Curricular Trends, 1864-1950

What follows is a meandering summary of my thesis research, mainly focusing on trends in Swarthmore’s curriculum relating to American topics until 1950, but with stops along the way to look at President Aydelotte's disdain for non-Honors students and an Economics professor

The Swarthmore Folk Festival

Before Worthstock, the LSE, or even Olde Club, there was the Swarthmore Folk Festival. For a few decades, Swarthmore became the center of the folk music world for one spring weekend each year.

Swarthmore College and the Fiction of Jonathan Franzen ’81

In Jonathan Franzen’s 2010 novel Freedom, protagonist Patty Berglund visits her daughter Jessica at her Philadelphia-area liberal arts college on Parents’ Weekend. There are a number of clues that Jessica attends Swarthmore, Franzen’s alma mater. Swarthmore, indeed, plays a prominent role throughout

The Phoenix through the Ages

Our oldest campus newspaper was first published in 1881, rising from the ashes of the Great Fire of Parrish. In its earliest form, the Phoenix was more of a literary journal than a newspaper as we think of it today.

The Zombie Invasion of 1881

It’s not uncommon for Swarthmore students today to make plans for a hypothetical zombie apocalypse. Yet it’s a little-known secret of Swarthmore history that once upon a time, Swarthmore students were actually forced to make these decisions.

Swarthmore at War, Part II

The sudden influx of soldiers on the GI Bill who enrolled in Swarthmore after serving overseas was completely unprecedented in American higher education, and while Swarthmore didn’t suddenly increase enrollment like many schools, the college did change. The war years were turbulent,

Swarthmore at War, Part I

When America broke out of its isolationism in 1941, Swarthmore faced a dilemma: how could a college with a traditionally pacifist Quaker ideology respond? Swarthmore founder Benjamin Hallowell was a conscientious objector in the war of 1812. Should the college encourage

October 30th, 1929- The Day a Cow Entered Parrish

In the wake of Halloween, I think it’s appropriate to celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of the more wonderful pranks ever pulled at Swarthmore: the Cow Episode. On December 4, 1929, the editor of the Phoenix received a letter from the