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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

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 history

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

Two girls in carriage, Quabbin region, ca.1910

SCUA is dedicated to documenting New England history, including primary materials relating to the political, cultural, economic, and intellectual life of our region, and the lives and experiences of its residents.

The collections in SCUA touch on many aspects of the history of the region with developing depth in immigration, labor, work, and industry, social change and movements for social change, and literature and the arts. Of particular note are two exceptionally large and rich collections: the records of the Hampshire Council of Governments, which contains over 325 years of county-level governance in western Massachusetts, and the records of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, which contains 350 years of Quaker history.

The recent political history of the region is documented through the papers of congressmen Silvio O. Conte and his successor John Olver, Governor Jane Swift, state Senator Stanley Rosenberg, state representatives John G. Clark, Maurice Donahue, Whiting Griswold, and John Haigis, and other figures involved in the political life of the Commonwealth.

In addition to holding material relating to many individual towns and communities in western Massachusetts, SCUA maintains a special interest in the history of the towns of the Quabbin watershed.

Significant collections

  • Business and industry
    • In addition to collections relating to organized labor and the labor movement, SCUA attempts to document the experience of work and the business community to provide a rounded understanding of work life in New England. For a more complete listing, see our guide for Labor, Work, and Industry.
  • Civic organizations and charities
    • Collections ranging from the records of charitable organizations that provide social services to groups that foster civic engagement and social justice, benevolent and ethnic self-help societies, to organizations that support social and professional communities.
  • Family history
    • SCUA has a strong interest in “family collections,” typically collections that include correspondence, photograph albums, family and farm accounts, and other materials that reveal the every day lives of New Englanders. Researchers on family life and genealogy should note that many collections indexed under other subjects contain personal and family information of some importance. Our printed materials collections include many local and county histories, genealogies, and other resources which may be useful for understanding family life.
  • Immigration, demography, and ethnicity
  • Medical history
    • Collections include daybooks and medical accounts of physicians, primarily from the nineteenth century, personal papers of physicians, and some materials on public health policy.
  • Military history
    • Although SCUA has scattered holdings relating to earlier wars, the department houses interesting materials relating to World War II and the War in Vietnam, with the latter concentrated on the antiwar movement.
  • Political life and culture
    • The distinctive political culture of Massachusetts and formal and informal political activity in the Commonwealth. Although the collections extend back into the nineteenth century, our focus is primarily on the post-World War II period.
  • Printing in rural Massachusetts
    • SCUA collects books, broadsides, and other materials printed in rural New England prior to 1900. The collections include a growing collection for the printers in the Quabbin region, Solomon and John Howes, but also includes works printed in small towns throughout Berkshire, Hampshire, Hamden, and Franklin Counties.
  • Quabbin Regional collections
    • Collections relating to all aspects of life and the legacy of the four towns inundated by the Quabbin Reservoir: Dana, Greenwich, Enfield, and Prescott, as well as surrounding communities such as New Salem, Petersham, and Wendell. In our rare books holdings, we have a number of works printed in Enfield or Greenwich, mostly by Solomon and John Howe.
  • Religious life
    • Our efforts to document the spiritual lives and religious commitments of New Englanders has resulted in a number of manuscript and archival collections. Our social change holdings include a number of collections on spiritually-motivated social reform, and our rare book holdings include hundreds of published sermons and other printed materials relating to religious life in the region.
  • New England regional history

Learn more:

New England Historical Association

New England Historical Association Records
1965-1999
13 boxes (6.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 352
Image of NEHA meeting, Holy Cross College, April 1982
NEHA meeting, Holy Cross College, April 1982

The New England Historical Association, the regional branch of the American Historical Association, was founded in 1965 in an informal meeting at the University of Connecticut. The purpose of the NEHA is to serve the interests of New England historians of all levels: professional, academic, or amateur. These interests include a means to share their research and work, learn about history resources that are available to them for personal study or teaching, or simply to meet socially. NEHA aims to maintain the pursuit of history through both regional and national dimensions.

This collection holds the records of the New England Historical Association including an organizational history, constitution and meeting minutes, correspondence, financial records, membership lists, committee reports, meeting programs, and newsletters.

Subjects
  • History--Study and teaching
Contributors
  • American Historical Association
  • New England Historical Association
  • New England History Teachers' Association
Types of material
  • Photographs

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League Records
1893-1977
9 boxes (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 331

When Charles Marsters founded the Boston Lacrosse Club in 1913, the club was the only one in New England to play teams from outside of the region. Under Marsters’s leadership, however, participation in the sport rose steadily at both the high school and collegiate level, helping establish New England as one of the centers of the American game. In 1935, he and Tom Dent founded the New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League (NEILL) to continue to build the sport.

