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Friends Historical Library

Department Overview

The library is closed to the public until further notice.  Please see COVID-19 information at the link above.  During this period of closure, our staff will work to provide digital scans of our materials insofar as we are able.  You may email requests to

Friends Historical Library was established in 1871 to collect, preserve, and make available archival, manuscript, printed, and visual records concerning the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from their origins in the mid-seventeenth century to the present. Friends Historical Library is one of the outstanding research facilities for the study of Quaker history

Besides the obvious focus on Quaker history, the holdings are a significant research collection for the regional and local history of the middle-Atlantic region of the United States and the history of American social reform. Quakers played prominent roles in almost every major reform movement in American history, including abolition, African-American history, Indian rights, women's rights, prison reform, humane treatment of the mentally ill, and temperance. The collections also reflect the significant role Friends played in the development of science, technology, education, and business in Britain and America.  

The Library also maintains the Swarthmore College Archives and the collections of the Swarthmore Historical Society.