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Lewis Benson papers

Identifier: HC.MC-1162

Scope and Contents

The collection contains written materials that cover a period of over fifty years (1932 - 1986). The papers attest to the influence of the power of God in the life of Lewis Benson. They follow his growth from a young man of religious conviction into a minister in the Religious Society of Friends. Many of the materials in the Lewis Benson Papers evidence his efforts 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.


  • Creation: 1932-1986


Access Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Law Applies (U.S. Title 17)

Conditions Governing Use

Before her death, permission for use needed to be sought from Sarah Benson, and may now be requested from John Benson.

Use Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical / Historical

Lewis Benson (August 15, 1906 - August 23, 1986) was born to Clara [Claretta] (Morris) 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 did not 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 was 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 (uaker retreat in eastern Pennsylvania) 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)


9.34 linear ft. (21 document boxes)

Language of Materials



The Lewis Benson Papers document the life and service of Lewis V. Benson (1906-1986), a Quaker and recorded minister of New York Yearly Meeting. His in-depth reading and study of the writings of 17th century Quakers gave him the venue to bring their message to a modern audience. He did this predominantly through his own writings and lectures.


The collection has four series. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically. Writing is arranged chronologically and by subject. Personal history is predominately undated. Multimedia is arranged chronologically.

Related Materials

- Lewis Benson papers, MC.950.020 - Henry Joel Cadbury papers, MC.1121


Lewis Benson papers, 1932-1986
Processed by Mary Crauderueff; completed April 2018. Previously processed by Caryl Johnston and Christopher E. Stern; unknown date.
April, 2018
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
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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 or requesting repoductions from Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US