Emlen Family Papers
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
Sarah Foulke Farquhar Emlen was born 4mo 27, 1787, the daughter of Cadwalader and Phebe Foulke of Monmouth County, New Jersey. Her parents moved frequently, and her mother died when she was 15. Her father died in Ohio County, Virginia, in 1809. In 1809 she married William Farquhar under the care of Short Creek Monthly Meeting, Ohio. He died in 1811, and their infant son died the following year. Supporting herself as a teacher, Sarah Farquhar taught at the Westtown School in West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1811-1816. In 1816, she married James Emlen (1792-1866) under the care of Concord Monthly Meeting. He was the son of James and Phebe Peirce Emlen; his father was an Elder at Middletown Monthly Meeting, Chester Co., and served on the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee as well as Westtown Committee. Like his father, James Emlen served as an Elder and on the Westtown Committee and traveled as a companion to Quaker ministers. About 1814, he moved to a farm in Middletown, Chester Co., where he operated a school for boys. In 1835, the family moved to Westtown where James Emlen worked as a teacher at the Boarding School School. Sarah Emlen began her ministry at a young age and was recorded as a minister by Chester Monthly Meeting in 1828. She travelled extensively in the U.S. and Great Britain. In 1831-1832, in the company of Esther Lewis and Henry Hull, she visited the southern States, and in 1844-1845 she visited Great Britain and Ireland. Sarah and James had seven children: James (1816-1827); Mary (1818-1893 married Chalkley Bell; Phebe (1820-1887) married three times; Sarah Cresson (1822-1904) married William P. Bangs, a Delaware merchant; Ann (1824-1905) married Joseph Howell; Susan (1826-1887) unmarried; and Samuel (1829-1920) who married Sarah Williams and was a recorded minister. Sarah Foulke Farquhar Emlen died 7mo 27, 1849
Contains papers relating to the Emlen family, residents of Middletown, Pennsylvania. Chiefly correspondence (1817-1849) of Sarah Foulke Farquhar Emlen (1787-1849), Quaker minister, relating to her travels to visit Friends' meetings in England, Ireland, New England, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Virginia, as well as similar journeys made by her husband, James Emlen (1792-1866). Also biographical data, reference materials, and memorabilia. Includes material relating to Westtown School, a Quaker boarding school in Chester County, Pa., where both Emlens taught; the Hicksite-Orthodox separation; and the free produce movement. Correspondents include Moses Brown, John Churchman, Samuel Emlen (ca. 1765-1837), Josiah Forster, Samuel Fothergill, Isaac Hadwen, Thomas Kite, Thomas Shillitoe, Esther Tuke, Joseph Whitall, and John Wilbur.
The collection is organized in into four series:
- Correspondence sent by Sarah Emlen
- Correspondence received by Sarah and James Emlen
- Miscellaneous correspondence
- Miscellaneous papers
The papers apparently were preserved by Samuel Emlen (1829-1920), son of Sarah and James Foulke. His son, George W. Emlen, married Eleanor Cope in 1877 and lived in Germantown, Philadelphia, Pa. Their son, George William Emlen, Jr., marrried Eleanor Clark. George W. and Eleanor C. Emlen, Jr., donated the Sarah Emlen correspondece and journals to FHL in 1965. In 1969, they donated the additional Quaker correspondence and miscellaneous papers.
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. George W. Emlen, 1965, 1969
The following material has been removed from the collection and recatalogued:
- "Anthony Benezet to His Friend Ann Emlen", 1784; "Life of Elizabeth Ashbridge"; Appendix.
- Journals of Sarah Foulke Farquhar Emlen, 1811-1845. See Journals MSS 003/052
- Teachers -- Pennsylvania
- Women clergy -- Pennsylvania
- Women teachers -- Pennsylvania
- Boarding schools -- Pennsylvania
- Free produce movement
- Lay ministry -- Pennsylvania
- Lay ministry -- Society of Friends
- Quakers -- Great Britain
- Quakers -- Ireland
- Quakers -- New England
- Quakers -- New York (State)
- Quakers -- North Carolina
- Quakers -- Ohio
- Quakers -- Pennsylvania
- Quakers -- Virginia
- Quakers -- Social life and customs
- Schools -- Pennsylvania
- Slave labor -- United States
- Antislavery movements -- United States
- Slavery -- United States
- Slavery and the church -- Society of Friends
- Voyages and travels -- 19th century
- Quaker women -- Pennsylvania
- Schools -- Pennsylvania -- Chester County
- Society of Friends -- Education -- Pennsylvania
- Society of Friends -- History
- Society of Friends -- Great Britain
- Society of Friends -- Ireland
- Society of Friends -- New England
- Society of Friends -- New York (State)
- Society of Friends -- North Carolina
- Society of Friends -- Ohio
- Society of Friends -- Pennsylvania
- Quakers -- Tennessee
- Society of Friends -- Tennessee
- Society of Friends -- Virginia
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- Susanna K. Morikawa
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
Collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
Friends Historical Library believes all of the items in this collection to be in the Public Domain in the United States, and is not aware of any restrictions on their use. However, the user is responsible for making a final determination of copyright status before reproducing. See http://rightsstatements.org/vocab/NoC-US/1.0/.
According to original checklist, the letters were informally bound as received. They were detached by FHL staff in 1982 and foldered in a single group. The letters are numbered, but not a consecutive run. Most are to her husband, James Emlen, sent during her travels in the ministry.
James is in Ohio, visiting Indian tribes. She is visiting family, but greatly misses her infant son, James, born 1816.
Sarah Emlen was visiting family and meetings in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. She mentions that she heard Elias Hicks sermon and was moved by his talk. In November she attended Ohio Select Meeting working on committee on the revision of the Discipline; Hicks spoke at the end of the meeting on the oppression of African Americans. James wrote to her 9mo 19 with family news and advice; their two babies, James and Mary, were being cared for with help.
8 ALsS (autograph letters,signed), visiting New York and New England. Had a meeting with the "colored people" in Providence and visited with Moses Brown.
8 ALsS. Sarah is at home in Westtown, visiting Friends in midst of Separation tension and division within monthly meetings and the school while James was traveling in Ohio, Indiana, Virginia and North Carolina, accompanying Thomas Shillitoe on a religious visit. She describes the split within the Chester monthly meeting and is staunchly Orthodox.
ALS describes her visit to meetings in Muncy and vicinity
ALS to Elizabeth C. Oakford of Darby Monthly Meeting, a friend and confidant.
2 ALsS. Describes her arduous visits to the meetings in Delaware and Maryland in December.
9 ALsS (autographed letters, signed). Visits to Virginia and North Carolina. In Virginia she describes the loss in number of meetings as Friends move away. Fear remains after 1831 insurrection by enslaved people. She comments on the dreadful lives of the blacks. She does not think that the Society of Friends will survive there and found little interest in the meetings when she visited from people belonging to other societies. She was dDiscouraged and weary, enduring bad weather and rain. Remarks on the meteor showers visible in April and the fears of the local people.
7 ALsS. Visiting Quaker meetings in Tennessee, Yadkins River area, and as far south as Blount County before turning homeward. Remarks that the Southerners are becoming more hardened in their attitude towards blacks, and she fears that a cloud is gathering over the land. Her return is through Virginia.
7 ALsS. In 1832 Sarah Emlen was visiting New England Yearly Meeting. Elizabeth C. Oakford of Darby Monthly Meeting, died 8mo 4, 1834, was a close friend and confidante.
Sarah confides her fears of misquoting the scriptures and being criticized when she preaches. In her March letter she describes the wreck of the steamboat William Penn which caught fire and was beached at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, with the loss of five lives. She was carrying 120 passengers. William Penn was on a voyage from New Castle, Pennsylvania to Philadelphia. Most letters are sent from Philadelphia where Sarah Emlen is visiting meetings.
1 letter sent from London. Attending the Yearly Meeting and mentions visiting Friends and Britain.
Letter sent while attending London Yearly Meeting, visiting Friends
Letter (ALS) from London
ALS. Sarah Emlen is back in the U.S., visiting meetings in Philadelphia area
Letter sent 1837 from Burlington, NJ, where she is visiting a cousin who is ill. Letter sent 1838 as she visits Quaker meetings in New Jersey and New York.
7 ALsS, sent from Liverpool and then Ireland, where she received a warm response. Traveling with Esther? In Limerick, she comments on the "White Quakers."
5 ALsS. In early October, she sailed across the Channel to return to England. She relays that she has heard questioning about why her husband is not traveling with her since her health is fragile - the response is that a Philadelphia Elder had responded that it would be a bad precedent.
6 ALsS. In London, she bewails the decline of Quaker meetings, Grace Church and Southwark, "It was like going into the Sepulchers of their forefather." Attends London and Dublin Yearly Meetings.
ALS. Her letter dDescribes visiting Ireland for three months and the sorry state of the Society of Friends in that place.
ALS, visiting Hackworth School in Yorkshire, England, and heading to Dublin Yearly Meeting in four weeks.
ALS from Westtown Boarding School. She is very discouraged by the state of the Society in the U.S.
ALS from Westtown Boarding School. Sarah mentions her times of depression and disappointment but her return in faith.
Sarah Emlen to unnamed cousin. Attended Yearly Meeting where Hulda Sears from North Carolina spoke.
This series contains letters from fellow Quaker ministers and other members of the Society of Friends, received largely by Sarah Emlen on her travels and arranged alphabetically by sender. There also are a few family letters sent.
ALS concerning financial problems of his brother-in-law Samuel Emlen. Presumably to James Emlen. Samuel suffered business reverses but eventually became an acknowledged minister.
3 ALsS. The letter contain Quaker news, including his invitation in 1826 to meet with Elias Hicks who declined his offer
ALS (autograph letter, signed). Asenath and her husband Dougan were the first superintendents of the New Garden Boarding School.
