While his first physical appearance on campus is relatively recent, Phineas the Phoenix has been with Swarthmore nearly since the days of its founding. It is rumored that the Phoenix was somehow involved with both the 1881 burning and the 1882 rebuilding of Parrish Hall from the ashes, as those events mirrored the spontaneous firey death and rebirth of the mythical bird. Nobody knows for sure if the Phineas himself started the fire, but it is commonly agreed that that is when the Phoenix began its association with the College. The student newspaper named itself after the Phoenix at that time.
The Phoenix finally revealed itself to the public in corporeal form over a century later, on March 29, 2008, after it was agreed that it would become Swarthmore's official mascot. The process of choosing a mascot started with the Student Athlete Advisory Committee during the 2005-2006 school year and was championed throughout by Kyle White '08. Students chose between the Phoenix, a manticore, a griffin, and a gorilla - but the Phoenix never doubted that it would be selected!
Nameless at first, the Phoenix was dubbed "Phineas" after students conducted a naming contest.