The Society of Friends: A Reading List

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:38pm -- baglio


The Society of Friends: A Reading List

The Society of Friends, more commonly known today as Quakers, were a prominent religious group in several colonial cities throughout the 18th Century. Newport saw up to half of it's population at one point identify as Quaker. Quakerism began in England in the mid Seventeenth Century under the leadership of George Fox, and quickly expanded to America, where it was not always exactly welcome. An early martyr of Quaker persecution in America was Mary Dyer, who was executed in 1660 for preaching illegaly. Despite early animosity, Quakerism grew in parts of America as religious toleration allowed for the Society to meet. One of the most popular areas in America for Quakers was Philadelphia,. The founder and proprietor of the colony of Pennsylvania was William Penn, a Quaker himself. By the time of the American Revolution, both Philadelphia and Newport had become epicenters for practicing in the ways of the Society of Friends.

This reading list will delve in to the impact of Quakerism in America, and how its influence was felt here in the New World. Important Quakers such as Mary Almy, and Nathanael Greene are important figures whose names are cemented in Rhode Island History. The Society of Friends were, and are still today, proponents of abolition, peace, and equality; all major issues that affect the world today.


The Quakers in America

By, Thomas D Hamm

The Quakers in America is a multifaceted history of the Religious Society of Friends and a fascinating study of its culture and controversies today. Lively vignettes of Conservative, Evangelical, Friends General Conference, and Friends United meetings illuminate basic Quaker theology and reflect the group's diversity while also highlighting the fundamental unity within the religion. Quaker culture encompasses a rich tradition of practice even as believers continue to debate whether Quakerism is necessarily Christian, where religious authority should reside, how one transmits faith to children, and how gender and sexuality shape religious belief and behavior. Praised for its rich insight and wide-ranging perspective, The Quakers in America is a penetrating account of an influential, vibrant, and often misunderstood religious sect.

Known best for their long-standing commitment to social activism, pacifism, fair treatment for Native Americans, and equality for women, the Quakers have influenced American thought and society far out of proportion to their relatively small numbers. Whether in the foreign policy arena (the American Friends Service Committee), in education (the Friends schools), or in the arts (prominent Quakers profiled in this book include James Turrell, Bonnie Raitt, and James Michener), Quakers have left a lasting imprint on American life. This multifaceted book is a concise history of the Religious Society of Friends; an introduction to its beliefs and practices; and a vivid picture of the culture and controversies of the Friends today. 

By, Emma Jones Lapsansky and Anne A. Verplanck
The notion of a uniquely Quaker style in architecture, dress, and domestic interiors is a subject with which scholars have long grappled, since Quakers have traditionally held both an appreciation for high-quality workmanship and a distrust of ostentation. Early Quakers, or members of the Society of Friends, who held "plainness" or "simplicity" as a virtue, were also active consumers of fine material goods. Through an examination of some of the material possessions of Quaker families in America during the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, the contributors to Quaker Aesthetics draw on the methods of art, social, religious, and public historians as well as folklorists to explore how Friends during this period reconciled their material lives with their belief in the value of simplicity.
By, Horace Mather Lippincott
This book provides photos of and information about Quaker meeting houses in the Mid-Atlantic area--the areas around Philadelphia, New Jersey, and Washington D.C.
By, Jessamyn West
This book contains over 60 extracts from the writings of members of the Religious Society of Friends from 1650 to 1962. It includes passages from the works of such well-known authors as George Fox, William Penn, Walt Whitman and John Greenleaf Whittier. The passages illuminate both the faith and practice of the Quaker faith throughout the ages.
By Robert Lawrence Smith

