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Archives & Manuscripts

Public Friends manuscripts collection

Identifier: SFHL-MSS-045


While the Society of Friends is a "ministry of all believers," historically certain members have been recognized for their spiritual gifts. Those who undertake to travel and preach with the approbation of their home meeting are known as Public Friends. Especially in the 17th, 18th, and 19th century, traveling ministers served a key role in forming Quaker social and theological networks, fostering unity within the Society of Friends, and providing spiritual enrichment to Quakers across the world. Ministers who felt a spiritual opening directing them to travel would tell their Monthly Meeting, and if approved, the meeting would write a minute for the minister to carry on their journey and present to the Meeting(s) they visited. Quaker Meetings would often keep records of the Public Friends who visited them. This collection consists of lists of Public Friends, as well as minutes from Quaker meetings approving ministers to travel. Items were written by various Quaker meetings or individuals, and accumulated by the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College over time. Most of the lists features Public Friends who visited New England or Pennsylvania, but there are also lists of Public Friends visiting parts of the United Kingdom.


  • 1656 - 1899

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is available for research use.

Copyright and Rights Information

The Friends Historical Library believes that all documents in this collection are in the Public Domain in the United States.


.3 Linear Feet (1 document box)



Related Materials

See also: JOURNALS(MS.), Foulke, Samuel et al. and MEETING PAPERS(MS.)(MISC): Visiting minutes.
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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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

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA