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Mount Toby Meeting of Friends

Mount Toby Meeting of Friends Collection
1977-1991
1 box (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 694

The Northampton Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends (later the Middle Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting) was formally established in 1939, bringing together the small community of Friends in Western Massachusetts. In 1959, the small preparative meetings in Amherst, Greenfield, Northampton, and South Hadley agreed to consolidate to create a more vital gathering. After five years without a fixed location, a Friend was moved to donate three acres of land on Long Plain Road in Leverett on which to build a proper meetinghouse. When that building opened in 1964, the meeting was renamed the Mt Toby Meeting.

Reflecting a strong history of promoting peace social justice, the Mt. Toby collection documents Friends’ involvement in a wide variety of issues ranging from war tax resistance (Randy Kehler and Betsy Corner), the “Colrain action” when the Kehler/Corner house was seized by the IRS), peace education and civil disobedience, refugee resettlement, the Sanctuary movement, and support for LGBT issues and racial equality. The collection consists largely of fliers and newsletters, ephemera, and newspaper clippings.

Subjects
  • Corner, Betsy
  • Kehler, Randy
  • Mount Toby Meeting of Friends (Quakers)
  • Pacifists
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Sanctuary movement
  • War tax resistance--Massachusetts

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Quaker History Collection
1783-1950
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 926

During the early twentieth century, the library at the Moses Brown School (formerly the Friends Boarding School) became an informal repository for Quaker manuscripts reflecting the history and work of the Society of Friends. Most of these materials were later transferred for custody to the school’s governing body, the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends.

This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.” Many of the letters appear to have been retained as good examples of Quaker expression of family and friendly bonds or as documentation about significant periods in Quaker history, particularly the Gurneyite-Wilburite controversy of the 1840s, and several touch on Quaker involvement in the antislavery and peace movements. Of special note are four interesting letters from the Quaker minister and social reformer, Elizabeth Comstock, written during and just after the Civil War; a series of nine lengthy letters from a visiting English minister Isaac Stephenson, traveling through New England meetings; a substantial series of letters from prominent Friend Samuel Boyd Tobey; and three letters from Harriet Beecher Stowe to Sarah F. Tobey regarding attempts to connect Stowe with Alexander T. Stewart in hopes of raising funds for her plans for the education of women.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
  • Antislavery movements--United States
  • Gurney, James Joseph
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Wilbur, John,
Contributors
  • Comstock, Elizabeth L.
  • Stewart, Alexander Turney, 1803-1876
  • Stowe, Harriet Beecher, 1811-1896
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends Records
1654-2016
(384.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 902

In 1661, less than a decade after the first Friends arrived in British North America, the precursor to the New England Yearly Meeting was organized as the Rhode Island Yearly Meeting. As one of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthlies, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society. Like many Yearly meetings, the NEYM has been diverse in spiritual practice, reflected in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, Orthodox Friends in New England divided in the 1840s into the increasingly evangelically-oriented Gurneyites, who went by the name Yearly Meeting of Friends for New England (joining Friends United Meeting in 1902), and the Wilburites, sometimes called Conservative Friends. In 1945, the disparate branches formally reunited.

Consolidated beginning in the 1960s, the NEYM collection contains the official records of the New England Yearly Meeting from its founding in the seventeenth century to the present, along with records of most of its constituent Quarterly, Monthly, and Preparative Meetings and records of Quaker schools and trusts. As varied as the Quaker practice they document, these records include minutes of meetings for business; committee records; newsletters, financial records; some personal papers; printed books and serials; and an assortment of photographs, audiovisual materials, microfilm, and electronic records. Of particular note are the vital statistics recorded by the Monthly Meetings, including general information on births, deaths, marriages, membership, and obituaries, and specifically-Quaker information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties suffered by Quakers for following testimonies). The Archives Committee of the NEYM is a partner in records management and on-going documentation of the Meeting and its constituent bodies. The collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and several individual monthly meetings. The records of most monthly meetings in Maine are held at the Maine Historical Society, while important bodies of records are held at the Newport Historical Society (some Nantucket and Rhode Island Meetings) or at individual Monthly Meetings.

An overview of the NEYM collections and a comprehensive inventory and finding aid prepared by Richard Stattler in 1997 at the Rhode Island Historical Society are available online. Stattler’s inventory includes materials in the NEYM Collection at UMass, as well as NEYM materials held at other institutions. SCUA’s updated inventory will follow in 2017.

Subjects
  • Quakers--New England
  • Society of Friends--New England--History

Hefner, William K.

