Samuel Austin Collection

Credo digital
Overview: An historian and educator, Samuel Austin (1816-1897) was known for his long association with the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. (later renamed the Moses Brown School). An alumnus who married an alumna, Elizabeth H. Osborn, Austin taught at the Boarding school for decades and was instrumental in gathering and preserving documents relating to the school. He wrote and lectured regularly on the history of Friends' education and on the Boarding School, and its noted teachers and alumni.

A product of the historical work of Samuel Austin, the collection contains both essays, notes, and talks on the Friends' Boarding School in Providence and on Moses and Obadiah Brown, and some significant original documents used by Austin in his research. Noteworthy among the original materials are a fascinating series of records from monthly and quarterly meetings in and near Rhode Island, mostly in 1787-1793; a rich series of epistles received by Smithfield Monthly Meeting from other meetings in New England (1718-1767); some key printed epistles from Yearly Meetings, including those on war (London, New England, and Philadelphia Yearly) and slavery (London and Philadelphia). Of equal note are a series of letters from Elisha Thornton (a New Bedford merchant, educator, and antislavery advocate), a lengthy letter on doctrine from John Wilbur, and a 1765 sermon from Rachel Wilson.

See similar SCUA collections:

Antislavery
Education
Peace
Quakers
Rhode Island

Background on Samuel Austin

An historian, educator, and long associate of the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. (later renamed the Moses Brown School), Samuel Austin was born on Nantucket, Mass., on June 15, 1816, the son of Joseph A. and Rachel (Hussey) Austin. Having attended the school during a flourishing period in the 1830s, Austin never broke his ties. When he married on Oct. 12, 1843, he married an alumna, Elizabeth H. Osborn (1820-1893), and for any years thereafter, he taught at the school and wrote historical essays centered on the institution, its noted teachers and alumni, and on local Quaker history.

Austin and his wife raised a family of five: Katharine Hanson Austin (b. 1841), Mary Louise Austin (b. 1847), John Osborne Austin (1849-1918), William Samuel Austin (b. 1854), and Rachel Austin (b. 1859). Both Katharine and Mary followed their father as teachers at the Boarding School. Samuel Austin died in Providence on Feb. 13, 1897.

Contents of Collection

A product of the historical work of Samuel Austin, the collection contains both essays, notes, and talks on the Friends' Boarding School in Providence and on Moses and Obadiah Brown, and some significant original documents used by Austin in his research. Noteworthy among the original materials are a fascinating series of records from monthly and quarterly meetings in and near Rhode Island, mostly in 1787-1793; a rich series of epistles received by Smithfield Monthly Meeting from other meetings in New England (1718-1767); some key printed epistles from Yearly Meetings, including those on war (London, New England, and Philadelphia Yearly) and slavery (London and Philadelphia). Of equal note are a series of letters from Elisha Thornton (a New Bedford merchant, educator, and antislavery advocate), a lengthy letter on doctrine from John Wilbur, and a 1765 sermon from Rachel Wilson.

Collection inventory
Austin, Katharine H.: Letter to Thomas J. Battey
1919 June 12
1 item
Box 1: 1
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Historical essays on Friends and Friends history
1879-1919
17 folders
Austin, Samuel: Daniel Howland (notes for essay or talk)
ca.1890
1 folder
Box 1: 2
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Education and some educators among early Friends
1916
1 folder
Box 1: 3
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Elisha Thornton (folder enclosing essays, notes)
ca.1895
1 folder
Box 1: 4
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Elisha Thornton (notes and essay)
ca.1895
1 folder
Box 1: 5
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Friends Boarding School, Providence (notes)
ca.1885
1 folder
Box 1: 6
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Friends Boarding School, Providence (notes and drafts)
ca.1885
1 folder
Box 1: 7
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Friends' history (notes)
undated
1 folder
Box 1: 8
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Friends Sufferings in Rhode Island (notes)
ca.1919
1 folder
Box 1: 9
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Isaac Lawton (essay typescript)
ca.1895
1 folder
Box 1: 10
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: A list of ministers and elders of New England Yearly Meeting
1879
1 folder
Box 1: 11
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Moses Brown, Elisha Thornton, et al. (notes)
ca.1890
1 folder
Box 1: 12
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Portsmouth School (talk read at Friends School, in part)
ca.1884
1 folder
Box 1: 13
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Portsmouth School (includes discussion of teachers Isaac Lawton and comments on Elisha Thornton and Job Scott)
ca.1884
1 folder
Box 1: 14
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Saylesville (essay or talk)
1896
1 folder
Box 1: 15
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Saylesville (talk), read at Saylesville, R.I.
1896
1 folder
Box 1: 16
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: Thomas Howland (talk)
1891
1 folder
Box 1: 17
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Austin, Samuel: William Rotch (essay)
ca.1893
1 folder
Box 1: 18
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Battey, Thomas C.: The other side of the shield (newsclipping from The Informant on Indian affairs
1876
1 folder
Box 1: 19
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Brown, Moses and Obadiah: Notes by Rayner W. Kelsey, Augustine Jones, et al. on Moses Brown and son
1918
1 folder
Box 1: 20
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Primarily assembled by Kelsey.

