Vol. 3, # 10
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The Society of Friends or Quakers is a religion sect that was founded in England in 1652 by George Fox during a religious awakening in northwest England. The Quakers sent missionaries to the US in 1656 and after some initial persecution the religion began to grow. Members of the society became known as "Quakers" because some of them trembled during religious experiences. They called for honesty, nonviolence, justice, simple living, and toleration. Members would sit quietly in meeting and reflect upon God. They rejected military service, the bearing of arms, formal oaths, capital punishment, and the slave trade. Large communities of Quakers settled in Pennsylvania, founded by Quaker William Penn, and in Rhode Island but Quakers could actually be found living in all of the early states.
Their record keeping system begins in the 1650s. Births are recorded by family name, not by date of birth. All of the death records were not recorded, particularly if members had no issue. Early gravestones were thought to be an expression of vanity, so some used unmarked stones to signify a burial site. Later simple monuments would identify only the name, age, and birth and death dates of the deceased. Marriages, recorded in the brides meeting, include the entire marriage certificate and of witnesses.
Accurate record keeping has always been very important to the Quakers. Minute books of the monthly, quarterly and yearly meetings were kept, but the ones of most value to the genealogist are the monthly meeting minute books. These books include birth, marriage and burial records. They also contained "removals" (members wanting permission to move to another location.) These can help establish an ancestor's migration pattern. The women and men had an equal place in worship, and from 1670 until 1890 separate men's and women's business meetings were held and minutes were kept by both groups. If one record was lost or destroyed the other usually survived. The men's minutes were referred to as "The Minutes".
A large number of Quaker records have been transcribed and are in print. The best known collection is William Wade Hinshaw's Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy which consists of six volumes, each dealing with a different region. The volumes are arranged by meeting (church), beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. Each meeting is introduced with a brief history that includes the names of the earliest members. Next is a section listing information from the meeting's birth and death records, arranged alphabetically by family name. Following that is an abstract of the minutes of the meeting, including marriages, new memberships, transfers of membership, disownments, and restorations to membership. Again the entries are arranged alphabetically by family, and the chronologically.
These encyclopedia's are considered one of the premier sources of information for early American Quaker genealogy.Volume 1 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of North and South Carolina, Georgia and Tennessee.Volume 2 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.Volume 3 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of New York.Volume 4 and 5 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of Ohio.Volume 6 of the Encyclopedia is the abstract of the early records of Virginia.
These books can be found in many genealogical collections.
Many records have been microfilmed by the LDS Church and are available at their research centers through inter-library loan.
Abbreviations that will be found in meeting notes are:
Abbreviations- altm = at liberty to marry att = attached to, attended BG = burial grounds cd = contrary to the Discipline chr = charter con = condemned dec = deceased dis = disowned, disowned for div = divorced dp = dropped plain dress and/or speech dr = drinking spiritous liquor to excess dtd = dated end = endorsed FBG = Friends burial grounds fam = family Frds = Friends jas = joined another society JP = justice of the peace ltm = liberated to marry mbr = member mcd = married contrary to Discipline MG = minister of the Gospel MH = meeting house, church MM = monthly meeting mos = married out of society mou = married out of unity neg att = neglecting attendance ou = out of unity PM = preparative meeting QM = quarterly meeting rcd = recorded ret mbrp = retained membership rm = reported married rmt = reported married to rst = reinstate, reinstated twp = township uc = under care (of mtg) unm = unmarried upl = using profane language w/c = with consent of YM = yearly meeting
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Fact: William Wade Hinshaw passed away before the sixth volume of his Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy was ever published. He had lived a long life, much of it dedicated to transcribing the handwritten records of the early Quaker Church.
Tip: The two major repositories for Quaker Records in the U.S. are: Haverford College Library, Quaker and Special Collections, 370 Lancaster Ave., Haverford, PA 19041 and Friends Historical Library, 500 College Ave., Swathmore, PA 19081
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Researchers now have access to Footnote.com which makes the fourth subscription available for use in the Heritage Room. Working together with the National Archives, researchers and the general public are able to access millions of newly-digitized images of the National Archives historic records on a subscription basis from the Footnote web site. While not all Archives documents are online, there is still a wealth of records and information to be found. Some of the collections to be found include Papers of the Continental Congress (1774-89), Mathew B. Brady Collection of Civil War Photographs, Southern Claims Commission, Name Index to Civil War and Later Pension Files, and Investigative Case Files of the Bureau of Investigation, 1908-22.
Robert Davis, in cooperation with the North Central Alabama Genealogical Society, will host a FREE Open House on January 18th in the Library at Wallace State College in Hanceville, AL. The program begins at 9 AM and runs until 3 PM. Robert will give a tour of the collection at 10 AM; Bill Simpson will present a program on digital photography at 1 PM and at 2 PM, Robert will be discussing special sites for Internet research. Also, a field trip to the Alabama State Archives and Mobile Public Library is scheduled for March 6th through 8th. Travel fee will be $100. Another larger trip is being planned for August 6th through 15th for research in NYC, MA, ME, OH and KY. Travel fee will be $400. Contact Robert Davis at Wallace State for more information.
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