 1940–1953

What is the correct answer?

Answer: Edward Hicks Magill. As Swarthmore's second president, Magill focused on moving the College further into the mainstream of American collegiate education. He upgraded the quality of the academic courses, phased out the College's preparatory school, and introduced the practice of awarding honorary degrees.

Trivia Question: The works of which famous authors are housed in McCabe Library's Rare Books Room?

1) William Wordsworth

2) W.H. Auden

3) James A. Michener '29

4) John Dos Passos

What are the correct answers?

Answers: William Wordsworth, W.H. Auden, and James A. Michener '29. Visit the Rare Book Room to learn more.

Trivia Question: How Did the College Get Its Name?

What's the correct answer?

Swarthmore College is named for Swarthmoor Hall, a 17th Century Elizabethan manor house near Ulverston, England. Throughout the 1650s, the house served as the center of the early Quaker movement. It was the home of Margaret and Thomas Fell, who allowed Religious Society of Friends founder George Fox and his followers to use it as a meeting place for worship. After her husband’s death, Margaret married Fox and dedicated her life to the Quaker movement.

Why the different spellings? Swarthmore College was chartered at the height of the American spelling reform movement. It seemed logical to plain-speaking American Friends that a word rhyming with “more” should be spelled “m-o-r-e,” regardless of etymology.

Trivia Question: Last weekend, Swarthmore's top-ranked men's soccer team defeated Haverford 2-0 in one of the oldest rivalries in college soccer. How many consecutive wins has the Garnet enjoyed against the Fords?

a) 3

b) 4

c) 7

d) 9

What's the correct answer?

Answer: (c) 7. Saturday's game also gave Swarthmore seniors a perfect 4-0 record against their Haverford rivals.

Trivia Question: Which Swarthmore president's daughter was in the College's first graduating class and later became the first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D.?

a) Edward Hicks Magill

b) William Hyde Appleton

c) Joseph Swain

d) Charles De Garmo

What's the correct answer?

Answer: a) Edward Hicks Magill, whose daughter Helen Magill White earned a Ph.D. from Boston University in Greek in 1877.

Trivia Question: Which 2010 honorary degree recipient sailed under this flag, now housed in the Swarthmore Peace Collection in the McCabe Library?

What's the correct answer?

As a freshman, John Braxton '70, H'10 sailed under this flag on The Phoenix, a Quaker ship that traveled to Vietnam on a civilian aid mission during the war. Watch Braxton discuss the trip during the 2010 Commencement and learn more about the mission from the Swarthmore Peace Collection

Trivia Question: Who won the Leif Erikson Award this year?

a. George Lakey, Lang Visiting Professor of Issues for Social Change from 2007-2009, for his report on "Norway and the Current Financial Crisis"

b. Dirk Schoonmaker '80, volunteer with the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue, for his passion for skiing and commitment to saving lives

c. Howard A. Schneiderman Professor of Biology Scott Gilbert, who received a three-year grant for research in Finland

d. Prune Beach Cruises for its skillful navigation of the Crum

What's the correct answer?

Answer: d. The Leif Erikson Award is given to the winners of the Crum Creek Regatta. Other prizes for this event include the Christopher Columbus Award for second place, the Crum Crik Cruiser Award for best-engineered boat, the Queen Elizabeth Award for the most artistic vessel, and a special Captain’s Prize for last place.

Learn more about Dirk Schoonmaker '80, volunteer with the Tahoe Nordic Search and Rescue in the April 2010 Bulletin.

The College’s commitment to sustainable living extends beyond its green building practices and campus sustainability initiatives to training the next generation of environmentally conscious leaders in and outside of the classroom. The Interdisciplinary Program in Environmental Studies offers students an opportunity to explore environmental issues across a range of departments.

Trivia Question: Do you know which of the following departments do not offer courses as part of the Environmental Studies Program?

Educational Studies
Modern Languages and Literatures
Sociology and Anthropology

What's the correct answer?

In fact, all of these departments—and more—offer courses that are eligible for Environmental Studies credit. Check out the full list of Environmental Studies courses in specific disciplines and read more about the College’s sustainability efforts.

Matching Game: The appointment of Rebecca Chopp as Swarthmore's 14th president completes a circle that might be said to have begun in 1652 at Swarthmoor Hall in England, when Margaret Fell opened her home—which was later the home of George Fox—as a refuge for early Quakers.

