(*) In 1837, Guilford College opened as New Garden Boarding School, an institution intended to serve the children of the Religious Society of Friends living in and around Guilford County, N.C. New Garden Boarding School provided a “guarded” education, one in which children of Friends could be formed in an environment shaped by the Quaker testimonies. The first students at the school used the “thee’s” and “thou’s” of Quaker plain speech, dressed plainly, worshiped in the silence of the Quaker meetinghouse, and were schooled in the simple truths of the Bible and the Quaker community.
|Staff and students, late 1800s. Photo: Guilford College|
As Quaker society changed and the school grew into a less separated and more diverse college, Guilford constantly interpreted and reinterpreted what core Quaker testimonies were important in its life.
Today, it’s rare to find anyone on campus who uses the plain speech, wears the “Quaker gray,” or expresses their religious faith in any recognizable form of 19th century Quaker orthodoxy. Yet, Quaker testimonies remain central to most facets of the school. Five “normative” testimonies— integrity, simplicity, equality, peace and direct and immediate access to God/Truth—have been incorporated into the school’s curriculum. Guilford College’s seven core values, which are community, diversity, equality, excellence, integrity, justice and stewardship, are clearly based on and consistent with these testimonies. (* Courtesy of Guilford College)
Senior Class officers of the 1920s payed homage to the school's Quaker roots by dressing up in old Quaker garb for yearbook pictures.
On the left is the facade of Founders Hall, appearing very much as it did in 1837.
(Photos: Guilford College.)
"The college reflects many of the basic concepts and ideals of its Quaker founders, and as a faith based on first-hand experience, Quakers believe in simplicity, equality of human relations, love for mankind, and the sharing of material and spiritual goods. To Friends, religion is a way of life rather than a doctrine or creed. Freedom to follow the “inner light” is the essence of their faith and it is in this context that instruction and scholarly investigation developed at Guilford. Friends have emphasized coeducation and believe in educating the “whole student” in order to graduate truly educated people capable of independent thought."
(Guilford College, “Statement of Purpose,” ms., p.1)
"Such an education has two goals: to prepare each student to live an intelligently directed and purpose-driven life so that he/she will bring mature understanding and wisdom to all their relationships, and to help them discover and develop their unique interests and abilities so that they can make the maximum contribution to their fellow man."
(Guilford College “Faculty Handbook,” ms. , 1963, p.2)
Quaker students, 1949, at the "Hut" Friends Center.
Photo: Guilford College
On average, 8-10% of students, faculty and staff at Guilford College are Quaker. But, you don't have to be a Quaker to enjoy the coziness of the Hut; you can be any denomination,
or none at all (Guilford's pretty accepting). It's a great place to have a class, sip coffee, study, nap, or just hang out by the fire.
"Quakerism 101." Max Carter, professor of religious studies, director of the Friend's Center and expert on Quakerism, totally breaks down the origins of the faith...in under five minutes.
Here, Max gives a tour of a few landmarks in the Guilford College community. Included near the end is "Arcadia," the spacious, late Victorian-era home of the first president and lady of the College. Located adjacent from the school, Arcadia was a hub of campus activity, hosting dignitaries, speakers, visiting professors, faculty, staff and students for many years. In later years it was a farmhouse, at times boarding a few students as they worked campus jobs to pay tuition. The house is referenced in the last stanza of the "Guilford Campus Song."