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Archives & Manuscripts

Friends' Employment Society Record

Identifier: SFHL-RG4-098
This collection contains minutes and financial records from 1862 to 1948. It also includes work assignments, donations, and other miscellaneous papers.

Organized into five series:
  1. Constitution and legal
  2. Minutes
  3. Treasurer's Books
  4. Annual reports
  5. Miscellaneous


  • 1862-1948


Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

Copyright has not been assigned to Friends Historical Library. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in to the Director. Permission for publication is given on behalf Friends Historical Library as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.


1 Linear Feet (2 boxes)


The Friends Employment Society was founded in 1862 in New York City by Hicksite women as the Women's Association of Friends for the Employment and Relief by Clothing of the Suffering Poor. Incorporated in 1902, it provided employment for the working poor by providing sewing projects. In 1948 it revised its charter to state its purpose of giving help to needy people, through contributions to other charitable organizations. This collection contains minutes and financial and other records from 1862 to 1948.

Biographical / Historical

The Friends Employment Society was founded in New York City in 1862 by Hicksite women as the Women's Association of Friends for the Employment and Relief by Clothing of the Suffering Poor. These Quakers felt a concern to aid in relieving the want and distress of the wives and widows of soldiers, women who were untrained for work outside of the home, and women whose family cares compelled them to remain in the home.

Incorporated in 1902, it continued to provide sewing employment for the working poor. In the early years, the Society purchased the materials, and its own members cut the garments which were distributed for sewing by the beneficiaries who were paid for their work. Later, other charitable associations such as the Association of Friends for the Relief of Freedmen and local hospitals purchased the materials. The Friends Employment Society distributed the piecework and paid the workers. The finished clothing and bedding were then returned to the charitable organization. During WWII, instead of sewing linens for hospitals, the women sewed garments for the American Friends Service Committee, to be distributed overseas.

By 1947, the Society became inactive due to the small number of participants and changing labor conditions and welfare options. In 1948, it changed its charter to support the needy through contributions to other charitable organizations, which included the New York Young Friends Aid Association, a New York Quaker organization that consistently donated funds to the Friends Employment Society.

Physical Location

For current information on the location of materials, please consult the Library's online catalog.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Donor: New York Yearly Meeting

Date: 1997

Processing Information

Annual Reports were transferred from SG 3 files in Friends Historical Library to supplement issues lacking in the collection.
Finding aid for Friends' Employment Society (New York, N.Y.) Records, 1862-1948
FHL staff
Description rules
Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2016: This electronic finding aid was updated in Summer 2016 by Abdulrezak Kemal in preparation for importing into ArchivesSpace, to conform to current markup standards and the ArchivesSpace data model.

Find It at the Library

Most of the materials in this catalog are not digitized and can only be accessed in person. Please see our website for more information about visiting Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

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Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA