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
Joshua Evans, a Quaker farmer, minister, and abolitionist, was born in 1731, the son of Thomas and Rebecca Evans of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting, New Jersey. In 1753, he married Priscilla Collins under the care of Haddonfield Monthly Meeting. About the year 1754, he experienced a religious conversion and thereafter, devoted his life to sharing his rigorous interpretation of the gospel through an ascetic and pious life style and simple ministry.
Barely educated, he was nevertheless acknowledged as a minister by Haddonfield Monthly Meeting in 1759 and visited Friends in New Jersey, New York, the South, and elsewhere, mostly in the period 1788-1798. Evans was a vegetarian and a fervent proponent of the peace testimony, Quaker plainness, and ending slavery. He also argued for temperance and the fair treatment of Indians. In 1798, he traveled through the southern states condemning slavery in the strongest terms. Returning to New Jersey, he died in July 1798. Controversial in his own time, Evans is representative of a radical, "primitive" Quaker tradition and reflects the diversity of late eighteenth century Quakerism.
This collection contains the autobiography (1731-1793) and portions of the journals of Joshua Evan (1731-1798) kept while traveling in the ministry among Friends in New York, New England, Canada, the South, and elsewhere, in the period 1794-1798. The copies of the journal in manuscript are attributed to George Churchman and Abraham Warrington, who was the son-in-law of Joshua Evans. Two volume is considered an original manuscript in the hand of Joshua Evans. Also included are letters, mounted in a letterbook, mostly to Evans's second wife, Ann, by Quakers at whose homes Evans stayed while on his religious visits.
The collection contains seven volumes of the journals of Joshua Evans's religious ministry on the American continent, from Nova Scotia to the south. Also included are over two dozen letters, formerly arranged in a letter book by Thomas H. Fawcett in 1935, written mostly to Evan's wife by Quakers at whose homes Joshua Evans stayed during his travels in the ministry.
An edited version of the journal, "A Journal of the Life, Travels, Religious Exercises, and Labours in the Work of the Ministry of Joshua Evans" was published in 1837 by John Comly. This is likely based on George Churchman's manuscript edition. See "Versions of Evans's journal" below for more information on the relationship between the various manuscripts.
This collection is divided into two series:
Eight manuscripts of Evans's journals survive, representing four versions of the journal. All manuscripts but one are held at Swarthmore.
Two manuscripts, Mss. B and C, are in Evans's own handwriting and describe his travels in the Northeast and the South, respectively. Two more, Mss. A and D, are copies in the handwriting of Evans's son-in-law Abraham Warrington. The former is an autobiography of Evans's life up to 1793; the latter is based on Ms. B, but does contain some material not present there.
The remaining four manuscripts are examples of an edition of the journals produced by George Churchman in 1804. Mss. H, E, and F represent one copy of this edition in three consecutive volumes. Ms. G, held at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, was originally written in three volumes as well, but was later rebound into a single volume. Churchman's version formed the basis for the edition of the journal printed by John Comly in 1837.
For additional information, see Thomas H. Fawcett's 1939 article in the Bulletin of Friends Historical Association, Vol. 28. No. 1, pp. 30-36, which discusses Mss. A, B, C, and D, and the printed edition.
Donor: Thomas H. and Edward H. Fawcett, 1935-1939
The collection was given by Thomas H. and Edward H. Fawcett. Thomas Fawcett arranged the letters in 1935 and mounted them in a bound and indexed volume. In 2023 FHL staff removed the letters from the volume for digitization and individually foldered them.
- Quakers -- Diaries
- Slavery -- United States
- Peace -- Religious aspects -- Society of Friends
- Spiritual life
- Quakers -- United States -- History
- Quakers -- Social life and customs
- Quakers -- New Jersey
- Friends Historical Library of Swarthmore College
- Finding Aid Author
- FHL staff
- 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/.
This manuscript is referred to as MS A in the literature on Joshua Evans. It is in the handwriting of Evans's son-in-law Abraham Warrington.
This manuscript is referred to as MS D in the literature on Joshua Evans. It is in the handwriting of Evans's son-in-law Abraham Warrington.
This manuscript is referred to as MS H in the literature on Joshua Evans. It is the 1st volume of a manuscript edition of Evans's journals produced by George Churchman in 1804.
An Abstracted Journal of the Life, early Baptisms, and religious exercises, with a brief account of the latter Travels and labour in the service of Gospel Ministry...of Joshua Evans...carefully taken from his own Notes and from a diary he kept in the latter days of Life. [Signed G.C., 5th of 4th month 1804]Physical Description
.1 linear ft.1 Ms volume
This manuscript is referred to as MS E in the literature on Joshua Evans. It is the 2nd volume of a manuscript edition of Evans's journals produced by George Churchman in 1804.
This manuscript is referred to as MS F in the literature on Joshua Evans. It is the 3rd volume of a manuscript edition of Evans's journals produced by George Churchman in 1804.
This manuscript, referred to as MS B in the literature on Joshua Evans, is an original copy in his own handwriting. It covers his first two northern journeys and the interval between. It includes an itinerary of his travels, giving the distances from place to place and the names of the people with whom he stayed.
This manuscript, referred to as MS C in the literature on Joshua Evans, is an original copy in his own handwriting. It covers his long and short southern journeys and the intervening period. It includes an itinerary of his travels, giving the distances from place to place and the names of the people with whom he stayed.
Accompanied by a later manuscript copy.
Accompanied by a later manuscript copy.
Fragment, signed by Sarah Hustler, clerk, with a prayer on the back