Quakers and the American Family: British Settlement in the Delaware Valley

By Barry Levy | Go to book overview

Preface

This book began as an effort to describe Quaker families and communities that left seventeenth-century northwestern England and settled and developed colonial southeastern Pennsylvania. I hope the final product retains evidence of its origins as a trans-Atlantic study of a significant cohort of religious people and their descendants. As I researched this topic, I did become increasingly touched by the psychological insight, devotion to emotional truth, and exquisite, interpersonal morality of the farmers I was studying. During the course of this research, I have made every effort to understand both intellectually and emotionally the religious ideas and experiences of these Friends. While focusing on Friends' familial and economic life in the following work, I have positioned the Friends' religious experience as the central reality around which all their familial and social ideas developed. On the other hand, this is not an uncritical work. Whether biased by professional commitment or my own cultural heritage, I have remained skeptical about the ability of human beings to embody divine truth within the contingencies of daily life, especially without external, authoritative institutions.

Yet, from the early stages of research, I implicitly and then explicitly enlarged my purposes. Among the voluminous records of Chester County and Welsh Tract Friends at Swarthmore College, I found a book of seventeenth-century removal certificates, descrip

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