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Society of Friends Records

Identifier: mss-643

Scope and Contents

The Society of Friends collection documents the meetings and correspondence of some communities of Society of Friends in New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont with a particular focus on the activities of Vermont Quakers. The collection includes minutes of Preparative, Monthly, Quarterly, and Yearly Meetings of Quaker communities, correspondence between members, microfilm of minutes, flyers, newsletters, and bulletins. Many documents are photocopies.

The colleciton is organized geographically, then alphabetically, then by meeting type, then year.

Series are organized by format, with the paper files separated from the microfilm. Both are organzied according to the same principles.

Printed materials have been grouped together under their respective towns. When materials do not match a meeting type, they are grouped into a "Miscellaneous" folder placed after the meetings and organized chronologically. Correspondence has been grouped together and organized chronologically as it was donated by T.D. Bassett.

The collection covers roughly 13 towns across New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont: Bennington, Burlington, Danby, Ferrisburgh, Hanover, New York City, Middlebury, Monkton, Montpelier, Peru, Plainfield, Putney, and Starksboro. Ferrisburgh and Monkton have the largest amount of physical and microfilm records while Danby's files are located exclusively on microfilm. Documents that are photocopied may be difficult to read. Paper items are in a mix of type and cursive handwriting. Levinus Painter, a Quaker minister who was prominent in the Monkton/Starksboro communities, has correspondence and speeches in the Bassett series. Clark Stevens and his family (namely Stephen F. Stevens and Mary Stevens) have a large amount of correspondence items in the Bassett series. There may be Thermofax paper in the collection.

T.D. Bassett was an archivist and historian working at the University of Vermont who specialized in documenting and collecting the activities of everyday people in Vermont. At his passing his work passed to the university, in which there were numerous records of Quaker correspondence, which has been organized into a separate series.


  • 1760-1999

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Historical Note

The Society of Friends, also known as Quakers, is a religious society which traces its beginnings to the mid-17th century in England with the teachings of preacher George Fox (1624-1661). Quaker practice finds its roots in English Protestantism, though not everyone who identifies as Quaker may identify themselves as "Christian." Facing persecution in England due to their perceived heretical beliefs, many Quakers migrated to English colonies in what is now the Northeastern United States of America beginning in the mid-to-late 17th century.

Friends Societies formed from informal meetings of likeminded individuals, which would affiliate with the larger "Monthly Meetings." Monthly Meetings are gatherings of one or more Quaker communities and are the basic structure of Quaker organization, dealing with vital records, receiving new members, or business sessions of the community. Preparative Meetings are meetings that formulate recommendations to be acted upon in the Monthly Meeting, typically held in an individual community if part of a larger Monthly Meeting. For example, in Vermont the first ever Monthly Meeting was the Danby Monthly Meeting which split off from Saratoga (Easton) in 1795, consisting of the Danby Preparative Meeting and Ferrisburgh Preparative Meeting. Quarterly meetings are meetings held between two or more Monthly Meetings four times a year. Yearly Meetings are similarly composed of Quarterly Meeting groups that come together to oversee a larger geographic area.

Quakers began organizing in New England in the 1660s with Rhode Island and Massachusetts as the central points of early activity. Quakers similarly were active in New York since the 1650s when it was under Dutch administration as New Amsterdam. Some states such as Maine and New Hampshire can trace their meetings back to Massachusetts settlers, while Vermont traces its meetings' legacies back to New York Quakers, though the settlers in the area came from all over New York and Massachusetts. An example of such settlers were Joseph and Huldah Hoag from Duchess County, New York, who settled in Vermont around 1789/1790, serving as recorded ministers (recognized and respected speakers at meetings.) Some New York Quaker meetings trace their legacy back to Vermont meetings, such as Peru, New York's community.

While active in many communities, few Quakers, especially in New York and New England, held prominent political offices, though exceptions such as Montpelier, Vermont's town clerk Clark Stevens (1764-1853) were not uncommon.


2 Linear Feet (2 cartons)

Language of Materials



The Society of Friends collection contains meeting minutes, photocopies of minutes and correspondence, microfilm of minutes, promotional material, bulletins, newsletters, and reports from Friends Societies, also known as Quakers, around New Hampshire, New York, and Vermont from the late 18th century through the late 20th century.

Physical Location

Library Research Annex, contact for access

Related Materials

The Middlebury Friends Meeting records (MS 902 M5335) is a collection at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst focused on the activities of the Middlebury Society of Friends in Vermont around 1979 to 2010, consisting of 2 boxes.

Related Materials

The Bennington Monthly Meeting of Friends records (MS 902 B466) is a collection at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst spanning 4 boxes that contains the monthly meeting minutes of the Bennington, Vermont Society of Friends from 1970-2004.

Related Materials

The Monkton Monthly Meeting Records (QM-NY-M623) is a collection at Bryn-Mawr College of minutes of monthly meetings and financial records of the Monkton, Vermont Society of Friends from 1986-1997 spanning 2 volumes, 1 folder.

Related Materials

The Ferrisburgh Preparative Meeting of Friends (Hicksite) Records (QM-NY-F457) form a collection of preparative meeting minutes and transaction records from Men's and Women's meetings of the Ferrisburgh, Vermont Society of Friends (Hicksite) which was one of two branches of the Ferrisburgh Quakers. At Bryn-Mawr College.

Related Materials

The Ferrisburgh Monthly Meeting (Orthodox) Records (QM-NY-F455) form a collection of monthly meeting minutes, vital records, and account books from the Ferrisburgh, Vermont Society of Friends Orthodox branch which date from 1801-1916. At Bryn-Mawr College.

Separated Materials

Dean, William, 1795: Quaker (Ferisburg), Journal of Missionary Trip through Lower Canada, northeastern U.S., circa 1840, undated removed to manuscript file. William Dean cash book, 1851-1860, with reminiscenes written 1855, Ferrisburg, VT (2 volumes), 1851-1860, 1855 removed to small bound manuscripts.


Hughes, Charles W., Bradley, A. Day. The Early Quaker Meetings of Vermont. Vermont Historical Society, pp. 153-167. (nd.) New England Yearly Meeting Interim Faith and Practice, Chapter 9. New England Quakers. 2014 Contains information from,,,,,, and findagrave and were used for information on Clark Stevens, Stephen F. Stevens, and Levinus Painter.,,, and were used for information on specific Quaker communities.
Guide to the Society of Friends Records
2023 November
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)