Project Description

Initial discussions about a joint digitizing project between the Quaker repositories at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges began in 2007, when both were preparing for the 300th anniversary of the end of the slave trade in North America. Abolition was a cause whose beginnings and sustenance came largely from Quakers in northeastern America and England. The two colleges also began plans to join with the McNeil Center of Early American Studies at University of Pennsylvania to host an international conference on Quakers and Slavery in November 2010. This digitization project is timed to correspond with the conference, which will include material exhibitions by both Quaker repositories, and which is expected to excite interest in the subject of Quaker involvement in antislavery movements.

The materials selected for this project are available for research within the confines of our two Quaker repositories. However, these materials are unique or rare, and as such should receive limited physical handling in order to ensure their longevity. Digitization of these materials supports their long term preservation by reducing the amount they are handled, as well as providing greatly increased access to researchers who are not able to visit. Moreover, within each repository the documents span a range of material types and come from several collections, such that there is no easy way to bring them together physically. This project allows for the virtual reunification of these materials and collections.

The Quakers and Slavery Project is funded by a generous grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS). Visit the Project Funding page for more information.

The Quaker Collections at Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges

Both Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges were founded as Quaker institutions (1833 and 1864, respectively) and have from their beginnings collected primary source materials that document the history and living traditions of the Society of Friends (Quakers). Together, the two institutions serve as the joint repository of the papers of Philadelphia and Baltimore Yearly Meetings and their constituent monthly meetings, and Swarthmore serves the same function for New York Yearly Meeting. The two libraries are the premiere institutions for Quaker materials in the United States, comprising 80,000 printed volumes and 6,100 linear feet of manuscript material.