What is the Cope Evans Project?
In the summer of 2014, three Haverford College students, Cormac Quinn Rada ('17), Brandon Smith ('16), and Andrew Kafker ('17), conducted archival research in the Cope Evans Family Papers for their digital project titled “The Cope Evans Project: A History of Quaker Networks During the Industrial Age.” Exploring the argument and themes of Philip S. Benjamin’s influential work The Philadelphia Quakers in the Industrial Age, 1865-1920 (1978), the students documented the numerous social, cultural, economic, and political changes that the Cope family, a prominent Quaker family in Philadelphia, faced during a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization in America.
According to Benjamin, during this period the development of a national culture that valued individualism, competition in the marketplace and the accumulation of wealth, and progress ran counter to Quaker principles of community, egalitarianism, and simplicity. Quakerism had already undergone a radical transformation in the 1820s which resulted in separations within the Society of Friends. How would Quaker identity and distinctiveness fare in the face of a rising national culture and religious secularization during the Industrial Age? How would Quakers adapt their principles to address the concerns of a rapidly changing city? How would they reconcile their religious principles with their participation in Philadelphia’s growing industries? (Benjamin, vii-ix).
Building on Benjamin’s work, which made a substantial contribution to the study of Quakers in America beyond the eighteenth century, The Cope Evans Project explores the above questions by highlighting select manuscripts and images from Haverford Special Collections to place the Cope and Evans families into this larger narrative. The project also showcases interactive data visualizations, including a family tree, a map representing the network of letters, and a letter bar chart, created by the students using materials from the Cope Evans Family digital collection, including digitized scrapbooks and photographs as well as transcribed letters. Other features include a virtual scrapbook, a time-lapse video, and an interactive timeline. This project serves as an invitation to scholars and researchers to further explore the history of Quakers in nineteenth century Philadelphia.
The Cope Evans Project is supported by Haverford Libraries through the Quaker & Special Collections and Digital Scholarship Departments. This academic project is based on a collection of family papers, The Cope Evans Papers, that was generously donated to the college's Quaker & Special Collections. We look forward to continually expanding the scope of this project in the future.