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Thomas Evans papers

 Collection
Identifier: HC.MC.1324

Scope and Contents

This collection contains over 240 mainly incoming manuscript letters addressed to Thomas Evans, a Philadelphia druggist, author, editor, Quaker minister of Philadelphia and, in 1833, one the founders of Haverford College. The letters, 1823-1859, contain material on his very active role in the Society of Friends and the problems of religious doctrine before and during the great Hicksite and Wilburite schisms. These letters offer a highly detailed account of the Hicksite theological controversy with its attendant social disruptions through the correspondence with many of the Quaker ministers of the period.The collection also includes letters containing information and discussions on the abolition of slavery and the publishing of various Quaker related pamphlets and works. Thomas Evans also had extensive correspondence with Joseph John Gurney, who would later become an inspiration in the Gurneyite-Wilburite schism in 1842 within the Orthodox Quaker branch. Overall, this manuscript archive during a critical period of Quaker history shows in minute detail the numerous controversies during the schisms as they played out in Philadelphia, New York, Baltimore, and the West Country (Indiana, Ohio, etc.), as well as England. A highlight in the collection is the copies of letters sent between Anna Braithwaite, an orthodox minister and Elias Hicks, the animus for the Hicksite branch. There are also letters from Elisha Bates, a Quaker minister and printer in Ohio, Samuel Parsons, preacher and founder of a Quaker nursery in Long Island, Thomas Willis, preacher and assistant of the underground railroad and numerous other Quaker figures including merchants, politicians, farmers and craftspeople.The collection also contains documents and letters concerning Thomas’ work as estate trustee for multiple estates and documents concerning Catharine Foulke’s stay at the Philadelphia Asylum.

Dates

  • 1704 - 1868
  • Majority of material found within 1823 - 1859

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

Collection is open for research

Copyright and Rights Information

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

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Evans was born on February 23rd, 1798 in Philadelphia to Jonathan Evans, Jr. and Hannah Bacon. He was a descendant in the third generation of the Gwynedd group of settlers in Pennsylvania. The Evans family resided in Philadelphia and the seven children were reared in the traditions of the Society of Friends. Evans was educated at the Academy at 4th and Chestnut Streets in Philadelphia. By 1819, he established himself as a druggist at 3rd and Spruce Streets in Philadelphia and in 1834 Evans married Catharine Wistar (d. 1871), the daughter of John and Charlotte Wistar of Salem, New Jersey. During Evans’ early adulthood (1820-1835) there occurred several heated religious controversies in the Society of Friends. In 1827 the great schism in the Society of Friends reached its apex. On reflection in later years he characterized the separation as the “most mournful controversy that ever divided a once united people.” The Orthodox movement schismed again in 1842 to form the Gurneyite and Wilburite branches of the Quaker faith. After the Orthodox-Hicksite schism Evans worked as a minister, author and publisher supporting ideas of the Orthdox Quaker movement. Evans, with others, also helped found Haverford College, a Quaker college. Haverford College was founded by members of the Orthodox Philadelphia Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. Evans was one of the first managers of the college. Evans also helped manage estates and took on various responsibilities in the Philadelphia Quaker community. He communicated with many like-minded Quakers through the schisms and helped pass on information from the Northeast to the South and Midwest, as well as to and from Quakers in England. In 1837, Evans embarked by steamer to Charleston, South Carolina to look after some property owned by the Society of Friends. During the trip a violent storm struck the ship and Evans injured his spine, never entirely recovering. During the winter of 1867-1868 he took ill and by early spring was entirely confined to his room. Thomas Evans died on May 25th, 1868 in Philadelphia at the age of 70.

Extent

.75 Linear Feet (2 boxes)

Language

English

Overview

This collection contains over 240 mainly incoming manuscript letters addressed to Thomas Evans, a Philadelphia druggist, author, editor, Orthodox Quaker minister of Philadelphia and, in 1833, one the founders of Haverford College. The letters, 1823-1859, contain material on his very active role in the Society of Friends and the problems of religious doctrine before and during the Hicksite and Wilburite schisms within the Quaker faith. The collection also includes papers and legal documents from Evans’ role as trustee for multiple Quaker estates.

Arrangement

Letters are organized chronologically and documents are organized by subject.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Thomas Evans Papers, were purchased by Special Collections, Haverford College, in 2021, from Carmen D. Valentino.

Processing Information

Processed by Janeen Lamontagne; completed December 2021

Title
Thomas Evans papers
Author
Janeen Lamontagne
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

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 Haverford College Quaker & Special Collections Library

Contact:
370 Lancaster Ave
Haverford PA 19041 USA US