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Friends Historical Library manuscript epistles collection

Identifier: SFHL-MSS-006


The term "epistle" is used to refer to letters exchanged between Quaker organizations, especially from one yearly meeting to another. Epistles are often used to articulate Quaker doctrine and discipline. This collection of various manuscript (handwritten) epistles was compiled from the Friends Historical Library from different sources.


  • Creation: 1688 - 1973


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is available for research use.

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


1.67 linear ft. (5 document boxes)

Language of Materials



This collection is organized into three series: epistles issued by American yearly meetings, epistles issued by Foreign yearly meetings, and epistles issued by other entities (mostly American monthly or Quarterly meetings). Within the first two series, epistles are divided alphabetically by issuing yearly meeting; then sorted by men's meeting, meeting for sufferings, or women's meeting; and then placed in chronological order. The third series is sorted chronologically. Some listed epistles are not in this collection, but are cross-referenced to their location in another collection.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Items accumulated at various sources over time by the Friends Historical Library.

Related Materials

See also: SFHL/PG1: Printed Epistles.

Processing Information

In March 2018, a pre-existing typewritten checklist was encoded and imported into ArchivesSpace, and the collection was re-housed in standard document boxes while preserving the existing order.

In April 2018, the series "Epistles other than Yearly Meetings" from MSS 058 Miscellaneous Meeting Papers was removed from that collection and added to this one instead.

Genre / Form

Friends Historical Library manuscript epistles collection
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

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

500 College Avenue
Swarthmore Pennsylvania 19081 USA