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Quaker Roots

Students hold candles at First Collection

Keeping with Quaker tradition, first-year students congregate during orientation in the Scott Amphitheater for First Collection.

Swarthmore College exudes innovation, but it knows where it came from. Whether it’s meeting the financial need of all admitted students, exhibiting leadership on environmental sustainability, or cultivating an environment of equality, the College honors its 155-year history and its Quaker roots.

Swarthmore’s Quaker legacy of simple living, social responsibility, and conservation of resources continues to guide this community. The College has made major strides on energy conservation, most recently with its push for carbon pricing, and has committed to diverting more than 80 percent of its waste from a local incinerator—affirming its commitment to both the environment and the local community—by 2022.

Also lifting up the Quaker origins of the College is the Friends Historical Library. Established in 1871, the library collects, preserves, and makes available archival, manuscript, printed, and visual records concerning the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) from their mid-17th century origins to the present. With more than 45,000 books, pamphlets, and serials; 60,000 photographs; 400 major manuscript collections; and 9,000 volumes of original meeting records, Friends Historical Library is one of the outstanding research facilities for the study of Quaker history. It also maintains the Swarthmore College Archives and the papers of the Swarthmore Historical Society.

Swarthmore also makes a point to offer students free and equal access to parties, arts performances, sporting events, guest speakers, and more. This levels the playing field for students of all socioeconomic backgrounds, building a strong feeling of community across campus.