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Famous Swarthmore College Alumni

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Updated June 14, 2019 15.3k views 307 items

List Rules People on this list must have gone to Swarthmore College and be of some renown.

List of famous alumni from Swarthmore College, with photos when available. Prominent graduates from Swarthmore College include celebrities, politicians, business people, athletes and more. This list of distinguished Swarthmore College alumni is loosely ordered by relevance, so the most recognizable celebrities who attended Swarthmore College are at the top of the list. This directory is not just composed of graduates of this school, as some of the famous people on this list didn't necessarily earn a degree from Swarthmore College.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different graduates, including Sally Ride and Stephen Lang.

This list answers the questions “Which famous people went to Swarthmore College?” and “Which celebrities are Swarthmore College alumni?”
1
Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physicist, Astronaut

Age: Dec. at 61 (1951-2012)

Birthplace: Los Angeles, California, United States of America

Sally Kristen Ride (May 26, 1951 – July 23, 2012) was an American astronaut and physicist. Born in Los Angeles, she joined NASA in 1978 and became the first American woman in space in 1983. Ride ...more

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2
Alice Stokes Paul is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Author

Age: Dec. at 92 (1885-1977)

Birthplace: Mount Laurel Township, New Jersey

Alice Stokes Paul (January 11, 1885 – July 9, 1977) was an American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and one of the main leaders and strategists of the campaign for the ...more

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3
Richard Pillard is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physician

Age: 85

Richard Colestock Pillard (born 11 October 1933) is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. He was the first openly gay psychiatrist in the United States.
4
Christian B. Anfinsen is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Scientist

Age: Dec. at 79 (1916-1995)

Birthplace: Monessen, Pennsylvania

Christian Boehmer Anfinsen Jr. (March 26, 1916 – May 14, 1995) was an American biochemist. He shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stanford Moore and William Howard Stein for work on ...more
5
Howard Martin Temin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Scientist

Age: Dec. at 60 (1934-1994)

Birthplace: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Howard Martin Temin (December 10, 1934 – February 9, 1994) was a US geneticist and virologist. He discovered reverse transcriptase in the 1970s at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, for which ...more
6
Jonathan Franzen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Jonathan Franzen Novelist, Essayist, Writer

Age: 59

Birthplace: Western Springs, Illinois, United States of America

Jonathan Earl Franzen (born August 17, 1959) is an American novelist and essayist. His 2001 novel The Corrections, a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned ...more

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7
David Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physician, Philosopher

Age: Dec. at 60 (1941-2001)

Birthplace: Oberlin, Ohio

David Kellogg Lewis was an American philosopher. Lewis taught briefly at UCLA and then at Princeton from 1970 until his death. He is also closely associated with Australia, whose philosophical ...more
8
Steven Gilborn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Actor, Teacher

Age: Dec. at 73 (1936-2009)

Birthplace: USA, New York, New Rochelle

Steven Neil Gilborn (July 15, 1936 – January 2, 2009) was an American actor and educator. Gilborn was born in New Rochelle, New York. He attended Swarthmore College, where he was awarded a ...more
9
Diane di Prima is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Poet, Writer

Age: 84

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Diane di Prima (born August 6, 1934) is an American poet. She is also an artist, prose writer, memoirist, playwright, social justice activist, fat acceptance activist and teacher. Di Prima has ...more
10
Ben Brantley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Journalist, Writer, Critic

Age: 64

Birthplace: Durham, North Carolina

Benjamin D. Brantley (born October 26, 1954) is an American journalist and the chief theater critic of The New York Times.
11
Beth Littleford is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Comedian, Actor, Presenter

Age: 50

Birthplace: Tennessee, Nashville, USA

Elizabeth Anna Halcyon Littleford (born July 17, 1968) is an American actress, comedian, and television personality. She was one of the original correspondents on The Daily Show on Comedy ...more
12
Helen Magill White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni

Age: Dec. at 91 (1853-1944)

Birthplace: Providence, Rhode Island

Helen Magill White (November 28, 1853 – October 28, 1944) was an American academic and instructor. She holds the distinction as the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.
13
James Hormel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni

Age: 86

Birthplace: Austin, Minnesota

James Catherwood Hormel (born January 1, 1933) is an American philanthropist and a former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg; appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999, Hormel was the ...more
14
Edward C. Prescott is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Professor, Economist

Age: 78

Birthplace: Glens Falls, New York

Edward Christian Prescott (born December 26, 1940) is an American economist. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2004, sharing the award with Finn E. Kydland, "for their ...more
15
Rudy Rucker is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Novelist, Computer scientist, Author

Age: 72

Birthplace: Louisville, Kentucky

Rudolf von Bitter Rucker (; born March 22, 1946) is an American mathematician, computer scientist, science fiction author, and one of the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement. The author ...more
16
Gerard K. O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Journalist, Physicist, Author

Age: Dec. at 65 (1927-1992)

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Gerard Kitchen O'Neill (February 6, 1927 – April 27, 1992) was an American physicist and space activist. As a faculty member of Princeton University, he invented a device called the particle ...more
17
John C. Mather is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physicist, Astronomer

Age: 72

Birthplace: Roanoke, Virginia

John Cromwell Mather (born August 7, 1946, Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer ...more
18
Robert Zoellick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Politician

Age: 65

Birthplace: Naperville, Illinois, United States of America

Robert Bruce Zoellick (; German: [ˈtsœlɪk]; born July 25, 1953) is an American public official and lawyer who was the eleventh president of the World Bank, a position he held from July 1, 2007 ...more
19
Martin Felix Krafft is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Programmer

Age: 40

Birthplace: Munich, Germany

20
Christopher Edley, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni

Age: 66

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts

Christopher Fairchild Edley Jr. (born January 13, 1953) was the Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) from 2004 to 2013. He serves as President of the ...more
21
Michael Dukakis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Politician, Lawyer, Teacher

Age: 85

Birthplace: Brookline, Massachusetts, United States of America

Michael Stanley Dukakis (; born November 3, 1933) is a retired American politician who served as the 65th Governor of Massachusetts, from 1975 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991. He is the ...more

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William Foote Whyte is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Anthropologist

Age: Dec. at 86 (1914-2000)

William Foote Whyte was a sociologist chiefly known for his ethnographic study in urban sociology, Street Corner Society. A pioneer in participant observation, he lived for four years in an ...more
23
John Hopfield is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Biologist, Physicist, Professor

Age: 85

Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois

John Joseph Hopfield (born July 15, 1933) is an American scientist most widely known for his invention of an associative neural network in 1982. It is now more commonly known as the Hopfield
24
Malcolm Browne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Editor, Journalist, Science writer

Age: Dec. at 81 (1931-2012)

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Malcolm Wilde Browne (April 17, 1931 – August 27, 2012) was an American journalist and photographer. His best known work was the award-winning photograph of the self-immolation of Buddhist monk ...more
25
Carol Gilligan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Psychologist, Author

Age: 82

Birthplace: New York City, New York

Carol Gilligan (; born November 28, 1936) is an American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist best known for her work on ethical community and ethical relationships, and certain subject-object ...more