Clark, Samuel W.: Memoirs of Samuel W. Clark, as given by his mother
1814
1 folder
Box 1: 21
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Reminiscences of a deceased child.

Clinton Grove School (Weare, N.H.): Printed flier
1841
1 folder
Box 1: 22
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Flier announcing new term.

Coleman, Elihu: Advice to his children and grandchildren [later transcript]
1790
1 folder
Box 1: 23
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Collins, Micajah: Poetry from the Newport Mercury. A tribute to respect of the memory of Micajah Collins
1866
1 printed handbill
Box 1: 24
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Earle, John: Letter to David Buffum
1815 Mar. 14
1 folder
Box 1: 25
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Epistles
1815 Mar. 14
1 folder
London Yearly Meeting [printed]
1781-1795
2 items
Box 1: 26
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Concerning non-participation in the War of 1812. "Signed on behalf of the Meeting, by Samuel Rodman, clerk this year. Not in Shaw & Shoemaker.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

"To our Friends and Brethren in these and the neighbouring Provinces." "Signed in and on behalf of the Yearly Meeting, by James Pemberton, clerk."

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

On ending slavery. "Signed on behalf and by direction of a meeting representing the religious society called Quakers in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, &c. held in Philadelphia the 15th. of the 11th. month 1799. John Drinker, clerk"--Page 3.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Quaker pacifist tract read as having loyalist sympathies; "the happy connection ... and our just and necessary subordination to the king." Signed by John Pemberton, Clerk.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Exhortation for Friends "to act consistently with the purity and Meekness of our Christian Profession; becoming the Followers of our peaceable Saviour Jesus Christ, and the Practice and Advice of faithful Friends in all Times of Trial and Difficulty" with quote from George Fox.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Epistles: Smithfield Monthly Meeting
1718-1739
1 folder
Box 1: 32
Contents:

Mostly epistles received from other meetings in New England; certificates of removal, etc.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Confessing regret at "out going" and requesting forgiveness.

Epistles: Smithfield Monthly Meeting
1740-1749
1 folder
Box 1: 33
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Epistles: Smithfield Monthly Meeting
1751-1759
1 folder
Box 1: 34
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Epistles: Smithfield Monthly Meeting
1760-1767, 1798
1 folder
Box 1: 35
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Free Produce Meeting [circular letter and pledge list]
1849-1852
1 folder
Box 2: 1
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Organizing a free produce campaign in Newport and elsewhere in Rhode Island.

French Quakers, letter to Edward Fox
ca.1807
1 folder
Box 2: 2
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

May relate to the capture of the Brig Providence (Edward Fox, Master).

Greene, Lois Anna: Notes and reminiscences
ca.1920
1 folder
Box 2: 3
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Greene (1840-1923) was from Providence and attended the Friends Boarding School.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Undated, but appears to be the George Howland of New Bedford who died in 1852. The obituary first appeared in the Whaleman's Shipping List for June 1, 1852.

