Swarthmore College Archives: President's Office

Presidential Papers have restricted access; contact friends@swarthmore.edu to inquire about procedures for gaining access permissions.

To see individual finding aids, please click on the name of the President:

See a timeline of Swarthmore's past presidents

Edward Parrish Papers, 1859-1872

1st President of Swarthmore College, 1864-1871. Edward Parrish (1822-1872) was active on the Committee which sought subscriptions for the founding of a college. Along with teaching, raising money for the fledgling college continued to be one of his most important jobs. Differences in philosophy of discipline and of the mission of the College caused Parrish to resign from the presidency in February 1871. After his resignation, the Board assumed most of the executive powers. Parrish was active in a number of Quaker social concerns, and in 1872 he was appointed to a Commission to negotiate a treaty with the Kiowa and Comanche tribes. While on this mission to Fort Sill in the Indian Territory, he died of malaria at age 51.
Call number: RG6/01

Edward Hicks Magill Papers, 1867-1907

2nd President of Swarthmore College, 1871-1889. Edward Hicks Magill (1825-1907) became the President of the College after the school had been in session for little more than a year. As part of his job description, Magill also served as postmaster of the Swarthmore Post Office. He retired from the presidency in 1889, but continued to teach French at the College until 1900. The collection contains Magill's official and personal correspondence, genealogical material on the Magill family, writings, lecture notes, and speeches. The bulk of the correspondence falls within the period 1880-1890.
Call number: RG6/D03

William Hyde Appleton Papers, 1890-1891

3rd President of Swarthmore College, 1889-1891. William Hyde Appleton (1837-1926) reluctantly became Acting President and briefly President after Edward Magill's retirement. In September 1891, Charles De Garmo was selected to be the fourth President of Swarthmore College, and Appleton quickly returned to teaching. His teaching career spanned from 1872 until 1909, and at various times he taught Greek, German, English, and Literature. This collection consists of four folders of personal and official correspondence.
Call number: RG6/D03

Charles De Garmo Papers, 1891-1898

4th President of Swarthmore College, 1891-1898. Elected President in September 1891, Charles De Garmo (1849-1934) was dedicated to quality education. Discouraged by the lack of support from the Board of Managers, he decided to return to teaching. Resigning in 1898, he became a Professor of Education at Cornell University. The collection contains official correspondence and related documents.
Call number: RG6/D04 98

William W. Birdsall Papers, 1898-1902

5th President of Swarthmore College, 1898-1902. The selection of William W. Birdsall (1854-1909) was an attempt by the Board of Managers to emphasize the Quakerly qualities of the College. While Birdsall succeeded in attracting more attention from the Quaker community, the Board made the decision to to seek a president with stronger academic credentials. After serving the College for only four years, Birdsall became principal of Girls' High School of Philadelphia. The collection contains correspondence, lists of prospective students, class lists of alumni, and miscellaneous material.
Call number: RG6/D05

Joseph Swain Papers, 1891-1921

6th President of Swarthmore College, 1902-1921. With the presidency of Joseph Swain (1857-1927), Swarthmore College began its evolution into a highly regarded academic institution. He immediately set out to strengthen the curriculum and also spent a great deal of time dealing with the issues of extracurricular life. Highly regarded beyond Swarthmore College, he was also active in educational and reform organizations. Swain resigned shortly after the 1920-1921 school year began, leaving to his successor a college that was ranked with the top schools in the nation and holding a significant endowment.
Call number: RG6/D06

Frank Aydelotte Papers, 1905-1956

7th President of Swarthmore College, 1921-1940. While Swarthmore College had made academic gains during the administration of Joseph Swain, it was under Frank Aydelotte (1880-1956) that it became committed to excellence. Aydelotte is best remembered for the innovations he made, including revision of the curriculum and application process and insituting the Honors Program, as well as changes in student life. In October 1939, Aydelotte resigned from the presidency Swarthmore College to become the second director of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he served until his retirement in 1947.
Call number: RG6/D07

