New book captures 175 years of Earlham College in pictures

This 1896 image shows the library when it was in Lindley Hall.

The first comprehensive pictorial history of Earlham College is now available just in time to celebrate the College’s 175th anniversary.

Curated by Earlham archivists Tom Hamm and Jenny Freed, Earlham College: The Campus History Series (Arcadia Publishing, 2020) features 219 images over 128 pages. It is available from major retailers and the Earlham campus store.

Jenny Freed
Tom Hamm

The book is organized into chapters chronicling the College’s beginning, the physical campus, campus life, leadership, faculty, off-campus programs, athletics and Earlham in the larger world.

“Earlham has a very rich history and photography collection,” said Freed, Earlham’s director of special collections and archives. “We could only include so many, so we tried to make sure there was something for everybody. We had to find a balance.”

“In our initial identification of pictures we’d like to include in the book, we came up with about twice as much as we could include,” added Hamm, a professor of history and the College’s Quaker scholar-in-residence. “I think it’s safe to say we spent almost as much time deciding what not to include as what to include.”

Hamm said the first half of the College’s history was largely captured by students and faculty, especially after the advent of the brownie camera by Eastman Kodak in 1900.

“After 1900, there was just an explosion of students taking photographs, a lot of which ended up in scrap books,” Hamm said. “We are fortunate that a lot of alumni or families of our alumni have sent those to us over the years.

“Since the 1940s, the college has had a staff photographer,” he said. “The officially generated number of photos increased substantially after that.”

When the City of Richmond extended streetcar service west of the Whitewater River in 1895, Earlham became a stop.

Earlham, one of the nation’s Top 100 national liberal arts colleges, was originally established as a Quaker boarding school by the Religious Society of Friends on June 7, 1847. In 1859, a collegiate department was added and the school became Earlham College, named in honor of the home of the eminent English Quaker minister Joseph John Gurney, who had been an early supporter. At the time, Earlham was the second Quaker college in the world, and the first coeducational one.

The pictorial history is the third book chronicling Earlham’s growth and distinction in higher education. Hamm is the author of Earlham College: A History 1847-1997 (Indiana University Press, 1997). Fourteen years earlier, the College published Earlham: The story of the College 1847-1962, which was written by historian Opal Thornburg.

Earlham continues its 175th celebration with a virtual lecture and conversation by author and philosopher Cornel West on Friday, Feb. 4.  The first in-person anniversary event is WinterFest, on Friday, Feb. 11. The inauguration of Earlham President Anne Houtman is scheduled for October in conjunction with the College’s homecoming and reunion weekend.

For more information on Earlham’s milestone year, visit

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Phone: 765.983.1256

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.