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How well do you know your alma mater? Give this the ol’ College try!

1. What inspired the name of the College’s student newspaper, The Phoenix?

2. For what song did Vaneese Thomas ’74, H’14 acquire a U.S. Billboard R&B top 10 hit?

3. Where did the name “Swarthmore” originate?

4. Which Garnet athletic team was the first to become coed?

5. In 1881, who became the first recipient of an honorary degree from Swarthmore?

Answer Key

1. “The Great Fire,” which destroyed Parrish Hall—the only building on campus at the time—late in the night of Sept. 25, 1881. Happily, the College literally rose from the ashes. The first Phoenix was printed in 1882 at the press of the Media Record, as were volumes II and III.

2. “Let’s Talk It Over.” That song and “(I Wanna Get) Close to You” were the two biggest hits from her 1987 self-titled debut. One of the founders of the Swarthmore College Gospel Choir, Thomas has since released five more albums and has sung backup on countless recordings by other musical legends.

3. England’s Swarthmoor Hall, the home of Thomas and Margaret Fell in the mid-17th century. After meeting Religious Society of Friends founder George Fox, Margaret was so impressed with his teachings that she took George under her wing and became a major leader in the faith herself. After Thomas’s death, she and George later married, with Margaret earning the sobriquet of “the mother of Quakerism.” To this day, Swarthmoor Hall remains a Quaker retreat house.

4. Swarthmore College’s ping-pong team. In his March 1, 1955, Phoenix piece, “They Said It Couldn’t Happen: Ping Pong Team Cops First Win,” Tex Wyndham ’58 wrote that “Miss Jojo Black [Pesaresi ’55], in addition to providing inspiration for the team, also played some exhibition games with some of the members of the Drexel J.V.’s. This points the way for the football and wrestling teams to follow the progressive example set by the ping-pong team in making good use of the female talent of the College.”

5. Susan J. Cunningham H’1881, the College’s inaugural professor of math and astronomy (1869–1906). She built, equipped, and lived in the College’s first astronomical observatory. It became College property upon her death, was later converted to offices, and is now as the Cunningham House of the Scott Arboretum.