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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This miscellaneous assortment of letters was apparently set aside by the staff at the Moses Brown School due to their historical content and preserved in the “vault.”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

1633-2018
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
Noble, David F.

David F. Noble Papers

1977-2010
15 boxes 21 linear feet
Call no.: MS 879

David F. Noble was a critical and highly influential historian of technology, science, and education, writing from a strong leftist perspective. Receiving his doctorate at the University of Rochester, Noble began his academic career at MIT. His first book, America By Design (1977), received strong reviews for its critique of the corporate control of science and technology, but proved too radical for MIT, which denied him tenure despite strong support from his peers. A stint at the Smithsonian followed, but ended similarly, and he continued to face opposition in his career for his radicalism and persistence. After several years at Drexel (1986-1994), Noble landed at York University, where he remained committed to a range of social justice issues, including opposition to the corporatization of universities. Among his major works Forces of Production (1984), A World Without Women (1992), The Religion of Technology (1997), Digital Diploma Mills (2001), and Beyond the Promised Land (2005). Noble died of complications of pneumonia in December 2010, and was survived by his wife Sarah Dopp and three daughters.

The challenges of academic freedom and corporate influence that Noble confronted throughout his career, and his trenchant analysis of technology, science, and religion in contemporary culture, form the core of this collection. Although the files relating to his first book were mostly lost, each of his later books is well represented, accompanied by general correspondence, documentation of his lawsuits against his employers, and selective public talks and publications. Noble’s time at York is particularly well documented, including content relating to his principled stand against grading students.

Gift of Sarah Dopp, Aug. 2015
Subjects
Academic freedom
Corporatization
Massachusetts Institute of Technology--Faculty
Science--Social aspects
Technology--Social aspects
York University--Faculty
Obadiah Brown’s 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
Panus, Mary Lou

Mary Lou Panus Polish American Collection

1895-1997
3 boxes 1.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 378

Mary Lou Panus documented Polish American life in Massachusetts by collecting newspaper clippings, business cards, programs, and Polish language prayer books and prayer cards.

The Panus collection includes photographs of Polish churches in Massachusetts, reflecting the important role religion played in the culture and in various communities. The collection also includes a doll dressed as a nun.

Subjects
Polish Americans--Massachusetts
Contributors
Panus, Mary Lou
Peck Family

Peck-Sisson-White Family Papers

1772-1975 Bulk: 1830-1875
2 boxes 0.75 linear feet
Call no.: MS 933

Perez Peck (1786-1876) and Asa Sisson (1815-1893) of the village of Anthony (Coventry), R.I., were innovative machinists and manufacturers of cotton looms. Active members of the Society of Friends, they were supporters of the antislavery struggle and sent their children to the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I.

Although the Peck-Sisson-White family collection spans three families and three generations, the bulk of material is concentrated on the lives of Asa Sisson and his wife Mary Ann (Peck) and their daughter Emily, who married Willis H. White, with an emphasis on their poetry and their time at the Friends Boarding School in Providence, R.I. The family also copied verse from other writers, including works from George Miller (not otherwise identified) extracting Anthony Benezet and “Remarks on encouraging slavery” and a “lamentation over New England” which touches on the execution of early Quakers in Massachusetts Bay.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
Death--Poetry
Friends Boarding School (Providence, R.I.)
Quakers--Rhode Island
Contributors
Peck, Perez, 1786-1876
Sisson, Asa, 1815-1893
Sisson, Mary Ann, 1816-1882
White, Emily Sisson, 1856-1945
Types of material
Diaries
Poetry
Pelczynski, Walter, 1916-2000

Walter Pelczynski Papers

1983
1 envelope 0.25 linear feet
Call no.: MS 148 bd

Walter Pelczynski was a native of Adams, Massachusetts and the second native-born American to be ordained by the Congregation of Marians, which has its roots in Poland. He served as head of the Marians at Eden Hill in Stockbridge, Massachusetts for many years.

Included in this small collection is a photocopy of Pelczynski’s typewritten memoirs, written in 1983, that cover the years 1934 to 1983.

Father Walter Pelczynski, via Rev. Charles Jan Di Mascola and Stanley Radosh, 1987
Subjects
Catholic Church--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--History
Marian Fathers. St. Stanislaus Kostka Province
Polish Americans--Massachusetts--Stockbridge
Stockbridge (Mass.)--Biography
Superiors, Religious--Massachusetts--Stockbridge--Biography
Contributors
Pelczynski, Walter, 1916-2000
Types of material
Autobiographies
Perry, Henry H.

