Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Earlham Friends Collection and Archives

Earlham College Director of Special Collections Tom Hamm invites you to explore the Friends Collection:

            The Friends Collection is one of the three or four best collections of Quaker materials in North America, and one of the five or six best in the world. From  a foundation of 400 Quaker books and pamphlets (350 of which are still in the collection) donated by English Friends when Earlham opened as Friends Boarding School in 1847, we have grown to a collection of about 13,000 catalogued books, thousands of pamphlets, and several hundred manuscript collections. Simply put, there is almost no significant published Quaker work that we do not have in some form, whether it is an original, a photocopy, a microfilm, or, increasingly, on-line access. We are the one part of the Earlham libraries that collects published materials comprehensively—we try to acquire a copy of any book, pamphlet, or periodical, published by or about Friends, anywhere in the world, in any language.
            Our collection of Friends works goes back to the 1650s, and includes many original pamphlets and books by the first generation of Friends. One can see George Fox’s longest work, The Great Mystery of the Great Whore Unfolded (1659) or the first edition of Margaret Fell’s Women’s Speaking Justified (1666). We have an extensive collection of published Quaker journals. Our collection of Quaker periodicals since the 1820s is comprehensive, as is our collection of published yearly meeting minutes. We also have a large collection of books of Discipline or Faith and Practice, including the first printed volumes, and earlier manuscript editions. Another strength of the collection is in Quaker genealogy, with over 1,200 different Quaker family histories.

            The manuscript collections focus on the history of Earlham, both the college and the school of religion, and Quakers in the Midwest. We are the repository for several Quaker organizations, including Indiana and Western yearly meetings, Friends United Meeting, United Society of Friends Women International, Associated Committee of Friends on Indian Affairs, Right Sharing of World Resources, and Quaker Bolivia-Link. Patrons can read student letters from the 1850s, or the complete transcript of what amounted to a heresy trial of Earlham conducted by Indiana and Western yearly meetings in 1920, or materials relating to Japanese Americans on campus during World War II, in the college archives. Dozens of other manuscript collections document the lives and concerns of Friends for the past 200 years. Readers can see the development of the pastoral system in the late nineteenth century in the papers of Allen Jay, or understand Quaker humanitarian work from World War I to World War II through the Homer and Edna Morris Collection, or witness partition in Palestine and the birth of state of Israel through the letters in the Sara Hadley Collection.

            Hours for the collection are posted on the web site, which provides a portal to search the collection. Tom Hamm, the director of special collections, and Anne Thomason, the college archivist, welcome inquiries and look forward to working with users.


  1. I'm grateful for this collection!

  2. Well, reading this, I am sorry not to have visited Friends Collection when I was last on campus, and I will reserve an extra day when I am next in Richmond.

    I am seeking a text version of *Christian and Brotherly Advices,* the earliest North American Quaker discipline (or so I am informed). Newberry Library up in Chicago apparently has good manuscript, but I haven't gotten there yet. Any chance the Earlham Friends Collection has this? I am looking for a complete text, not necessarily a manuscript...

    Eric Moon
    (510) 604-3162 mobile phone