"The most valuable aspect of religion," writes Robert Lawrence Smith, "is that it provides us with a framework for living. I have always felt that the beauty and power of Quakerism is that it exhorts us to live more simply, more truthfully, more charitably."
Taking his inspiration from the teaching of the first Quaker, George Fox, and from his own nine generations of Quaker forebears, Smith speaks to all of us who are seeking a way to make our lives simpler, more meaningful, and more useful. Beginning with the Quaker belief that "There is that of God in every person," Smith explores the ways in which we can harness the inner light of God that dwells in each of us to guide the personal choices and challenges we face every day. How to live and speak truthfully. How to listen for, trust, and act on our conscience. How to make our work an expression of the best that is in us.
By, Gladys Bolhouse
This Spring 1972 edition of Newport History, published by the Newport Historical Society focuses on Redwood Library founder, and Quaker Abraham Redwood. Its brief biography is a delightful and informative read,
By, Lorraine and Alan Pryce Jones Eds. Dexter
This book tells the history of Abraham Redwood, Quaker, and and the Redwood Library in Newport, Rhode Island. It includes two centuries of the library, and tells of the books, the paintings, the catalog of paintings, the library furniture, the library grounds, and architecture of the library, and much more. Illustrated with photographs
By, John Woolman
This unabridged edition of the journal contains all eleven chapters, taking us through the memorable life of the spiritual and intrepid John Woolman, a Quaker who took it upon himself to spread the word of God throughout frontiers of British territory which had barely been mapped. Published almost 250 years ago, this book is today considered one of the earliest classics of American spiritualism. 
An early anti-slavery campaigner, John Woolman spent years convincing fellow Quakers not to keep slaves, having much success in these efforts. In later life, he would spread these efforts to Quaker meeting houses throughout England, to the point where by the end of his life, slavery had become widely opposed within the Society of Friends. He was also a strong proponent against cruelty to animals, and against economic exploitation and oppression, together with military conscription. 
Whether you are in search of spiritual guidance, or wish to learn more of the time and place in which John Woolman practiced, this journal is a fine and worthy read.
By, Arthur J. Worrall
Traces the Quaker experience in New England and New York from the arrival of the first English Quaker missionaries in 1656 to 1790.
 “Richly deserves a place on the bookshelf of anyone interested in the history of colonial Americans in general or in the accomplishments of Quakers.”—Pennsylvania History
By, Terry Golway
Nathanael Greene is a revolutionary hero who has been lost to history. Although places named in his honor dot city and country, few people know his quintessentially American story as a self-made, self-educated military genius who renounced his Quaker upbringing-horrifying his large family-to take up arms against the British. Untrained in military matters when he joined the Rhode Island militia in 1774, he quickly rose to become Washington's right-hand man and heir apparent. After many daring exploits during the war's first four years (and brilliant service as the army's quartermaster), he was chosen in 1780 by Washington to replace the routed Horatio Gates in South Carolina. Greene's southern campaign, which combined the forces of regular troops with bands of irregulars, broke all the rules of eighteenth-century warfare and foreshadowed the guerrilla wars of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His opponent in the south, Lord Cornwallis, wrote, "Greene is as dangerous as Washington. I never feel secure when I am encamped in his neighborhood. He is vigilant, enterprising, and full of resources." Greene's ingenious tactics sapped the British of their strength and resolve even as they "won" nearly every battle. Terry Golway argues that Greene's appointment as commander of the American Southern Army was the war's decisive moment, and this bold new book returns Greene to his proper place in the Revolutionary era's pantheon.
By, the Society of Friends, Providence Monthly Meeting
The pamphlet was prepared by a Bicentennial Committee selected by Providence Monthly Meeting of Friends. It aims to give a picture of what the Religious Society of Friends did during the years 1775-1790 and how they thought about their place in the political transformation during the formative years of the United States of America.
By, Ruth Plimpton
This is the story of Mary Dyer whose indomitable efforts to seek and find freedom to worship lead eventually to her death. Her quest began when she and her husband sailed from old to new England in 1635. Landing in Boston, they were soon disillusioned by the intolerant practices and beliefs of the Puritans, who considered that all truth could be found in the Old Testament and only there. Variations, from Puritan interpretations of the Ten Commandments, were punished by cruel torture and/or death. Banished from Boston for protesting such rigidity in belief and in practice, Mary was among the group who founded Rhode Island, where freedom in belief and in practice of worship was established. Mary Dyer did not cease from exploring every available form of worship until she discovered the one which spoke the truth to her. On a trip back to England, Mary met George Fox, who gave her the confidence that women had special intellectual and spiritual gifts. Fox encouraged her to become a Quaker and a missionary. She was alarmed by Boston Puritan laws designed to repress and eliminate Quakers. Undaunted, Mary challenged the Puritan intolerance. "My life not availaeth me in comparison with the liberty of the truth."
By, Elaine Forman Crane
The journal of Philadelphia Quaker Elizabeth Sandwith Drinker (1735-1807) is perhaps the single most significant personal record of eighteenth-century life in America from a woman's perspective. Drinker wrote in her diary nearly continuously between 1758 and 1807, from two years before her marriage to the night before her last illness. The extraordinary span and sustained quality of the journal make it a rewarding document for a multitude of historical purposes. One of the most prolific early American diarists—her journal runs to thirty-six manuscript volumes—Elizabeth Drinker saw English colonies evolve into the American nation while Drinker herself changed from a young unmarried woman into a wife, mother, and grandmother. Her journal entries touch on every contemporary subject political, personal, and familial.
Focusing on different stages of Drinker's personal development within the domestic context, this abridged edition highlights four critical phases of her life cycle: youth and courtship, wife and mother, middle age in years of crisis, and grandmother and family elder. There is little that escaped Elizabeth Drinker's quill, and her diary is a delight not only for the information it contains but also for the way in which she conveys her world across the centuries.

By, Robert Leach, Peter Gow
Based on original research in records long thought lost, Quaker Nantucket explores the spectacular growth of Quakerism on the Island and its equally astonishing decline amidst the collapse of the whaling industry a century later.
This book documents the spiritual and practical impacts of discrimination in the Religious Society of Friends in the belief that understanding the truth of our past is vital to achieving a diverse, inclusive community in the future. There is a common misconception that most Quakers assisted fugitive slaves and involved themselves in civil rights activism because of their belief in equality. While there were Friends committed to ending enslavement and post-enslavement injustices, Fit for Freedom, Not for Friendship reveals that racism has been as insidious, complex, and pervasive among Friends as it has been generally among people of European descent.
By, Robert H. Wilson
A written and visual history of the Philadelphia Quakers.