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Thomas Scattergood journal


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. 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

Thomas Scattergood (1748-1814) was a Quaker minister, pioneer of mental health reform, and early advocate for the creation of Friends Asylum (later Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Early in his life, he traveled the countryside helping to lead Meetings of the Religious Society of Friends. Scattergood later protested the harsh conditions faced by the mentally ill, advocating instead for moral treatment, in which the mentally ill would be treated with dignity, respect, kindness, and love. In 1811, he proposed to the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting the creation of the Friends Asylum for the Relief of Persons Deprived of the Use of their Reason. His proposal was accepted and construction began in 1813. Scattergood died of typhoid fever in 1814.

Scattergood Foundation, “Legacy” (accessed June 29, 2015 and September 22, 2016) family papers, 1681-1900, Haverford College LibraryJournal of the Life and Religious Labors of Thomas Scattergood, A Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends. Philadelphia: Friends Book Store, 1874.Charles How, Devout Meditations; Or, A Collection of Thoughts on Religious and Philosophical Subjects. New York: Samuel Wood, 1807.Fruits of a Father’s Love: Being the Advice of William Penn to His Children, Relating to their Civil and Religious Conduct. London: Luke Hinde, 1765.Information derived from the collection.

This journal was created by Thomas Scattergood (1748-1814), a Quaker minister, pioneer of mental health reform, and early advocate for the creation of Friends Asylum (later Friends Hospital) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It describes his travels to various Quaker Meetings in New Jersey and New York between 1789 and 1792.

The journal contains personal meditations, observations on the weather, and an account of Scattergood’s attendance at numerous Quaker Meetings throughout New Jersey and New York.

The inside cover of this journal is inscribed “Journey to N.J. 1789.” It includes an account of Scattergood’s travels between July and November 1789, mainly visiting Quaker Meetings in New Jersey and New York. This is followed by an account of “several little journeys” to New Jersey in October 1791 and early 1792.

Scattergood began his journal by copying out religious meditations by Charles How and William Penn, which he annotated with references to relevant Biblical verses on sinful talk and the virtue of keeping silent. He also recorded purchases made from Edmund Pryor in New York during August 1789, including a journal. After setting down brief instructions on how to stop a nosebleed, Scattergood recorded his observations on the weather during May and June of 1789.

The majority of Scattergood’s journal focuses on his travels through New Jersey and New York between July and September 1789. Scattergood noted that he set out from Philadelphia with his son Joseph and father-in-law D. Bacon on July 20, 1789. After a few days near Burlington, New Jersey, he began traveling with John Cox while his family members returned home. Scattergood and Cox traveled to New York at the end of the month and attended Quaker Meetings at Westbury, Oyster Bay, and Flushing on Long Island. While there, it appears that they stayed with Edmund Pryor’s family.

Scattergood attended a Quaker Meeting in New York, New York, on August 9, 1789, before returning to New Jersey on August 14th. On August 21st he described the drowning deaths of several local young people and his attendance at the funeral. Scattergood traveled throughout New Jersey during the rest of August and much of September before returning home to Philadelphia on September 21, 1789. Following a brief respite at home to look after his “outward affairs,” Scattergood made another journey to various New Jersey meetings in October. He returned home again on November 18, 1789.

In addition to these longer trips, Scattergood recorded “several little journeys” in his journal. In October 1791, he traveled to Shrewsbury, New Jersey to attend the Quarterly Meeting. In early 1792, he again traveled to Shrewsbury and Woodbury, New Jersey. He ended his journal with a prayer, asking God to “favour me still in my Passage through Life, with thy light & Lamp to enlighten and guide my steps by.”

A version of Scattergood’s journal was published in 1874 with the title

Journal of the Life and Religious Labors of Thomas Scattergood, A Minister of the Gospel in the Society of Friends. While the published journal related several of the same events described in this manuscript, Scattergood’s language changed slightly in many places, suggesting that he edited his entries before transferring them to a second journal. For instance, in the 1874 journal, Scattergood described one of his hosts as suffering from depression, identifying him only as “a Friend.” However, in this manuscript, he identified the man as Thomas Pearsall.

Thomas Scattergood’s hand-written journal is interspersed between the leaves of

Poor Will’s Pocket Almanack for the Year 1789. The almanac contains information on the comparative value of American and foreign currencies, a chart showing phases of the moon, and a tide table. It also includes the court schedules for several Mid-Atlantic states, a list of members of the Supreme Executive Council and General Assembly of Pennsylvania, and a chart showing various roads in Pennsylvania.

This small volume is bound in stiff paper wrappers decorated with floral motifs. It contains 61 leaves, of which 16 are type-written, 38 are hand-written in black ink, and 7 are blank.

Item 0177: Shelved in SPEC MSS 0097

Purchase, 2015

Processed and encoded by Elizabeth Jones-Minsinger, January 2017.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2017 January 11
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Thomas Scattergood journal, 1789, 1791-1792.
Item 0177
Physical Description

1 volume

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