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Famous Swarthmore College Alumni

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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?”
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Sally Ride is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physicist, Astronaut
Sally Kristen Ride was an American physicist and astronaut. Born in Los Angeles, Ride joined NASA in 1978 and, at the age of 32, became the first American woman in space and still remains the ...more
2
Alice Stokes Paul is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Author
Alice Paul was an American suffragist, feminist, and women's rights activist, and the main leader and strategist of the 1910s campaign for the Nineteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which ...more
3
Richard Pillard is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physician
Richard Colestock Pillard is a professor of psychiatry at the Boston University School of Medicine. He was the first openly gay psychiatrist in the United States.
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Christian B. Anfinsen is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Scientist
Christian Boehmer Anfinsen, Jr. was an American biochemist. He shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Stanford Moore and William Howard Stein for work on ribonuclease, especially ...more
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Howard Martin Temin is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Scientist
Howard Martin Temin was a U.S. geneticist. Along with Renato Dulbecco and David Baltimore he discovered reverse transcriptase in the 1970s at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, for which he ...more
6
Jonathan Franzen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Novelist, Essayist, Writer
Jonathan Earl Franzen is an American novelist and essayist. His 2001 novel, The Corrections, a sprawling, satirical family drama, drew widespread critical acclaim, earned Franzen a National Book ...more
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David Lewis is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physician, Philosopher
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
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Steven Gilborn is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Actor, Teacher
Steven Neil Gilborn was an American actor and educator. Gilborn was born in New Rochelle, New York. He attended Swarthmore College, where he was awarded a bachelor's degree in English and earned ...more
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Diane di Prima is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Poet, Writer
Diane di Prima is an American poet.
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Ben Brantley is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Journalist, Writer, Critic
Benjamin D. "Ben" Brantley is an American journalist and the chief theater critic of The New York Times.
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Beth Littleford is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Comedian, Actor, Presenter
Elizabeth Anna Halcyon "Beth" Littleford is an American actress, comedienne, and television personality. She is perhaps best known for being one of the original correspondents on the ...more
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Helen Magill White is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Helen Magill White was an American academic and instructor. She holds the distinction as the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in the United States.
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James Hormel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
James Catherwood Hormel is an American philanthropist and a former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg; appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton in 1999, Hormel was the first openly LGBT ...more
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Edward C. Prescott is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Professor, Economist
Edward Christian Prescott is an American economist. He received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2004, sharing the award with Finn E. Kydland, "for their contributions to dynamic ...more
15
Rudy Rucker is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Novelist, Computer scientist, Author
Rudolf von Bitter Rucker is an American mathematician, computer scientist, science fiction author, and philosopher, and is one of the founders of the cyberpunk literary movement. The author of ...more
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Gerard K. O'Neill is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Journalist, Physicist, Author
Gerard M. O'Neill  is a Pulitzer-prize winning author and journalist.
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John C. Mather is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Physicist, Astronomer
John Cromwell Mather is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite with George Smoot. This work helped ...more
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Robert Zoellick is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Politician
Robert Bruce Zoellick is an American banker who was the eleventh president of the World Bank, a position he held from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2012. He was previously a managing director of ...more
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Martin Felix Krafft is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Programmer
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Christopher Edley, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Christopher Fairchild Edley, Jr. was the Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law from 2004 to 2013. After receiving his undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College, he ...more
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Michael Dukakis is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Politician, Lawyer, Teacher
Michael Stanley Dukakis served as the 65th and 67th Governor of Massachusetts, from 1975 to 1979 and 1983 to 1991 respectively. He is the longest-serving Governor in Massachusetts history and ...more
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William Foote Whyte is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Anthropologist
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
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John Hopfield is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Biologist, Physicist, Professor
John Joseph Hopfield 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 Network. John Hopfield ...more
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Malcolm Browne is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Editor, Journalist, Science writer
Malcolm Wilde Browne was an American journalist and photographer. His best known work was the award-winning photograph of the self-immolation of Buddhist monk Thích Quảng Đức in 1963.
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Carol Gilligan is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list Famous Swarthmore College Alumni
Psychologist, Author
Carol Gilligan is an American feminist, ethicist, and psychologist best known for her work with and against Lawrence Kohlberg on ethical community and ethical relationships, and certain ...more