Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Proceedings Collection
Held at: Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College [Contact Us]500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania 19081
This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.
Overview and metadata sections
A general meeting for Friends in the Delaware Valley area was first convened at Burlington in 1681. The first general meeting held in Philadelphia was in 1683, and in 1685, it was agreed that the meetings in New Jersey and Pennsylvania should be combined into one yearly meeting with alternate sessions at Philadelphia and at Burlington. Since 1760, all Philadelphia Yearly Meetings have been held at Philadelphia.
The area of the Yearly Meeting has diminished over time. Generally its territory now embraces eastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, Delaware, and the eastern shore of Maryland. in 1790, Warrington Quarterly Meeting and Fairfax Quarterly Meeting were transferred to Baltimore Yearly Meeting in exchange for the old meetings on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, which formed Southern Quarterly Meeting. In 1819, several components of Western Quarterly Meeting were similarly transferred.
The great Separation among Philadelphia Friends occurred at the Yearly Meeting of 1827. From that year, there were two official Philadelphia Yearly Meetings, one of the Hicksite, the other of the Orthodox branch. Both were located in Philadelphia. Orthodox Friends retained possession of the meeting house on Arch Street and are often referred to as "Arch Street" Friends. The Hicksites are often referred to as "Race Street" Friends since their Yearly Meeting was held at a meeting house, built in 1857, on Race Street.
The two Yearly Meetings remained similar in structure, although the Orthodox Friends were fewer in number. There were some distinctions. Southern Quarterly Meeting was discontinued by the Orthodox in 1828; it continued with the Hicksites and evolved into the present Southern Half-Yearly Meeting. The Hicksite meetings in northern New Jersey were transferred to New York Yearly Meeting in 1833, while the Orthodox meetings in this area were retained by PYM. Several monthly meetings, including Muncy and Roaring Creek, in the central part of Pennsylvania, formed Fishing Creek Half-Yearly Meeting of PYM (Hicksite) in 1834; the Orthodox counterparts of these meetings retained part of Philadelphia Quarterly Meeting. The discontinuance of several Orthodox monthly meetings in New Jersey led to the formation of the combined Burlington and Bucks Quarterly Meeting in 1898 and Haddonfield and Salem Quarterly Meeting in 1904. The comparable Hicksite quarters did not merge.
Through the course of the early 20th century, the PYMs began to draw back together. Many standing yearly meeting committees, such as the Committee on Race Relations, Young Friends Movement, and Friends Peace Committee, perceiving concerns common to both branches of Friends, began to report to or receive appointments from both Yearly Meetings. As early as 1937, the two Yearly Meetings began to hold occasional business sessions together. In 1946, a new organization, Philadelphia General Meeting, composed of all members of the two Yearly Meetings, was formed to express the growing unity of the two Yearly Meetings. Its last session was held in 1954, but it was not until the next year that organic union was formally approved, and a reunited PYM, the present organization, was created.
This collection consists of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting extracts, or proceedings, from the early 18th through the early 21st centuries, in manuscript or printed form.
Prior to the 19th century, clerks created an abstracted report of the events at Yearly Meeting in the form of extracts from the minutes. They then copied and re-copied the extracts to be distributed to Quarterly Meetings and other constituents. In the 19th century, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting began printing the extracts in pamphlet form. Later, they began printing the proceedings as volumes, until 2004, after which proceedings were only made available in digital form.
The manuscript extracts in this collection date from the early 1700s to the mid 1800s. From the early 1700s to the early 1800s, the collection contains extracts for most years in original manuscript, and sometimes more than one manuscript copy per year. There are also typescript copies (created much later) of some years, and for a few years, there are only typescript copies and no original manuscripts. From the early to mid 1800s, there are a few original manuscripts, but mostly later typescript copies.
The first printed extracts in this collection, from 1807 and the 1820s, are loose and stored with the manuscript extracts. Later extracts were bound into volumes and are stored with serials. Friends Historical Library has Philadelphia Yearly Meeting - Hicksite extracts beginning in 1827, and Orthodox extracts beginning in 1845. Our collection is complete up through 2004, when Philadelphia Yearly Meeting ceased to produce printed proceedings.
Manuscript and typescript extracts are stored in chronological order as collection MSS 059. A few loose printed extracts are stored with this collection. The vast majority of the printed extracts are bound in volumes and stored with serials (SG 2). Printed extracts are split into Pre-Separation, Hicksite, Orthodox, and United; and within each, are in chronological order.
This collection was accumulated by the Friends Historical Library from various sources over time.
Yearly Meeting minutes and extracts of minutes was originally a series in MSS 059 Miscellaneous Meeting Papers. Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Extracts was separated from miscellaneous extracts into its own collection when Miscellaneous Meeting Papers was reprocessed in 2018.
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
This collection is available for research use.
- Use Restrictions
Some of the items in this collection may be protected by copyright. The user is solely responsible for making a final determination of copyright status. If copyright protection applies, permission must be obtained from the copyright holder or their heirs/assigns to reuse, publish, or reproduce relevant items beyond the bounds of Fair Use or other exemptions to the law. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/UND/1.0/.