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This article is from the Encyclopedia of North Carolina edited by William S. Powell. Copyright © 2006 by the University of North Carolina Press. Used by permission of the publisher. For personal use and not for further distribution. Please submit permission requests for other use directly to the publisher.

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Guilford College

by Alexander R. Stoesen, 2006

Memorial Hall, Guilford College, 1896Guilford College, affiliated with the Society of Friends (Quakers), is the third-oldest coeducational institution in the nation. Located in Greensboro, the school was opened in 1837 by the Quakers as the New Garden Boarding School. Its main building, Founders Hall, was a two-story brick structure that stood in the middle of a vast hardwood forest. Situated in the midst of the state's Quaker population, the school was a station on the Underground Railroad as well as a center of resistance to Confederate conscription during the Civil War. During Reconstruction, the school reorganized with assistance from the Society of Friends and was renamed Guilford College. Degrees were first conferred in 1889 under a charter issued in 1887. The preparatory department was dropped in 1924, and in 1929 the courses were organized into a "core curriculum."

Although Guilford College has changed over the years, it retains its commitment to basic Quaker principles, including pacifism. It is the only Quaker college in the South. The college in the early 2000s had an enrollment of about 1,200 students, offering 40 academic majors and 5 cooperative preprofessional programs. Guilford College maintains a close relationship with the North Carolina Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends (the statewide organization), but ownership and ultimate responsibility is held by a self-perpetuating, 36-member board of trustees. Two-thirds of the board members must be recognized as Quakers by the Yearly Meeting based on the recommendations of local monthly meetings.


Alexander R. Stoesen, Guilford College: On the Strength of 150 Years (1987).

Dorothy Gilbert Thorne, Guilford: A Quaker College (1937).

Additional resources:

Guilford College website:

"Guilford College." N.C. Highway Historical Marker J-35, N.C. Office of Archives & History. (accessed May 16, 2013).

Guilford College Yearbooks:

Image credit:

1896-98. "Memorial Hall, Guilford College." From the 1896-1898 Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina. Online at Image online at Flickr at

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