William K. Hefner Papers
1962-1978
6 boxes (9 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 129
Image of Bill Hefner for Congress
Bill Hefner for Congress

In 1960, William K. Hefner (1915-1993) became one of the first of new breed of radical pacifists to run for elective office, when he ran as a peace candidate for Congress in the 1st district of Massachusetts. An accountant from Greenfield, Hefner was involved at a national level with movements for peace and civil rights. An early member of SANE, a founder of Political Action for Peace in 1959 (now CPPAX) and the Greenfield Peace Center (1963), and an active member of the American Friends Service Committee, War Resisters League, Turn Toward Peace, and the World Without War Conference, Hefner was an energetic force in the movements for peace and disarmament, civil rights, and a more just economic system. He ran unsuccessfully for office in three elections between 1960 and 1964, and supported peace candidate H. Stuart Hughes in his bid for election to the U.S. Senate in 1962.

The Hefner papers offer a remarkable record of politically-engaged activism for peace and social justice in the early 1960s. With an intensely local focus, Hefner was tied in to the larger movements at the state and national level, corresponding with major figures such as A.J. Muste, Bayard Rustin, Benjamin Spock, and Arthur Springer. The collection includes particularly rich documentation of the early years of Political Action for Peace, which Hefner helped found, with correspondence, minutes of meetings, and publications, as well as equally rich materials on Hefner’s bids for congress in 1960 and 1962.

Subjects
  • American Friends Service Committee Western Massachusetts
  • Antinuclear movement--Massachusetts
  • Civil Rights movements--Massachusetts
  • Greenfield Community Peace Center
  • Massachusetts Political Action for Peace
  • Nonviolence
  • Pacifists--Massachusetts
  • Peace movements--Massachusetts
  • Platform for Peace (Organization)
  • Political Action for Peace
  • SANE, Inc
  • Turn Toward Peace (Organization)
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1960
  • United States. Congress--Elections, 1962
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975--Protest movements
Contributors
  • Boardman, Elizabeth F
  • Hefner, William K.
  • Hughes, H. Stuart (Henry Stuart), 1916-1999
  • Muste, Abraham John, 1885-1967
  • Rustin, Bayard, 1912-1987
  • Springer, Arthur
Types of material
  • Minutes

Stonewall Center

Stonewall Center Records
1962-2005
22 boxes (33 linear feet)
Call no.: RG 030/2/6

Following a series of homophobic incidents on the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 1985, the Program for Gay, Lesbian and Bisexual Concerns was established as an administrative center in the Office of Student Affairs. Later renamed after the notorious riots in New York, the Stonewall Center has provided the campus and surrounding community with cultural and educational programming through speakers, films, video and book library, Speakers Bureau on LGBTQ issues, referrals and support, advocacy and community outreach.

The records of the Stonewall Center include documentation of day to day operations, including phone logs, memos, and budget information, as well as posters and press releases for events, publications, campus and external reports, training manuals, surveys, newspaper clippings, and ephemera such as banners, tee-shirts, and buttons.

Subjects
  • Gay college students--Massachusetts
  • Gays--Services for
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Students
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst. Program for Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Concerns
Contributors
  • Stonewall Center
  • Yeskel, Felice

Austin, Samuel

Samuel Austin Collection
1718-1920
2 boxes (1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 937

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.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
  • Antislavery movements
  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
  • Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • 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
Contributors
  • Thornton, Elisha, 1748-1816
  • Wilbur, John 1774-1856
Types of material
  • Correspondence
  • Minutes (Administrative records)

Gould, Thomas

Thomas Gould, A list of the names of publick Friends, who have visited New England
1838
1 vol. (0.1 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 903 bd

Born in Middletown, R.I., on May 25, 1730, Thomas Gould was part of an extended Quaker family in Newport County and descendant of one of the first Quaker converts in Rhode Island. Enjoying success as a “mechanic” and farmer, according to Representative Men and Old Families of Rhode Island (1908), he married Alice Chase of Portsmouth in March 1757 and raised a large family of five boys and five girls. Gould died on May 3, 1795.

This slender volume includes a chronological record visits to New England by Public Friends: Quakers who were considered to have a special gift in prayer or public speaking and who often traveled widely to minister.

Subjects
  • Quakers--New England
Types of material
  • Booklets

Howland family

Howland Family Papers
1727-1886 (Bulk: 1771-1844)
2 boxes (0.75 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 923

The Howland family of East Greenwich, R.I., figured prominently in New England Quakerism during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and contributed to the state’s public affairs. Brothers Daniel (1754-1834), an approved minister, and Thomas Howland (1764-1845), an educator, were active members of the Society during the tumultuous years between the 1780s and 1840s, caught up in the moral demands for a response to slavery and other social issues and in the divisions wrought by evangelical influences.

Centered largely on the lives of Thomas Howland, his brother Daniel, and Daniel’s son Daniel, the Howland collection is an important record of Quaker life in Rhode Island during trying times. As meeting elders, the Howlands monitored and contributed to the era’s major controversies, and the collection is particularly rich in discussions of the impact of slavery and the passionate struggle between Friends influenced by the evangelically-inclined Joseph John Gurney and the orthodox John Wilbur. Thomas’ complex response to his commitment to the antislavery cause and his fear of disrupting meeting unity is particularly revealing. Also of note is a series of responses from monthly meetings to queries on compliance with Quaker doctrine, obtained during the decade after the American Revolution.

