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The Quakers

By Hugh Barbour; J. William Frost | Go to book overview

PREFACE

This book on Quakers in America, a survey of the movement from 1650 to 1987, is written for college students, scholars, and others seeking to understand the origins and evolution of the Society of Friends. Like the other volumes in this series, Part Two provides biographies of those people whose lives and actions particularly shaped American Quakerism. We have omitted equally important Friends in Europe, Asia, and Africa as well as all those still alive in 1988. We include also maps showing the growth of American Quakerism to 1890 and a chart of Yearly Meeting membership mainly since that date (also a date chart for clarity).

After initial chapters dealing with the genesis and early events and outlooks of Friends in seventeenth-century England, this book turns to colonial America and later mainly to the United States. British Quakers since 1700 are mentioned only for their impact on American Friends. The last comprehensive book on American Quaker history was printed in 1942. Since then more than a hundred scholars have explored many facets of Quaker life. This book covers all major branches of American Quakerism and is the first attempt to synthesize their twentieth-century trends and their relation to developments in the wider American culture. Friends have confronted more openly than most churches the new problems raised by war, slavery, revolution, migration, and social injustice and have felt free to share in worship experiences and doctrines of non-Quaker evangelicals and liberals. They do not always know how much they absorbed at each stage from non-Quakers. We first summarize the life of the Quaker community and then look more widely at the times and cultures in which they lived.

This book has been a collaborative work, but most chapters on English and midwestern Friends were drafted by Hugh Barbour and those on colonial and northeastern America by J. William Frost. We acknowledge gratefully those who helped us: The Rowntree Trust and Woodbrooke College in England gave Barbour a grant and hospitality for autumn 1982 to review recent work on

-xiii-

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