All That Dwell in the Light: 350 Years of Quakers in New England
Closing August 18, 2017
The UMass Amherst Libraries exhibit “All That Dwell in the Light: 350 Years of Quakers in New England,” closes August 18, 2017, in the W.E.B. Du Bois Library, both on the Lower Level and in Special Collections and University Archives (SCUA), on Floor 25.
The exhibit examines the history of Quakers and Quakerism in New England drawing upon the extraordinary records of the New England Yearly Meeting of the Society of Friends (NEYM).
Containing nearly 400 linear feet of archival records and thousands of books and pamphlets, the Collection was donated to SCUA in 2016. Quakers, also known as Friends, have a long and dynamic history in New England. When they first arrived in the region in the1650s, they presented both a radical alternative and a significant challenge to Puritan orthodoxy, espousing an egalitarian ethos rooted in the Quaker concept of inward light. Over the centuries, this egalitarian vision has led Friends into passionate advocacy for the abolition of slavery, gender and racial equality, and opposition to all war.
One of approximately two dozen yearly meetings in the United States, the NEYM currently comprises eight quarterly meetings and approximately 85 monthly meetings, which are the basic unit of organization for the Society of Friends. As in other yearly meetings, a diversity of spiritual practice in the NEYM has resulted in a history of separations and reunions. Most famously, New England Friends divided over doctrinal issues in the 1840s into separate Gurneyite and Wilburite meetings, and these remained separate for a century before the rifts
The New England Yearly Meeting Collection contains the official records of the NEYM 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; 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. In addition, there is information on removals (formal letters written as members moved from one meeting to another), denials, testimonies (beliefs and convictions), and sufferings (penalties Quakers suffered for adhering to their faith).
The Collection also includes several thousand Quaker books and pamphlets, including the libraries of Moses and Obadiah Brown and notes from several individual monthly meetings. The collection is open to researchers and digitized selections from the collection are available at bit.ly/QuakerCollection in SCUA’s online repository, credo.library.umass.edu.