The NEILL records document the growth of lacrosse from informal club team play to a more regulated, interscholastic and intercollegiate varsity sport. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence, minutes, and agendas kept by co-founder Charles Marsters and a handful of other NEILL officers, but with material documenting the growth of the sport at UMass Amherst from the 1950s onward and the addition of women’s lacrosse as a collegiate sport. The collection also includes some printed material (including rulebooks), news clippings, and photographs.

Subjects
  • College sports--New England
  • Lacrosse for women--United States
  • Lacrosse guide
  • Lacrosse--New England--History
  • School sports--New England
  • University of Massachusetts Amherst--Sports
Contributors
  • Boyden, Frank L. (Frank Learoyd), 1879-1972
  • Marsters, Charles E
  • New England Intercollegiate Lacrosse League

New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Regional Planning Commission Collection
1935-1943
3 boxes (1.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 069

Organized in March 1934, the New England Regional Planning Commission was a coalition of state planning boards intended as a permanent, non-partisan, representative body. Charged with the continuous coordination, review, and revision of state plans, the Commission coordinated research and physical planning relating to transportation (including the highway system and airports), interstate water resources, land utilization, conservation of forests and wildlife, and recreational facilities.

This small collection consists of printed reports, bulletins, and minutes from the NERPC from its founding through middle of the Second World War. Ephemeral in nature, the reports chart the growth of regional cooperation in planning in the use of water and land resources and the transportation system, spurred by the federal New Deal.

Subjects
  • Airports--New England
  • New England--Economic conditions
  • Regional planning--New England
  • Roads--New England
  • Transportation--New England
  • Water-supply--New England
Contributors
  • New England Regional Planning Commission

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply Records
1922-1955
3 boxes (1.25 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 028

The New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply was established after a 1922 meeting in which Lloyd Tenny of the Agricultural Economics Bureau disclosed that federal money was available for research in marketing. He requested that an advisory council be organized to prevent the duplication of research. The group’s charge was to stimulate and coordinate the studies of economic problems connected with the supply of foods and other agricultural products of New England. Membership of the council was comprised of representatives from institutions and agencies actively involved in prosecuting such economic studies. A number of faculty at the Massachusetts Agricultural College helped to shape the council in its early years, including Kenyon Butterfield and Alexander Cance. The council dissolved in 1955, and the New England Agricultural Economics Council was formed in its place.

The collection contains the records of the NERC from its formation in 1922 until its dissolution in 1955. Included are the council’s constitution adopted in 1922 and unaltered throughout the life of the organization, proceedings of annual meetings, publications, and reports on such topics as milk marketing and fruit and vegetable marketing.

Subjects
  • Agricultural economics--New England
  • Dairy products--Marketing--New England
  • Food industry and trade--New England
  • Food--Marketing--New England
Contributors
  • Butterfield, Kenyon L. (Kenyon Leech), 1868-1935
  • Cance, Alexander E
  • New England Research Council on Marketing and Food Supply

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)

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

Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund

Obadiah Brown's Benevolent Fund Records
1814-2015
3 boxes, 7 vols. (5.5 linear feet)
Call no.: MS 956

Upon his death in 1822, Obadiah Brown bequeathed $100,000 from his sizable estate to support the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I., with much of the rest endowing a charitable fund that bears his name. A committed Quaker and philanthropist like his father Moses, Obadiah stipulated that the annual income from his benevolent fund be directed “principally for the benefit of our religious society” and assist in spreading “our Religious Principles where they are little known.” Independent of the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends and administered by twelve trustees, the Fund over the years has supported Quaker education, the publication and distribution of religious literature, and other projects that provide “benefits to the Religious Society,” including work in peace and social justice. The Trustees also administer a separate fund with similar purpose established by 1914 bequest from Sarah J. Swift.

Beginning with records documenting the establishment of the Benevolent Fund, the collection documents nearly two centuries of philanthropic support for Quaker causes. In addition to copies of Brown’s will and the incorporating documents and by-laws, the collection includes a nearly comprehensive set of Trustees’ minutes and treasurer’s reports, with some supporting documents.

Gift of the Obadiah Brown Benevolent Fund, Mar. 2017
Subjects
  • Charities--New England
  • Society of Friends--Charities
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