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American Friends' letters

Identifier: HC.MC-851

Scope and Contents

The letters and documents in this collection, including many by well-known Friends, shed light on several aspects of Quaker history and thought from religious and economic to cultural developments. Topics discussed include news of family and Friends, Society of Friends affairs and controversies (e.g. Elias Hicks American Friends' Letters and the Separation of 1827-1828, the Wilbur-Gurney controversy, the Richmond Declaration of Faith), women's suffrage, Japan, missionary work, ministers, spiritual matters, business, education, Friends and the military, Quaker attitudes towards enslavement, manumission and the theory for establishing a colony for formerly enslaved Blacks in Africa, relationships and interactions between Quakers and Indigienous Peoples including the Lenape and Kickapoo. Among the letters are those of Phineas Pemberton, 1682, on education and temperance; Thomas Chalkley, 1742, on women's dress; Nicholas Waln, 1766, relating to commerce; Richard Partridge, 1749, on trade and Canada expedition; John Hunt, 1742, on shipping and privateers; John Woolman, 1763, on religious affairs; Isaac Zane, 1777, on iron works and Revolutionary War events; Henry Drinker and John Pemberton, 1777, relating to their exile in Winchester, Virginia.

Correspondents include Moses Brown, George Churchman, Elijah Coffin, Elihu Grant, Stephen Grellet, Mary Coates Groth, J. Rendel Harris, Elias Hicks, John Hunt, Esther B. Jones, Jesse Kersey, Benjamin W. Ladd, Joseph Mendenhall, Lucretia Mott, William H. Nicholson, Robert Pleasants, James E. Rhoads, Elbert Russell, William Savery, Joseph Turner, John Greenleaf Whittier, John Woolman and others. Also includes papers of Masters and Sharpless families.


  • Creation: 1682-1986


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Standard Federal Copyright Laws Apply (U.S. Title 17).

Historical Note

Quakers, also known as Friends, comprise a Christian religious movement called The Religious Society of Friends. The Religious Society of Friends began in England in the 17th century, and Quakers first arrived in North America in the mid-17th century. After facing persecution in Puritan Massachusetts, many Quakers settled in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, on Lenape land, following the lead of prominent Quaker William Penn. Quakers are organized into local congregations, called Meetings (often Monthly Meetings), and larger organizations, called Yearly Meetings. The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting, for example, joins together many Monthly Meetings in the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area.


4.25 linear ft. (10 boxes)

Language of Materials



The collection is composed chiefly of letters of members of the Society of Friends in the United States from the 17th to the 20th centuries; there are also documents, clippings, published articles, and miscellaneous manuscripts.

Processing Information

Original processing information unknown. Revised by Allison Hall; completed June, 2020. Revised by Janeen Lamontagne; completed May 2022.

American Friends' letters, 1682-1986
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • June, 2020: Revised by Allison Hall
  • March, 2022: Revised by Janeen Lamontagne

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