South, Certified Genealogist
Before I studied genealogy, all I knew about
the Quakers was from the book, Friendly Persuasion
by Jessamyn West. I knew Quakers believed in plain
dress and used the beautiful "Thee and "Thou"
instead of "you" and "your" - but there is so much
more to know!
The Society of Friends or Quakers is a religion
sect that was founded in England in 1652 by George
Fox. The Quakers sent missionaries to the US in
1656 and after some initial persecution the
religion began to grow. A large number of Quakers
went with William Penn and helped settle
Pennsylvania, but Quakers lived in all of the
Accurate record keeping has always been very
important to the Quakers. Minute books of the
monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings were kept,
but the ones of most value to the genealogist are
the monthly meeting minute books. These books
include birth, marriage and burial records. They
also contained "removals" (members wanting
permission to move to another location.) These
help us establish our ancestor's migration
pattern. The women and men had an equal place in
worship, and from 1670 until 1890 separate men's
and women's business meetings were held and
minutes were kept by both groups. If one record
was lost or destroyed the other usually survived.
The men's minutes were referred to as " The
A large number of Quaker records have been
transcribed and are in print. The best known
collection is Encyclopedia of American Quaker
Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw; Genealogical
Publishing Co., Baltimore. These books can be
found in many genealogical collections.
Many records have been microfilmed by the LDS
Church and are available at their branch libraries
through inter-library loan.
The two major repositories for Quaker Records
in the U.S. are:
Haverford College Library
Quaker and Special
370 Lancaster Ave.
Friends Historical Library
Swathmore, PA 19081
Both of these libraries have good internet
sites that tell us about their collections, hours,