Collecting area: Religion

Sufi Order International

Abode of the Message Collection

1975-2012
1 box 1.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 780

Founded in 1975 by Pir Vilayat Inayat Khan, The Abode of the Message is the headquarters for members of the Sufi Order International. Sitting on 430 acres, formerly the site of a Shaker Village in New Lebanon, New York, the Abode was settled by 75 adults and 20 children coming from all over the United States. The Sufi Order initiates spent the first several months preparing for the arrival of winter, a task that required much effort since buildings were in need of repair, there was no central heating system or updated electrical wiring, and few bathrooms. Within a year, the community prospered with the establishment of woodworking, stained glass, and sewing shops, a bakery, and a small school. Today, the community is smaller in number, but their mission remains the same: to collectively embody spiritual awakening.

The collection consists chiefly of publications produced by the Abode, including two newsletters Connections and The Messenger dating from the 1970s to the present. Also represented are other Sufi Order publications, such as Heart & Wing and Mureed’s Newsletter.

Subjects

Sufi Order International
Swansea Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends)

Swansea Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends) Records

1708-1953
29 vols., 2 boxes 5.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 902 S936

Quaker worship began at Swansea, Mass., by 1701, under the care of Rhode Island Monthly Meeting, with the Swansea Monthly Meeting being set off in 1732. Situated in an area with a relatively large Quaker population, Swansea oversaw worship groups and preparative meetings in nearby Fall River, Freetown, Somerset, Taunton, and Troy. Swansea was divided by the separation of 1845, with the Wilburite meeting persisting for about twenty years.

The records of Swansea Monthly Meeting are a rich assemblage of meeting minutes, vital records, and other materials, covering nearly two and a half centuries of Quaker activity on Cape Cod. The collection also includes records of the Fall River and Swansea Preparative Meetings.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, April 2016

Subjects

Quakers--MassachusettsSociety of Friends--MassachusettsSwansea (Mass.)--Religious life and customs

Contributors

Fall River Preparative Meeting (Society of Friends)New England Yearly Meeting of FriendsSwansea Preparative Meeting (Society of Friends)

Types of material

Minutes (Administrative records)Vital records (Document genre)
Swansea Monthly Meeting of Friends (Wilburite : 1844-1865)

Swansea Monthly Meeting of Friends (Wilburite) Records

1844-1865
5 vols. 1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 902 W553 S936

The Separation of 1845 that affected the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends was profoundly felt throughout Rhode Island and Cape Cod. The meeting at Swansea, Mass., split in 1844, with the Wilburite Monthly of that name becoming part of the Rhode Island Quarterly Meeting. In 1863, Swansea Monthly was laid down, with the Fall River Preparative Meeting transferring to Providence Monthly Meeting (Wilburite). A small number of Friends in Swansea rejected the decision to lay down the meeting and continued to meet as an independent body until 1865.

The short history of the Wilburite Swansea Monthly Meeting in four slender volumes of meeting minutes (one from the women’s meeting) and a thin records of marriages.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, April 2016

Subjects

Quakers--MassachusettsSociety of Friends--MassachusettsSwansea (Mass.)--Religious life and customsWilburites

Contributors

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Types of material

Minutes (Administrative records)Vital records (Document genre)
Swift, Sarah J.

Sarah J. Swift Papers

1890-1942
1 box 0.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 932

A Quaker and philanthropist from Worcester, Mass., Sarah J. Swift was a noted supporter of Friends’ missions in Palestine and Jamaica for over half a century. The wife of D. Wheeler Swift, an innovator in the manufacture of envelopes, Swift began to support the Friends’ foreign missions by the 1890s, becoming a major benefactor of the Eli and Sibyl Jones Mission and girls’ school in Ramallah and of the small Quaker mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica.

The Swift papers contain a thick series of letters from the Society of Friends’ Eli and Sybil Jones Mission in Ramallah, Palestine, documenting their activity between 1890 and 1942, with a much smaller series of letters relating to the mission at Buff Bay, Jamaica. The missionaries’ letters — including circular letters to supporters and others addressed to Swift personally — discuss school operations and local affairs in Palestine and Jamaica. Of particular note are letters discussing the work at Ramallah around the turn of the twentieth century and several letters discussing the hardships of wartime and recovery from war.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016

Subjects

Eli and Sybil Jones Mission (Ramallah, Palestine)Jamaica--History--20th centuryMissionaries--JamaicaMissionaries--PalestinePalestine--History--20th centuryWorld War, 1914-1918World War, 1939-1945

Contributors

Jones, Alice W.Kelsey, A. EdwardVincent, Charles S.
Towle, Gifford H.

