Posted by on April 28, 2014 in Collections

Quaker-social-Blog-post-250x250_2We just released 11.5 million new records documenting one of the most prominent groups in American history, the “Religious Society of Friends,” more commonly known as Quakers. Spanning over 300 years (late 1600s – late 1900s), the collection includes birth, marriage, death, disownment, and memorial records, sourced from the Quaker’s monthly meeting minutes. About The Quakers

  • Played a key role in American history and society since the country’s earliest days.
  • Estimated that in the 1700s, 50 percent of all people living in the Mid-Atlantic States were Quaker.
  • Currently more than 85,000 Quakers living in the United States and 350,000 worldwide.
  • Quakers are the Unsung Leaders of Equality and Peace.
  • Quakers tracked the activities of their members through their monthly business meetings. Detailed meeting minutes can provide important information for those researching their family history, including names, dates, and relationships to fellow “Friends.” Monthly meetings also kept track of where members came from and their destinations when they chose to move to another colony, state or province — a real boon for those tracing their ancestors’ footsteps.
  • Many Americans have ancestors with Quaker roots. Celebrities like Brad Pitt, Zooey Deschanel, Kevin Bacon and Dave Matthews, and companies like Barclays Bank, Cadbury Chocolate and Sony, all have Quaker origins.

The Quaker Influence In 1681, after nearly 20 years of persecution for defying the existing religious institutions of their time, William Penn was given land in the new colonies to settle a debt owed by the king to his father. Penn ensured the land became a place where Quakers could live and worship freely, and it was later named Pennsylvania in his honor.

Penn enacted a self-limiting government among these early Quaker settlers in the colony, which later inspired legal practices that were eventually incorporated into the U.S. Constitution, alongside the Quaker beliefs of peace and equality. The beliefs of the Quakers were quite radical for their time and mirror many of the forward-thinking beliefs found in today’s society. They believed in equality among all people in God’s sight, the equal opportunity for education despite race or income level, the empowerment of women, the eradication of slavery, and the senselessness of war. They played an integral role in the abolition of slavery in the United States and are often credited with helping to facilitate the Underground Railroad. When a slave was freed, Quakers often took the freed slave in and their presence would be noted in the meeting minutes from Quaker congregations.

Ancestry.com has collaborated with a variety of institutions to compile a robust online documentation of the Quakers’ history. With the help of American Quaker colleges Earlham, Haverford, Swarthmore and Guilford, and The National Archives in England, Ancestry.com estimates that it now has more than 75 percent of all the American Quaker records in existence.

Lisa Parry Arnold, a professional genealogist, author and lecturer at Ancestry.com: ”I was raised in the Quaker religion, attended Quaker schools, and was married in a Quaker wedding ceremony. I feel a deep commitment to spreading awareness of their culture, beliefs and powerful influence in history. These new collections will help people who are researching their family history discover or learn more about their own Quaker heritage.”

In conjunction with the Ancestry.com Quaker record launch, Arnold, a 10th generation Quaker and descendant of the William Penn family, is also publishing Thee and Me: A Beginner’s Guide to Early Quaker Records, a companion guide designed to help those exploring their family history understand and use Quaker records. To learn more about Arnold’s book, for more information on the collection, or to learn more about your own Quaker heritage visit www.ancestry.com/Quakers.

7 Comments

Gwen Giffen 

I do NOT like this change. I have spent an extensive amount of time in these records, and have a huge database of Quaker ancestors and their descendants. The former way the results were shown was much easier to navigate, because it showed a clip of the result. I could easily discern whether the record was pertinent. Now I have to click onto the record, click onto the record itself to view it, to see if it is correct, and 9 times out of 10, it is not, because so many people used the same names. Since loading takes so long, this takes an incredible amount of extra time. I am VERY frustrated and disgusted with this change! Please, CHANGE IT BACK.

April 28, 2014 at 6:48 pm
Jan 

Gwen, these are records that were just added. We haven’t seen them on Ancestry before. A change didn’t occur, so no roll back can be made. Take some time to explore all the *newly* added Quaker records.

April 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm
Margel Walker Soderberg 

I LOVE this new database. I have been frustrated for years with the Quaker records available. I have also been to several Major Genealogy Conferences and only found one presentation on the Quakers. Hinshaw’s book with transcriptions have been the best source but NOTHING can ever compare with original records. Why were they disowned? What did they do? What was their reaction? Who attended the wedding? All this is in the new database and with many Quaker ancestors, I will be smiling for years to come.

April 29, 2014 at 6:12 am
Janice Harshbarger 

I’ve just spent a few minutes on this database and it is evident I’ll need to spend days here. I’m so looking forward to finding new information, and proper sources for old information. This is a huge addition to Ancestry, and these are the kinds of records we need, whether Quaker or Lutheran or Catholic. Thank you!

April 29, 2014 at 6:24 am
sheila 

I just used the link on ancestry last night and found several new Quaker records on family members. I appreciate all the new sources.

Once your advertising header link is gone from the main webpage, will there be a single link that will allow us to search all the Quaker records again? (i.e., similar to the global search for census records.) Previously I had conducted all my Quaker searches by first doing a keyword search in the Card Catalog, but this never allowed me to do a global search of all record databases.

However it’s finally available, I will use it whenever researching that portion of my family. Thank you.

April 29, 2014 at 7:00 pm
What You Might Have Missed: May 5th Edition 

[...] New Quaker Records Tell the Stories of Our Nation’s “Friends” [...]

May 5, 2014 at 11:18 am
Robert Tracy Hollingsworth 

Thank you for making these Quaker church records available thru ancestry .com. I trace my ancestry back to Valentine Hollingsworth who came to America from England. I am seeking information on the migration of these decendents to the state of Indiana. My great grandfather was Samuel P Hollingsworth. He lived in Russiaville, Howard County, Indiana. He died in1940. I would appreciate hearing from anyone about this man and the earlier generations of this family.

May 11, 2014 at 2:30 pm

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