Ode to the Penn Quaker

Author: Amanda D’Amico

Walkers, Banes, and Kantisses took the world by storm this Halloween. While these costumes — and each corresponding show or movie — represent today’s pop culture, I thought Halloween was the perfect time to highlight a costume that never goes out of style: the Penn Quaker.

Despite widespread belief among students, the Quaker has nothing to do with the University’s founder or its early administration. According to an article in the Daily Pennsylvanian from February 2010, the “Penn Quakers” came into being during the late 19th century.

Sportscasters referred to many teams in Pennsylvania as Quakers—as the Commonwealth was founded by a Quaker, William Penn, and guaranteed Quakers the freedom to practice their religion. Because of the University of Pennsylvania’s outstanding athletic prowess during this time (and into the mid-20th century) the nickname “Quakers” stuck to the University.

So no, Benjamin Franklin was not a Quaker. And no, “the Fighting Quaker” isn’t the mascot’s real name. But despite these common misconceptions and the fact that Penn has no historical ties to the Religious Society of Friends, the Quaker remains an icon on campus —through multiple iterations.

Old Quaker

New Quaker

Read more about the history of the Penn Quaker in the Daily Pennsylvanian or view images of the beloved mascot on the University’s Flickr stream.

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Filed under Amanda D., Athletics, Ben Franklin, Historical

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