Gifford H. and Marjorie B. Towle Papers

1970-1987 Bulk: 1945-1980
24 boxes 33 linear feet
Call no.: MS 881
Depiction of Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957
Gifford and Marjorie Towle, 1957

As a student at Mount Hermon School in the late 1920s, Gifford Hoag Towle met Marjorie Ripley Blossom, a young woman at the Northfield School for Girls. When Giff went on to the Massachusetts Agricultural College (BS 1932) and Marjorie to a midwestern Bible College for a year (before being called home due to a family crisis), they remained connected and after Giff’s graduation in 1932, they married. By the time that Giff graduated from Hartford Seminary, he had left his Quaker upbringing to enter the Congregationalist ministry, and he and Marjorie filled three pulpits near Pelham, Mass. In 1939, however, they were called by the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to serve as missionaries in the American Marathi Mission in Maharashtra State, central India. Following two years of intensive study of the Marathi language in Ahmednagar, they settled in Vadala, a rural village on the semi-arid plains, where they worked for thirty-four years, counting furloughs. In 1946 on furlough in the U.S., Giff earned a master’s degree in agricultural engineering from Cornell while pastoring a small church in the suburbs of Ithaca. In his agricultural work in India, Giff used the mission farm to demonstrate crop diversity and farm animal improvement; created co-operatives to enable poor farmers to use appropriate modern tools and machinery for pennies; taught good irrigation and soil conservation; and later built a Mechanical Unit and trained local Indians as mechanics to repair machinery and drill wells. Giff also invented a pump for which he never filed a patent, wanting instead to make it as widely available as possible. He built networks with relatives, churches, and non-profits to fund these efforts and get supplies.

The Towle Collection contains a wealth of information for research in three distinct areas: missions and religious matters; agriculture in “developing” countries; and the cultural and socio-economic context of social change in rural India. The Towles’ voluminous correspondence and reports offer a particularly rich view into mission life in India, including American participation through churches, relations between Hindus and Christians or between Christians, and the viability of these efforts. Marjorie’s letters are particularly vivid, adding significantly to our understanding of mission lives and experiences. The collection is equally rich in revealing the impact of the Towles’ agricultural work and for study of the efficacy of government agencies and non-profits seeking to understand cross-cultural issues.

Gift of Jean Reed, 2015

Subjects

Agriculture--IndiaIndia--Description and travelMaharasthra (India)--Economic conditionsMissionaries--India

Contributors

Towle, Marjorie Blossom, 1907-1994

Types of material

Photographs
Traprock Peace Center

Traprock Peace Center Records

1979-2008
ca.50 boxes 75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 080

The Traprock Peace Center is a grassroots organization based in Deerfield, Massachusetts, that trains and educates people locally and globally in matters relating to disarmament and nonviolence. In 1980, the Center organized the first successful attempt in the United States to get a nuclear weapons moratorium referendum on the ballot, and the Center has served as a focal point for organizing on a wide array of issues in peace and social and environmental justice.

The records of Traprock Peace Center include correspondence, campaign materials (resolutions, organizing committee records, legislative packets), program reports, newsletters, newsclippings, and posters relating to the nuclear freeze campaign and many subsequent initiatives. Recent additions to the collection document the group’s work to end the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; these later additions are open for research, but are not processed.

Subjects

Antinuclear movement--MassachusettsDeerfield (Mass.)--Social conditions--SourcesNonviolence--Massachusetts--History--SourcesNuclear disarmament--History--SourcesPacifists--MassachusettsPolitical activists--Massachusetts

Contributors

Traprock Peace Center
Restrictions: unprocessed materials in this collection have been temporarily moved offsite; these boxes are closed to research. Contact SCUA for more information.
Turner, Abel

Abel Turner, The Life and Travels of Abel Turner

1839
451p. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 708 bd

As a young man in Foxcroft, Maine, Abel Turner was caught up in the evangelical revivals and converted to Free Will Baptism, becoming a minister by the age of 21. Beginning in the backwoods settlements, Turner spent the better part of a decade attempting to “convert sinners” in Piscataquis and Penobscot Counties and the in the Burned-Over District of New York state, from Utica to Penn Yan and Cattaraugus County.

Written for his wife, Abel Turner’s long and detailed autobiography is a remarkable record of a young Free Will Baptist minister’s labors during the Second Great Awakening. Beginning with his childhood in Maine and his conversion experience, the manuscript provides insight into Turner’s experiences preaching in the rough-hewn interior settlements of Maine and the Burned-Over District of New York from roughly 1821 through 1839. In addition to some wonderful commentary on evangelical religion in the heart of the Awakening and on Turner’s own spiritual development, the memoir includes fascinating descriptions of the towns and people he met along the way.

