In addition to the collection of original texts at this site, we have writings that reflect on the origins and what has become of the Quaker movement. Not all of these relate to Quakers per se, but they help to set the context and perhaps to show the human dimension.
- A visit to Quaker country
- Dai Williams' walking tour of Sedburgh and Brigflatts, with pictures and a map, in the seedbed area of Quakerism.
(The graphic used in the upper-left corner of the "Reflections" section of this site, by the way, is derived from one of Dai's pictures, representing the place where Fox reported "the Lord let me see ... he had a great people to be gathered.")
- Abiezer Coppe - Madman or Mystic?
- An essay on Coppe's A Fiery Flying Roll and his religious and social beliefs, by Darryl Ogier, now a professional historian of early modern Europe. Helps us to understand the wider milieu, found particularly in London but also in pockets across England in the late 1640s and early 1650s, from which the Quaker movement drew many adherents and against which the Quakers felt obliged to distinguish themselves.
- Of Richard Clarke, a passing Quaker
- An excerpt from Richard Gough's "Observations concerning the Seates in Myddle and the familyes to which they belong" (written 1700-01), reflecting on Gough's youthful experience during the English Civil Wars and the restoration period. Richard Clarke is a main subject of these reminiscences, treated at greater length than anyone else in the manuscript. Clarke, regarded now as a n'er-do-well, had joined Quakers at the peak of their movement and later was "excommunicated" by them. A fascinating glimpse of early Quakers as part of the landscape of the day, and a poignant look at the men and women who live, for whatever reasons, in the margins of society.
("Adult" content – includes abortion, murder, religious bigotry, and earthy language.)
- How the Quakers got their 'members'
- Posted to the newsgroup soc.religion.quaker by Marshall Massey in 1997, these articles review the transition that the early Quaker movement made to the more organized Religious Society of Friends.
- Macaulay's History of England (to 1688)
- This history was scanned and put into the public domain through the Gutenberg project, and is reformatted here for better accessibility. First published in 1848, this "Whig" account quickly became a classic. Chapters 1 & 2 cover the Romans and the Catholic Church in England, up through the civil wars and the restoration. Ch. 3 is a socio-economic survey of England circa 1685, and Chs. 4 & 5 cover the reign of James II (including his friendship with William Penn) up to Monmouth's rebellion in 1688.
In the context of this site, Macaulay's work is particularly interesting for its treatment of Whigs and Nonconformists -- the proximate political and social setting for Friends, in Britain and the American colonies, for more than a century. It covers the crucial period of the rise of the Quaker movement. While it treats the nonconformist wing of English religiousity in detail, it is distinctly unsympathetic to Friends.
- from Christopher Hill's The World Turned Upside Down
- Reflections by Christopher Hill, a British historian whose study of the period has turned Quakers' conception of their roots 'upside-down.
- Religious dissension in Quaker Philadelphia
- A chapter from a history of Pennsylvania published in 1917, which examines the dynamics of Church and State in what Friends called "A Holy Experiment." The Keithian schism in the Philadelphia area in 1691-93 showed how hard it had become to hold onto the essentials of Quakerism. At the time, Philadelphia was the largest city in the Americas and had the greatest concentration of Quakers in the world.
- Witchcraft and Quakerism
- A study in social history by Philadelphia-area Friend Amelia Mott Gummere, originally published in 1908. The title is somewhat misleading, as the book reviews a broad range of superstitions – including the belief in witchcraft – and considers how the views of the first generations of Friends reflected their own times and perhaps anticipated a more enlightened era.
- A Quaker family history
- Don Cordell traces his Quaker ancestors – members of the Religious Society of Friends for some 180 years – and considers how culture and religious beliefs may have persisted in the generations after affiliation was dropped.
- Quaker Alphabet Soup
- Another perspective on the history of Friends in the America, accounting for the presence of various acronymic groups of Quakers. Mike Hopkins considers MMs, QMs, and YMs; Hicksites, Gurneyites, Wilburites, and Evangelicals; AFSC, FCNL, AFCIA, FUM, and FGC; programmed and unprogrammed traditions. Includes commentary by Bill Samuel on distinctives such as fundamentalist and evangelical, Christ-centered and liberal. See also John Griffith's observation on the three truths of past events.
- A fractured history of Quakers in America
- Brief overview of various splits that affected the Religious Society of Friends in North America, and attempts at reconciliation. In a few paragraphs and one simple graphic, considers the question of how the Religious Society of Friends in North America splintered into several branches. Includes off-site links for further investigation.
- Quaker Thought & History
- Edward Grubb's "Volume of Essays" published in 1925, on Quakers and theology, modernity, Christian unity, militarism, healing and health. Includes a liberal account of the Evangelical movement in the Society of Friends, in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and a study of faith-healing among the early Quakers.
- Introducing Chicago area Quakers
- David Finke shares his impressions of what he calls "The Flavor" of Chicago-area Quakerism, with reference to its history and its expression through the Monthly Meetings, in remarks prepared originally for a meeting of Friends World Committee for Consultation, Section of the Americas. This review of the Friends' history in the Chicago area considers early establishment, efforts to transcend differences between branches of the RSoF, racial dynamics, and the nature of urban-type meetings.