Ives, Clara E. (granddaughter of Elisha Thornton)
1888
1 folder
Box 2: 5
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

1846
1 printed handbill
Box 2: 6
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Kelsey, Rayner W.: notes from research on Friends' education
ca.1920
1 box
Box 3
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Meeting Records
1722-1857
Dartmouth Monthly Meeting
1787
1 folder
Box 2: 7
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

East Greenwich Quarterly Meeting (Women)
1787-1791
1 folder
Box 2: 8
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends: miscellaneous fliers
1853, 1857
1 folder
Box 2: 9
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends: Queries
1722
1 folder
Box 2: 10
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends: Queries
1755 June
1 folder
Box 2: 11
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends: Queries
ca.1780
1 folder
Box 2: 12
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Newport Yearly Meeting of Women Friends
1789-1793
1 folder
Box 2: 13
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Portsmouth Monthly Meeting: Prayers
1809
1 folder
Box 2: 14
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Portsmouth Quarterly Meeting
1788
1 folder
Box 2: 15
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Providence Monthly Meeting (subscription for Barclay's Apology, support for the poor
1729, 1787
1 folder
Box 2: 16
Contents:

Subscription list of 1729 is only tentatively identified and may be from Smithfield Monthly instead.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Providence Monthly Meeting (Women)
1791
1 folder
Box 2: 17
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Providence Quarterly Meeting (Women)
1789
1 folder
Box 2: 18
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Rhode Island Monthly Meeting
1811
1 folder
Box 2: 19
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting. School Committee
1779
1 folder
Box 2: 20
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Smithfield Monthly Meeting (Women)
1771-1777
1 folder
Box 2: 21
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Smithfield Quarterly Meeting
1787-1788
1 folder
Box 2: 22
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Smithfield Quarterly Meeting
1819
1 folder
Box 2: 23
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Swansea Quarterly Meeting (Women)
1788
1 folder
Box 2: 24
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

New England Tract Association of Friends
1838-1858
1 folder
Box 2: 25
Contents:

"Removed from Austin Collection of Moses Brown Papers, Box 3, in 1996. -- R. D. S."

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Register of all the Publick Friends that have visited New England since the year 1656, with Register of all the women Friends
ca.1820
1 folder
Box 2: 26
Contents:

See several additional copies of the same manuscript in the Quaker Miscellaneous Collection (MS 926).

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Rotch, William: Letters to Walter Allen (New Bedford, Mass.)
1813-1816
1 folder
Box 2: 27
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Contents:

Text printed in two columns divided by a single rule. Followed by "Names of the brethren whose mouths were opened in testimony at George Fox's burial, in the meeting house." and "Appeared in testimony at the grave."

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Thornton, Elisha: Correspondence with Moses Brown
1781-1806
1 folder
Box 2: 29
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Thornton, Elisha: Letter to William Buffum
1810 Dec. 15
1 folder
Box 2: 30
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Thornton, Elisha: Letter to Thomas Howland
1794
1 folder
Box 2: 31
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Thornton, Elisha: Letter to Hyrena Paine
1809
1 folder
Box 2: 32
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Wilson, Rachel: Sermon. . . delivered at the Friends Meeting House in the Province of New York
ca.1765
1 folder
Box 2: 34
Provenance:

Originally part of the NEYM Austin Collection.

Miscellaneous
ca.1914
1 folder
Box 2: 35

Administrative information

Access

The collection is open for research.

Language:

English

Provenance

Part of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Collection, April 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by I. Eliot Wentworth, August 2016.

Digitized content

Selected materials from the Austin collection have been digitized and are available online through Credo.

Copyright and Use (More informationConnect to publication information)

Cite as: Samuel Austin Collection (MS 937). Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Search terms

Subjects

  • Antislavery movements
  • Peace movements--Rhode Island
  • Quaker women--Rhode Island--18th century
  • Quakers--Education--Rhode Island
  • Rhode Island--History--18th century
  • Society of Friends--History--Rhode Island

Link to similar SCUA collections

Names

  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
  • Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Thornton, Elisha, 1748-1816
  • Wilbur, John 1774-1856

Genre terms

  • Correspondence
  • Minutes (Administrative records)