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Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Records: Meeting for Sufferings (1756-1910), Representative Committee (1828-1995), Interim Meeting (1996-2014), and Continuing Sessions (2015- )

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: QM-Phy-040

Scope and Contents

Records of Meeting for Sufferings, the Representative Committee, Representative Meeting and Interim Committee include minutes of proceedings, a large collection of supporting reports, and financial information for each session. Its annual reports may be found in the records of the Yearly Meeting as well as in the printed proceedings of each session. Records of smaller committees reporting to these bodies are also described in this finding aid. Larger subcommittees like the Meeting House Trust Funds Committee and its predecessors, and the various Faith and Practice Revision committees are described elsewhere, but are referenced below for the convenience of the researcher.

Some special documents deserve mention, especially the Census of Black People Residing in Philadelphia and the Liberties (1847), the statistical reports of the Philadelphia Alms House (1845-47), and the miscellaneous papers of the Meeting for Sufferings (1755-1915). This large collection of miscellaneous papers of the Meeting for Sufferings of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (pre- and Orthodox) contains a variety of important documents including epistles, memorials, reports concerning Friends who were suffering or in distress (often due to their Peace Testimony), minutes and reports from quarterly and monthly meetings, property and financial documents, papers related to book publishing, addresses to political bodies on matters of concern to Friends, and some correspondence.


  • Creation: 1719 - 2022


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research. Access may be provided via digital or microfilm copy, per repository policy.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright has not been assigned to the Repositories All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to the individual Meeting or its successor. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Repositories as the holder(s) of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by reader.

Biographical / Historical

A “Meeting for Sufferings” was established by Philadelphia Yearly Meeting in 1756. This representative body consisted of approximately 25 Quakers appointed by the Yearly Meeting. The group was specifically charged with acting for the Society of Friends in eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and the Eastern Shore of Maryland (after 1790) during the time when the Yearly Meeting was not in session. Duties included oversight of Quaker publications, recording annual accounts of sufferings (primarily as a result of the Peace Testimony) and assistance to any affected individuals, collecting memorials concerning deceased Friends, and correspondence with the Meeting for Sufferings in London.

At the time of the Separation of 1827/28, the Orthodox branch of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting maintained a Meeting for Sufferings, and the Hicksites appointed a General or Representative Committee to attend to the affairs of their Yearly Meeting during its recess. In 1910, the Orthodox renamed the Meeting for Sufferings as Representative Meeting. The name of Representative Meeting was continued at the time of the reunification of the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting with the merger of the Representative Committee of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Hicksite) and Representative Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting (Orthodox) in 1955. In 1996, Representative Meeting was renamed Interim Meeting as a result of the recommendation of the PYM Structure and Workings Committee.

Interim Meeting (1996-2014) acts on behalf of Yearly Meeting between annual sessions. Its responsibilities include: appointing officers and committee members; making policy recommendations to the Yearly Meeting; overseeing the work of its subcommittees and coordinating committees, and the financial affairs of the Yearly Meeting; sponsoring conferences and gatherings; and authorizing minutes of travel and religious service for Friends. Representative Meeting also appoints, releases, and oversees the work of numerous small ad hoc committees and working parties to consider specific issues which eventually may require the attention of standing committees. Continuing Sessions began in 2015, as part of the PYM restructure recommended by the Long-Range Planning Committee and approved in 2014. Interim Meeting transitioned to Continuing Sessions, which meet (at least) twice a year for one-day sessions for worship, business, and fellowship and hold the same authority to make organizational decisions as the body during Annual Sessions.


25 linear ft.

0.1 GB

Language of Materials


Physical Location

This collection includes records stored at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College and at the Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections. Please contact for more information on depositing new records.

Immediate Source of Acquisition


Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Records: Meeting for Sufferings (1756-1910), Representative Committee (1828-1995), and Interim Meeting (1996- )
Inventory prepared by PCO & CW
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2017: 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. This electronic finding aid was updated by Sophie McGlynn, 2017.

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 or requesting repoductions from Quaker Meeting Records at Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections and Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library