John W. Nason Papers, 1927-1965

8th President of Swarthmore College, 1940-1953. John W. Nason (1905-2001) assumed the presidency in June of 1940 at the age of thirty-five. A strong proponent of the Honors Program, he continued the mission of academic excellence established by Aydelotte while adapting the campus to the pressures of world war. In 1952 after twelve years of presidency and twenty-one overall years of teaching at Swarthmore, Nason resigned. He subsequently served as President of the Foreign Policy Association and later as President of Carleton College from 1962-1970.
Call number: RG6/D08

Courtney C. Smith Papers, 1953-1969

9th president of Swarthmore College, 1953-1969. Courtney C. Smith (1916-1969) was named both President of the College and American Secretary of the Rhodes Scholarships in 1953. While a time of great growth and accomplishment, his presidency was marked by increasing tension from anti-war sentiment, pressure to increase the number of African American students, and changing social standards. In June 1968 Smith announced his resignation effective the fall of 1969 in order to head the Markle Foundation. On January 9, 1969, at the age of 52, he died of a heart attack suffered while in his office.
Call number: RG6/D09

Robert D. Cross Papers, 1969-1974

10th President of Swarthmore College, 1969-1971. The College was in a period of turmoil when Robert D. Cross (b. 1924) became president in the fall of 1969. By fall 1970, the campus had somewhat calmed, and Cross was admired for his open style of administration and defense of liberal ideals. He helped modernize the management structure, creating the positions of provost and vice president for development. However, Cross found that he didn't enjoy the pressures of college administration and announced his resignation effective the end 1971.
Call number: RG6/D10

Theodore W. Friend Papers, 1923-1982

11th President of Swarthmore College, 1973-1982. Edward K. Cratsley served as acting president in 1969 and again 1972-1973 until Theodore W. Friend (b. 1931), a Bancroft Prize-winning historian, assumed office. While at Swarthmore, Friend established an Advisory Council on Resource Use and led the faculty in an evaluation of the Honors Program. Working to restore a sense of community at the College, he also increased minority enrollments and sought to address women's concerns. He resigned in June 1982 to write and serve with the Eisenhower Exchange Fellowships, Inc.
Call number: RG6/D11

David W. Fraser papers, 1982-1993

12th President of Swarthmore College, 1982-1991. Trained as a physician with an emphasis on epidemiology, David W. Fraser (b. 1944) is also known as an advocate of liberal arts education, a scholar of public health, and an artist in traditional methods of textile construction. He joined Swarthmore College in 1982 after working at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, and resigned from Swarthmore in 1991 to to head the Social Welfare Department at the Aga Khan Secretariat. This scattered collection, which dates from 1971 to 1993 (bulk 1982-1991), includes records from Fraser's time as President of Swarthmore College, including the construction of the Blue Route (I-476), financial aid, National Association of Independent Colleges & Universities, senior staff retreats, and more.
Call number: RG6/D12

Alfred H. Bloom papers, 1991-circa 2009

13th President of Swarthmore College, 1991-2009. One of Swarthmore's longest-serving presidents, Alfred H. Bloom emphasized the importance of intellectual rigor, diversity, and social responsibility on campus, and is best known for revitalizing the Honors Program and eliminating varsity football. A linguistics scholar, Bloom formerly held faculty positions at Swarthmore College and Pitzer College, and resigned from his Swarthmore Presidency to become Vice Chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi. This small collection consists primarily of memoranda from Al Bloom to the Swarthmore College community, 1991-1998. There is also a transcript of an interview with Bloom for a feature in the Alumni Bulletin (1993), a congratulatory citation from Bloom's inauguration (1992), and several blank cards and invitations from Bloom, circa 1991-2009.
Call number: RG6/D13

Rebecca Chopp papers, 2009-2014

14th President of Swarthmore College, 2009-2014. Rebecca Chopp is a well-known scholar of religion and American culture. While at Swarthmore, she researched changing structures and cultures of higher education, the role of liberal arts in a democratic society, and religion and higher education. She resigned from Swarthmore College in 2014 to become the 18th Chancellor of the University of Denver. This collection includes selected printed e-mail correspondence, speech texts, and other documents from Chopp's time as Swarthmore College President.
Call number: RG6/D14

Valerie Smith

15th President of Swarthmore College, 2015-
Call number: RG6/D15