Henry H. Perry Papers

1940-1942
4 boxes 2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 1019

A Quaker investment broker and attorney, Henry H. Perry was born in Rhode Island in about 1885. A prominent figure in the New England Yearly Meeting, Perry was called upon by the American Friends Service Committee to act as director of three of the Massachusetts Civilian Public Service Camps: Royalston, Petersham, and Ashburnham. Under the Selective Service Act of 1940, negotiations between the Selective Service and the major peace churches resulted in the creation of a system by which conscientious objectors were allowed to refrain from direct participation in the war, by serving instead in Civilian Public Service camps. Assigned to “work of national importance,” they filled in for war-related manpower shortages in a variety of areas, including the Forest Service, Soil Conservation Service, and mental hospitals. Living in Petersham with his wife Edith, Perry served as director of the camps from June 1941 until they were discontinued in October 1942.

This collection consists of administrative and business records concerning the start up, operation, and shut down of the AFSC-run CPS Camps in Royalston, Ashburnham, and Petersham, Mass. Camp Directors were under mandatory orders to keep the strict records that make up the bulk of this collection—administrative documentation, correspondences, health records, itineraries, financial reports and budgets, all pertaining to camp operations. This documentation acted as a deliberate gesture, demonstrating the competency and legitimacy of CPS camp work to Selective Service authorities. However, this collection also contains some personal correspondence and notes not directly related to camp administration, that give a personal, everyday-life, glimpse at the stresses, struggles, and emotional labor, on the part of Quakers, who had to step up, come together, and make the best of a terrible situation: protecting and caring for conscientious objectors during a time of war.

Subjects
American Friends Service Committee. Civilian Public Service
Peace movements--Massachusetts
World War, 1939-1945--Conscientious objectors
Types of material
Newsletters
Politella Family

Politella Family Papers

1915-2004 Bulk: 1938-1956
2 boxes 3 linear feet
Call no.: MS 885
Depiction of Dario, Antonio, Lillian, and Joseph Politella in Amherst, ca.1930
Dario, Antonio, Lillian, and Joseph Politella in Amherst, ca.1930

When Antonio Politella emigrated from Italy to Lawrence, Mass., in 1910, he joined an older half-brother Walter Pollano, but left behind his wife and infant son. Working as a pharmacist under Pollano, Politella was successful enough to reunite his family in 1919, and eventually raised a family of three, all of whom went on to earn undergraduate degrees at Massachusetts State College and dedicate their lives to education. The eldest child, Joseph (’33), served in the Army Air Corps during the Second World War, earned a PhD in philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, and taught in eastern religions at Kent State University. Lillian (’42) became a French teacher, while Dario (’47), an aviator during the war, earned his doctorate at Syracuse and taught journalism at UMass Amherst for many years.

The Politella family collection contains correspondence received primarily by Lillian Politella (’42), the bulk of which reflects the impact on the war on both her family and college. Among the letters are dozens written by her brothers Joseph (’33) and Dario (’47) and friend Donald W. Cadigan (’39) while in the service, which are joined by an evocative series from their teacher and mentor, Ray Ethan Torrey. Torrey’s letters in particular offer insight into Mass. State College during and after the war and are replete with news about acquaintances and complaints about liberals and current events.

Gift of Norma E. Parras, Nov. 2015
Subjects
Buddhism--Study and teaching
Hinduism--Study and teaching
Massachusetts State College--History
Massachusetts State College--Students
Mysticism
Theosophy
World War, 1939-1945
Contributors
Politella, Dario
Politella, Joseph
Politella, V. Lillian
Torrey, Ray Ethan, 1887-1956
Types of material
Photograph albums
Photographs
Scrapbooks
Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade

Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave-Trade Minute Book

1789-1827
1 vol. 0.2 linear feet
Call no.: MS 935

Founded in 1789, the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade was an early antislavery organization forged in the unique political and social climate of post-Revolutionary Rhode Island. An interdenominational organization with a membership comprised largely of Quakers, the Society served as a self-appointed watchdog for violations of the act abolishing the slave trade and they provided funds to prosecute violators and to support African Americans fighting for their rights in state courts. The Society lay essentially dormant from 1793 to 1824 , when it was revived as an all-purpose antislavery organization, and it appears to have ceased operations in 1827.

The minute book of the Providence Society for Abolishing the Slave Trade are an essentially complete record of the organization’s formal meetings. The volume begins by laying out the organization’s constitution and includes listings of officers and members and summary records of their activities.

Gift of New England Yearly Meeting of Friends, 2016
Subjects
African Americans--Rhode Island
Antislavery movements--Rhode Island
Providence (R.I.)--History
Quakers--Rhode Island
Contributors
Brown, Moses, 1738-1832
Howell, David, 1747-1824
Types of material
Minute books