Subjects
  • Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
  • East Greenwich (R.I.)--History
  • Peace movements--Rhode Island
  • Temperance--Rhode Island
Contributors
  • Bassett, William, 1803-1871
  • Brown, Moses, 1738-1836
  • Friends' Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
  • Gurney, Joseph John, 1788-1847
  • Howland, Daniel
  • Howland, Daniel, 1754-1834
  • Howland, Thomas, 1764-1845
  • Moses Brown School
  • New England Yearly Meeting of Friends
  • Shearman, Abraham, 1777-1847
  • Society of Friends--Controversial literature
  • Society of Friends--History
  • Tobey, Samuel Boyd, 1805-1867
  • Wilbur, John, 1774-1856

Friends genealogy

Genealogists are the largest single group of researchers using the Friends records, but they often meet with frustration. One common misconception is that these records are neatly organized and indexed. While William W. Hinshaw’s Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy provided thorough indexes for the records of many yearly meetings, including New York, Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, the New England records have never been completely indexed. In most cases, the only access to information on New England Friends is usually a search of the records, either on microfilm or in the original. Here are some important points to remember for typical genealogical problems.

  1. It is important to know both place and time. If an individual moved around New England, it will be very helpful to sketch out a chronology of their travels.
  2. All vital records are recorded by the Monthly Meeting. You will need to determine which monthly meeting(s) your ancestor belonged to. If there is no monthly meeting named after their town, look it up in the index in the back of this book. Some towns held smaller meetings that were part of a larger nearby monthly meeting.
  3. If your ancestor’s town is not indexed, examine the maps on pages 12 to 14 of this guide. Were there any meetings nearby? Until the age of automobile travel, it is unlikely that many practicing Friends lived more than a few miles away from at least a worship group. Even if they did maintain the “Discipline” of Friends in a distant town, their vital records would probably not be recorded by a Monthly Meeting.
  4. If you are able to determine a probable Monthly Meeting, look at that meeting’s entry in the monthly meeting section. Check for vital records in the listing at the bottom of this entry. Are there any birth, death, marriage or membership records? Removals and denials are also useful (see glossary). Minutes are less useful for genealogy, but sometimes include marriage information, and occasionally memorials to the deceased.
  5. If the records that you want have been microfilmed, this will be indicated in the last column: “Film#”. This is the microfilm number at the Rhode Island Historical Society Library. An asterisk indicates that it can also be found at the Maine Historical Society Library, and a plus sign indicates that it can be ordered from the Family History Centers operated by the Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). An @ symbol indicates that the film is available through the Nantucket Historical Association.
  6. If the records have not been microfilmed, you will need to consult the originals, most of which are at UMass Amherst. The location of originals is given in the “Loc.” column. Please note that a complete set of microfilm is available for consultation at the Rhode Island Historical Society.
  7. If you are researching early Friends (pre-Revolutionary), it is likely that you will not discover anything new in the vital records. Friends records have always been a major resource for colonial genealogy, and have been consulted for most of the major reference works that you have already looked at. It is, however, possible to find new information in meeting minutes, to verify membership or residence in a location.

For further information, Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding Them in Quaker Records by Ellen Thomas Berry and David Allen Berry (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 1987) is a book-length treatment of general approaches to Quaker genealogy.

Friends of Tully Lake

Friends of Tully Lake Records
1976-2008
1 box (0.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 977

In October 2003, a group of residents from the North Quabbin region in Massachusetts came together to oppose plans to develop a large tract overlooking the southeast shore of Tully Lake. Concerned about the environmental and social impact of the proposed development and asserting the rights of the towns and residents affected to have a say, the Friends of Tully Lake waged a five-year campaign that ultimately succeeded in convincing the Board of Planning in the town of Athol to reject the proposal.

The records of the Friends of Tully Lake document a successful grassroots initiative to prevent private development on a lake in the North Quabbin region. Maintained by Aaron Ellison and Elizabeth Farnsworth, leaders in the Friends, the collection includes notes and minutes of Friends’ meetings, communication with environmental consultants, exchanges with the Athol Planning Board, and some background information environmental regulations in Massachusetts.

Gift of Aaron Ellison, May 2017.
Subjects
  • Athol (Mass.)--History
  • Dream Tim Builders and Developers
  • Environmentalism--Massachusetts
  • Real estate development--Environmental aspects--Massachusetts
  • Tully Lake (Royalston, Mass.)
Contributors
  • Dream Time Builders and Developers
  • Ellison, Aaron M., 1960-
  • Farnsworth, Elizabeth
Types of material
  • Aerial photographs
  • Maps
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