Subjects

Free Will Baptists (1727-1935)--ClergyMaine--History--19th centuryNew York (State)--History--19th centurySecond Great Awakening--Maine--HistorySecond Great Awakening--New York (State)--History

Contributors

Turner, Abel

Types of material

Autobiographies
United Congregational Church of Holyoke (Holyoke, Mass.)

United Congregational Church of Holyoke (Holyoke, Mass.) Records

ca.1830-1990
9 boxes 13.5 linear feet
Call no.: MS 787
Depiction of First Congregational Church, ca.1910
First Congregational Church, ca.1910

The present day United Congregational Church of Holyoke is the product of complex history of growth and consolidation of five separate churches responding to the changing demographics and spiritual needs of the city. Established in 1799, the First Congregational Church in Holyoke was initially a small congregation perched above the floodplain south of the center of town, sharing preachers with the equally sparse population of Baptists until the establishment of the First Baptist Church in 1826. The First Congregational Church was finally erected in 1838, and ten years later, the Second Church was established in to serve the needs of the growing Protestant population in the city center, building their own church in 1853 as the mill economy was booming. Reaching out to the millworkers, members of the Second Church opened the Grace Mission in 1870, which spun off into its own church in 1896. Skinner Chapel was founded in 1909 as an addition to the Second Congregational Church, dedicated to the prominent Skinner family. Finally, the German Reformed Church was organized in 1892, though meetings were held years earlier. In the latter part of the twentieth century, however, declining memberships in each of these churches led to a series of mergers, beginning in 1961 when the German Reformed Church united with the First Congregational to become the First United Congregational Church. Grace Church and the First UCC merged in 1973 to become Grace United, and in 1996, Grace joined with the Second Congregational Church to become the present UCC of Holyoke.

The records of the UCC of Holyoke document over 200 years of the ecclesiatical history of an industrial city. In addition to records of membership, baptisms, marriages, and church governance, the collection includes valuable records of the women’s missionary society, the German Maenner Bund, and a long run of church newsletters that offer insight into the weekly course of events in the religious community. Materials relating to Skinner Chapel are part of the collections of Wistariahurst Museum.

Subjects

Congregational churches--Massachusetts--HolyokeHolyoke (Mass.)--Religious life and customsMissionaries--Massachusetts

Contributors

First Congregational Church (Holyoke, Mass.)German Reformed Church (Holyoke, Mass.)Grace Church (Holyoke, Mass.)Second Congregational Church (Holyoke, Mass.)

Types of material

NewslettersPhotographs
Upper Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends)

Upper Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends) Records

1957-1959
1 folder 0.1 linear feet
Call no.: MS 902 U674

In about 1954, a number of local Quaker meetings and worship groups in Vermont and New Hampshire coalesced to form the independent Vermont and New Hampshire Friends, which joined the New England Yearly Meeting of Friends in 1956 as the Upper Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting. A loose confederation based in Woodstock, Vt., it included groups in Burlington, Hanover, Middlebury, Rockingham, Rutland, and Springfield during the brief period of existence. In 1959, the Upper Connecticut Valley Meeting was supplanted by the new Northwest Quarter.

This small but interesting collection contains an apparently complete run of newsletters from the evanescent Upper Connecticut Valley Monthly Meeting.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, April 2016

Subjects

Quakers--VermontSociety of Friends--VermontWoodstock (Vt.)--Religious life and customs

Contributors

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Types of material

Newsletters
Uxbridge Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends)

Uxbridge Monthly Meeting (Society of Friends) Records

1783-1898
12 vols. 2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 902 U937

Located in Uxbridge, Mass., on the border with Rhode Island, Uxbridge Monthly Meeting was formally established in 1783. During the nineteenth century, this Quaker meeting was home to well-known abolitionists Abby Kelley Foster and Effingham Capron, but it declined in membership by 1900 and changed name to Worcester Monthly Meeting in 1907. A worship group currently meets in the historic Uxbridge Meetinghouse.

A small but important Quaker meeting, Uxbridge Monthly is documented by over a century of minutes, vital records, and other materials. The interrelated collections for Worcester and Pleasant Street Monthly Meetings are described separately.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, April 2016

Subjects

Quakers--MassachusettsSociety of Friends--MassachusettsUxbridge (Mass.)--Religious life and customs

Contributors

New England Yearly Meeting of Friends

Types of material

Minutes (Administrative records)Vital records (Document genre)