Scope and Contents
The collection contains written materials that cover a period of over fifty years (1932 - 1986). The papers are a testimony to the power of God in the life of Lewis Benson. They follow his growth from a young man of deep religious conviction into a dedicated and gifted minister in the Religious Society of Friends. Many of the materials in the Lewis Benson Papers evidence his long uphill journey to reclaim the prophetic heritage of the Quaker faith. The bulk of the collection is correspondence and his writings. The end of the collection contains beta video lectures from 1984.
Copyright and Rights Information
Before her death, permission for use needed to be sought from Sarah Benson, and may now be requested from John Benson.
Biographical / Historical
Lewis Benson (August 15, 1906 - August 23, 1986) was born to Clara (Clarette) and John Benson. He was born into and raised in Manasquan Friends Meeting, New York Yearly Meeting. He rejoined the meeting in his retirement, and is buried in its graveyard. However, his religious life in his youth was rooted in two places as well: Lewis and his mother attended a Scotch Presbyterian Church, and in the summers he spent time at Sea Girt-Manasquan with his cousins. Benson attended Executive Meeting and Half Yearly Meeting, where he was able to socialize with Quakers his own age, and learn Quaker business practices. He didn’t graduate from high school, which prevented him from permanent positions at Quaker organizations later in life. He became interested in the metaphysical system of Gurdjieff, which left him in self-described despair. At 25 he was drawn to George Fox’s Journal, wherein reading about Fox’s struggle with despair, he found kinship and support. He became a life-long student of George Fox’s message, studying his work for over fifty years. He worked with Quakers in Britain. He participated in dialogues with Anabaptists and Quakers, including publishing much of his writings in “The Call,” which was published in Britain and the United States. He was a prolific writer and lecturer. The New Foundation Fellowship started in the 1970s, with Benson as as founding member. He was also part of the Young Friends movement in Philadelphia, which was concerned with reunification of the two yearly meetings. He met his wife Sarah at Pendle Hill the winter of 1933-1934, they were married in 1937 in Germantown. He later became the first librarian at Pendle Hill. Their son John was born in 1940.
(The Friend, September 19, 1986; Sarah Benson biography of Lewis)