Can you match the following women with their place in Swarthmore history?

  Lucretia Mott

  Martha Ellicott Tyson

  Margaret Hallowell

  Susan Cunningham

  Helen Magill

  Deborah Wharton

  1. This woman devoted her life to the abolition of slavery, women's rights, school and prison reforms, temperance, peace, and religious tolerance. She was a founder of the College, of which she said, "We must never degenerate into a sectarian school...."

2. In 1862, this former clerk of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of Women Friends was a board member of the Friends Educational Association, the forerunner to the College. The association board consisted of 16 men and 16 women, leading to similar equality on the College's board when it was chartered two years later.

3. This anti-slavery advocate, supporter of women's rights, and elder of the Hicksite Quaker Meeting of Baltimore, hosted a meeting at her home in Baltimore to propose a new college. A committee of 12 was appointed to carry out the work—six women, six men.

4. This former clerk of Baltimore Yearly Meeting of Women Friends and elder in the Sandy Spring Monthly Meeting proposed that the new college be named Swarthmore after the home of Margaret Fell.

5. In 1877, this member of the first graduating class of Swarthmore College (1873)—and daughter of Swarthmore's second president—became the first woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D.

6. When the College opened for instruction in 1869, this mathematician and astronomer was one of seven women on the 12-member faculty. Her home and observatory on College Avenue is now the headquarters of the Scott Arboretum.

What's the correct answer?

(1)   Lucretia Mott

(3)   Martha Ellicott Tyson

(4)   Margaret Hallowell

(6)   Susan Cunningham

(5)   Helen Magill

(2)   Deborah Wharton

Thanks to Christopher Densmore, curator of the Friends Historical Library, for all these facts.

Trivia Question: How many alums teach on campus?

What's the correct answer?

Keith Reeves During the 2008-09 academic year, 21 alums taught in 12 departments. Political science and dance tied for the most, with three each, including Keith Reeves '88 (left). This does not include the equal number of alums who worked on campus in various, no doubt also educational, capacities.

Trivia Question: When Caitlin Mullarkey '09 won Swarthmore's 30th Rhodes Scholarship this year, we took a look at the College archives to find the very first Swarthmore Rhodes Scholar. Can you guess who it was?

a. Frank Aydelotte, Class of 1903, later president of the College

b. Mary Wilson Ridpath, Class of 1919, the first woman elected senior class president

c. Alan Valentine, Class of 1921, athlete and political science major

d. J. Roland Pennock, Class of 1927, later a distinguished professor

What's the correct answer?

Alan Valentine The answer is "c." Valentine (1901-1980) was a political science major and, like Mullarkey, a three-sport athlete at the College, earning varsity letters in football, basketball, and lacrosse. According to the Friends Historical Library, Valentine, who married the great-granddaughter of William Lloyd Garrison, had strong Quaker ties. He held master's degrees from Oxford, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale and became president of the University of Rochester in 1935, serving until 1950. Swarthmore awarded him an honorary Doctor of Laws in 1937.

Note: Although Frank Aydelotte was a Rhodes Scholar, he did not graduate from Swarthmore. We made that part up.

Trivia Question: What 1870 Pennsylvania law legalized a revolutionary practice at the College?

For six years following its founding, Swarthmore College operated outside the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. What was the College doing that broke the law? How was the College breaking the law?

a. Swarthmore was housing horses and students in the same building.

b. Half the members of the College's Board of Managers were women.

c. Members of the botany faculty were teaching Darwin's theory of evolution.

d. President Edward Magill did not have a license to teach medicine.

What's the correct answer?

Lucretia Mott The answer is "b." In 1870, it was discovered that, under Pennsylvania law, women could not serve as trustees or directors of a corporation. Chris Densmore, curator of Friends Historical Library, explains that Swarthmore's founders - among them women's rights pioneer Lucretia Mott - believed in equality for women. The College was founded as a co-educational institution, with both male and female professors, at a time when educating the sexes together (not to mention educating women at the college level) was still a novel idea to most Americans. Educating women was not illegal, but apparently, allowing them to serve on the Board of Managers - which at Swarthmore was equally divided between men and women - was.

When the problem was discovered, a request to Harrisburg resulted in a revision to the Charter of Swarthmore College explicitly allowing women to be members of the Board. The catch: The legislation applied only to Swarthmore College.