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Friends Collection and College Archives: About Us

About Us

The Arthur and Kathleen Postle Archives and Friends Collection are named for the late Arthur Postle and his wife, Kathleen, the latter the donor who served the college for many years as a member of the faculty.

The Friends Collection has one of the four or five largest Quaker Collections in the world, with more than 13,000 books and nearly as many pamphlets, some going back to the 17th Century when the Society of Friends was founded. These works are supplemented with an extensive collection of Quaker genealogical materials. Personal diaries, letters, and detailed records of monthly and yearly meetings reveal the lives of thousands of Quaker men and women.

Earlham College Trivia

When was Earlham established?

Quakers founded Friends Boarding School in 1847, and in 1859 changed the name to Earlham College. Earlham was the second Quaker college in the world, after Haverford College in Pennsylvania (1833).

How did the school get its name?

Earlham College is named for Earlham Hall in Norwich, England. Earlham Hall is the ancestral home of the Gurney family. Joseph John Gurney happened to be visiting the Indiana Yearly Meeting in 1837 when the boarding school committee reported on its plans for a new school and contributed $50 to the committee’s fundraising efforts.

What is Earlham’s religious affiliation?

Earlham was founded by the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers. Richmond, Indiana, where Earlham is located, developed as a predominant Quaker settlement in the early 1800s as Friends from North Carolina moved to the Northwest Territory to leave the slave society in the South. The Indiana Yearly Meeting established the Friends Boarding School in 1847, and in 1881 the Western Yearly Meeting joined with it in the management of Earlham College. Currently, Earlham has a covenant with Indiana Yearly Meeting rather than a formal connection.

When did Quakers first come to the Richmond area?

Quakers settled the Upper Whitewater Valley in 1806. They established the Whitewater Monthly meeting in 1809. The Indiana Yearly Meeting was created in 1821. The Western Yearly Meeting formed from 5 Indiana Quarterly Meetings in 1858.

When did Earlham become a co-ed school?

Earlham has been co-ed since its opening in 1847. 

What is the Earlham School of Religion?

The Earlham School of Religion (ESR) is a Quaker theological seminary founded in 1960. It was the world’s first accredited Quaker theological seminary. Three men instrumental in its inception were Earlham president Landrum Bolling, well-known Quaker theologian Elton Trueblood, and ESR’s first dean Wilmer Cooper.

Who were the first graduates of Earlham College?

Luzena Thornburg and J. Addison Clark, 1862.  Thornburg also taught at Earlham from 1857-1859 and 1862-1863.

Who was the first African American student?

Osborn Tyler, 1880. Tyler was a former slave from Arkansas who attended the Friends school Southland College and returned to graduate from there in 1884.

Who was the first African American graduate?

Clarence Cunningham, 1924.  Cunningham never had a roommate while living in the dorms at Earlham.

Who was the first African American professor?

William Cousins, sociologist, 1966

Who was the first Native American student?

Arizona Jackson, 1880

Who is Zitkala-Sa?

Zitkala-Sa was a Native American student who attended Earlham from 1895-1897. She was heckled at a state oratory contest but returned home to a warm reception at Earlham after her second place finish. She later became a well-known writer and champion of Indian rights and culture and founded the National Council of Indian Americans.

Who was Joseph Cosand?

Cosand was a former Earlham student who became the first Quaker missionary to Japan in the 1880s.

Who was the first Japanese student?

Chuzo Kaifu, 1890

Who were the first teachers?

Lewis A. Estes (1847-1855) and Huldah Hoag (1847-1849, 1853-1855); they later married

Who was Earlham’s first foreign-born teacher?

William Haughton of Ireland, 1852

Who was the first non-Quaker professor?

Adolph Gerber, 1886

Who was Earlham’s first Jewish professor?

Harold Hyman, 1952

Who was the first president not born a Quaker?

Landrum Bolling, 1958-1973

What subjects were originally taught at Earlham?

When the Friends Boarding School opened in 1847, there was a small staff and fewer than 100 students. However, according to a circular describing the first session, the school offered Spelling, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography, Ancient and Modern History, Grammar, Rhetoric, Composition, Algebra, Geometry, Mensuration, Surveying, Astronomy, Natural Philosophy, Chemistry, Physiology, Botany, Mineralogy, Natural History, Mental and Moral Philosophy, Evidences of Christianity, and Latin and Greek. Bible studies, political studies, French, and German were soon added, and botany was introduced when the school started offering a Bachelor of Science.

When was the first May Day celebration at Earlham?

May Day was originally a women’s festival and was first celebrated at Earlham in 1875. Spring festivals like May Day became very popular in the 1870s, and Earlham’s adoption of the tradition signaled its move to become a competitive college. Men became part of the festival in 1906. The last Olde English May Day was celebrated in 1993.

When did art and music become part of the curriculum at Earlham?

Art and music instruction was formally allowed in 1890. Before that, Mary E. Pinkham offered a class in drawing (1860), but in the early years Earlham generally held to Quaker opposition to the arts.

When did Earlham start participating in sports?

Although the college supported intramural sports as early as 1847, football became the first intercollegiate sport in 1889.

Why was there a heresy investigation in the early 1920s?

In 1920, a group of Earlham alumni who were primarily ministers of the Indiana Yearly Meeting complained about the college’s modernist critical study of the Bible, especially with regard to evolution. As allowed by the college’s charter, a heresy trial was convened in December of 1920, during which Earlham was vindicated in every question.  Alumnus S. Edgar Nicholson, class of 1865, was instrumental in defending Earlham. Earlham may have been the first college west of the Appalachian Mountains to teach evolution; Joseph Moore had been teaching Darwinian theories since 1864.

What was the first co-ed dorm?

Hoerner Hall was the first dorm to go co-ed in modern times (1970). However, when the Friends Boarding School opened in 1847, all students lived and attended school in Earlham Hall.

What happened to Lindley Hall?

Lindley Hall burned down in 1924. Unfortunately, the building housed the Joseph Moore Museum and several of the specimens were destroyed.

What is the name of Earlham’s yearbook?

Sargasso (1906, 1909-2008). Consecutive annuals began in 1906. Publications resembling yearbooks included Fond Recollections (1891-?), Class of Ninety-Six (1896), and The Earlhamite Annual (1902, 1907-1908). Earlham no longer publishes a yearbook. 

What is the name of Earlham’s newspaper?

The Earlham Word. Journalistic reporting began in the late nineteenth century with The Earlhamite, which became a literary magazine in 1911 with the establishment of The Earlham Press. The exclusive men-only Press Club that developed out of the management of that paper created controversy and led to the dissolution of the paper in 1925. The Quaker Quill was established that year, and that turned into The Earlham Post, which lasted from 1931-1984. The Earlham Word was established in 1986.

What is The Earlhamite?

The Earlhamite was originally started as the school’s newspaper in 1873, then it became the literary magazine from 1911-1914. In 1919 The Earlhamite became the school’s alumni magazine.

 What materials do you have on the Underground Railroad and abolition?

The Archive contains some documents, writings, and correspondence related to abolition. See our subject guide for more information: Quakers and Abolitionism.

Jenny Freed

Jenny Freed's picture
Jenny Freed
Contact:
801 National Road W.
Richmond, IN 47374
765-983-1743

Earlham College • 801 National Road West • Richmond, Indiana 47374-4095