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Elias Hicks Manuscript Collection

Identifier: SFHL-MSS-044

Scope and Contents

The collection includes: Correspondence written and received by Elias Hicks, sermons, surveyor's drawings, family correspondence, and other papers. Also Includes the original manuscript journal of Elias Hicks, 1748-1822 (in three parts), and the 1828 Ohio travel journal. The papers relate primarily to Hicks' travels in the ministry and to theological controversies within the Religious Society of Friends.

Ser. 1 Letters written by Elias Hicks, arranged chronologically
Ser. 2 Letters by Elias Hicks to Jemima Hicks, 1779-1828
Ser. 3 Letters received by Elias Hicks, arranged alphabetically by sender
Ser. 4 Miscellaneous manuscripts, including surveys, family papers
Ser. 5 Journal of Elias Hicks


  • Creation: 1779 - 1948
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1779 - 1830


Conditions Governing Access

Access is restricted. Permission for access must be approved by Curator of Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. The journal of Elias Hicks is available on microfilm and in published versions.

Conditions Governing Use

Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See

Biographical / Historical

Elias Hicks was born on March 19, 1748, a birthright member of Westbury Monthly Meeting, New York, and the son of John and Martha (Smith) Hicks. At thirteen he went to live with his older brother and was apprenticed to a carpenter. During this time, he became increasingly devoted to religious principles. In 1771, he married Jemima Seaman, the daughter of Jonathan and Elizabeth (Willis) Seaman. He worked as a farmer and partner in a tannery. Elias Hicks was recognized as a minister in 1779 and during the next fifty years made sixty-three visits as a travelling Friend to meetings in the United States. Elias and Jemima had ten children, their four sons tragically dying before maturity of a congenital disorder.

Hicks was a traditional quietist Quaker and opposed to the emerging evangelical emphasis among some Friends. He resisted efforts by London and Philadelphia evangelical Friends to cease his ministry. The controversy in emphasis, with other issues, led the a schism in the Society of Friends in 1827/28. Friends who followed his teachings were labeled "Hicksites" by their opponents, a term that he and they resisted. Elias Hicks died on February 27, 1830, in Jericho, Long Island, New York.


1 linear ft. : Approximately 1,000 items

Language of Materials



Elias Hicks (1748-1830) was an eminent Quaker minister from Jericho, Long Island, N.Y. In the 1820s, a religious controversy within the Society of Friends which focused on Hicks' ministry led to the Hicksite-Orthodox Separation of 1827-1828. The collection includes correspondence written and received by Elias Hicks, sermons, surveyor's drawings, family correspondence, and other papers. Also includes the original 1748-1822 manuscript journal of Elias Hicks (in three parts) and the 1828 Ohio travel journal.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Esther Haviland Cornell, Marietta Hicks, Anna Wharton Morris, Anna Seaman, William R. Seaman, and others, 1932-1955.

Gift of Westbury Monthly Meeting, 1949.

Gift ofBliss Forbush, 1963, 1970.

Gift of New York Yearly Meeting, 1997.

Gift of Charlotte O'Neil Oliver, Acc. 2013.033

Existence and Location of Copies

Journal of Elias Hicks, 1828 [microform] : Travel journal, 6-14-1828 to 9-6-1828. Microfilm copy of manuscript. Original at Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College. FHL call number : MS-H Hicks (Elias), 1748-1830.

Journal of the life and religious labours of Elias Hicks. New York, Arno Press, 1969. Reprint of the 5th edition, 1832.

Processing Information

This is an artificial collection, created pre-1949, combining Elias Hicks materials from a number of sources. Much of this collection is individually described in the Library's manuscript card catalog. In 1949, a group of Hicks materials were deposited by the Westbury Monthly Meeting. These papers were integrated in to the collection, along with later gifts. Also integrated in to the collection is the gift of Hicks papers from the New York Yearly Meeting which came to FHL as part of the transfer of records from the Haviland Record Room in April 1997. A revised finding aid was created in 2004 with items in the collection individually inventoried. Checklists of specific sources are available in the Depository.

Elias Hicks Manuscript Collection
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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 Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College Library

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