Guilford College

Written By Peter Cotell

Founded in 1837 as the New Garden Boarding School by the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers, Guilford College is a private liberal arts college located in Greensboro. The school began using its current name after it became a four-year liberal arts college in 1888. While the school is no longer officially affiliated with the Religious Society of Friends, it still maintains Quaker values and is the only Quaker school in the South. 

Guilford College’s inception occurred when two figures in the local Quaker community, schoolteacher Jeremiah Hubbard and minister Nathan Hunt, proposed the founding of a school to provide Quaker education to the community. Land was purchased in 1831, with the boarding school officially opening in 1837. The school transformed into a college in 1888, though high school classes were still offered until 1927. 

Guilford College is the oldest co-ed college in the American South; it has offered courses for women since its founding as the New Garden Boarding School. Guilford College is also known for its role in abolitionism and its opposition to the Confederacy. The Guilford College Woods, located on the campus, served as a meeting point for escaped slaves, who would then be assisted by Quakers on their journey north to freedom. Protests were also staged against conscription into the Confederate Army.  

The school has about 1,400 students. It offers 39 major programs, 50 minor programs, and 3 graduate programs. Guilford College fields 21 different athletics teams, all known as the Guilford Quakers. Notable alumni include former NBA all-star World B. Free, former U.S. congressman Howard Coble, and screenwriter Tom Abrams. 

The 1896–98 Image of King Hall, Guilford College, is from the Government & Heritage Library of the North Carolina State Library and is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY 2.0.