ALS from Quaker minister, expressing her thanks for Sarah Emlen's letter of encouragement. She has met with John Shoemaker and his companion John Brown in Baltimore and is nauseated at the plight of enslaved people as they traveled to New Garden, N.C.
Letter sent to her as she leaves on her mission
Letter to their mother
Sarah was in Ohio, and James and children were at home, with help. He expresses words of encouragement.
Letter written from Westtown.
3 ALsS from Tottenham, England
ALS. Fisher (1783-1871) was Quaker merchant and businessman.
2 ALsS. English Friend
Offers to pay transportation for James Emlen to join Sarah.
Letter to "My Beloved Friend" mentions calamity in Ireland and visits of Quaker including Samuel Bewley as well as family news.
The letter mentions changes and issues in Society of Friends, including publication of Truth Vindicated.
A warm invitation to stay with them since they hear that Sarah has been ill. The letter includes her response, indicating that she is feeling better.
ALS regarding acting as a traveling companion for Sarah Emlen
His letter to Sarah Emlen in Ireland tell of the death of his daughter
ALS containing religious advice
Undated letter addressed to Sarah at Westtown in response to her request to accompany her in the ministry, and the 1832 ALS describes a letter with Sarah's response to slavery while visiting Virginia
2 AlsS. Condolences on death of their son, James, and the placement of their son in Westtown School.
Sarah is traveling in the ministry in Tennessee.
ALS to Sarah Emlen who is traveling in the ministry in England.
2 ALsS, words of encouragement. In 1844, Sarah was in Liverpool.
Arranged chronologically. Includes correspondence between Quaker ministers and Emlen family letters.
Subpoena to appear before court in Philadelphia concerning case between Lord Baltimore and Pennsylvania proprietors
Autograph letter signed (ALS). Catherine Payton (1727-1794), English Quaker minister, married William Phillips in 1772. She was acknowledged as a minister about 1748 and visited America.
ALS. John Churchman (1705-1775), Chester County, Pa., farmer and surveyor. Recorded as a minister in 1735. Visited England in the ministry in 1750.
Letter from the sister of Quaker minister Samuel Fothergill. Ann Fothergill (1715-1802)
ALS. Samuel Fothergill (1715-1772), English Quaker minister, visited America 1754-1756.
ALS from aboard ship near Bombayhook after traveling in America in the ministry.
ALS, notes that his first letter upon returning to England after travel in America
ALS, sister of Quaker minister Samuel Fothergill. Ann Fothergill (1715-1802)
ALS as she embarks on a religious visit to America
ALS. Esther Tuke (1727-1794), English Quaker minister and second wife of William Tuke, Quaker philanthropist.
ALS draft. James Emlen, father of James Emlen (1793-1866), served on the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Indian Committee. The letter concerns a claim by Tuscarora tribe on lands in Virginia.
ALsS. Burlington, NJ., Quaker concerning financial matters. Stephenson was a wealthy Philadelphia Quaker merchant and agent.
Thomas Evans (1798-1868) was a Quaker minister from Philadelphia. James Emlen, husband of Sarah, was at Westtown Boarding School.
ALS. Balderston expresses a warning to him concerning Bangs's sudden conversion and preaching. William P. Bangs (1818-1872) married Sarah Cresson Emlen in 1846.
ALS concerning Sarah Emlen's visit in the ministry in Ireland
2 ALsS, religious concerns. Wilbur (1774-1856)\, Quaker minister at the center of the split in New England Yearly Meeting in 1845.
Joseph King, Baltimore, with praise to Bangs for his devotion to Society of Friends. Comments that unhappy with Friends' plain language use of thee rather than thou.
Letters concerning finance.
7 letters to his children and their families
ALS on marriage of Samuel Emlen to Sarah Williams
ALS from Sarah's father. Samuel and Sarah Williams were married in 1851.
Letter of sympathy for death of his son. Samuel Emlen, member of Philadelphia Monthly Meeting, Northern District, suffered business losses about the same time and moved to Germantown. He became a recorded minister in 1864, and in later life devoted himself to social and religious concerns.
He was seeking information about the Society of Friends and its branches.
Manuscript statement against buying products made with the labor of enslaved people.
From Goshen to Darby Monthly Meeting. Elizabeth, widow of Stephen Hoopes. Removal and clearness.
Also those Americans who visited Europe. Manuscript notebook, "Copied for Ann Sharpless, 1836." lso includes those Americans who visited Europe. Copied for Ann Sharpless.
Manuscript concerning disputed use of the Providence and Middletown meeting houses. Unsigned.
Two autograph/copy books signed by Westtown students
Manuscript poetry and prose. Sarah Williams married Samuel Emlen in 1851.
Copy essays (copies?) on miscellaneous topics
Poetry and prose
Poetry and prose, memorials to eminent Friends, etc. Written at Westtown, early 19th century
Undated mManuscript copy of Penn's 1701 certificate
Unbound sections given to Mary Leggett Williams from Charles Caleb Cresson. See book catalog for complete copies.