In 1864 Alida and Calvin Clark, two abolitionist members of the Religious Society of Friends from Indiana, went on a mission trip to Helena, Arkansas. The Clarks had come to render temporary relief to displaced war orphans but instead found a lifelong calling. During their time in Arkansas, they started the school that became Southland College, which was the first institution of higher education for blacks west of the Mississippi, and they set up the first predominately black monthly meeting of the Religious Society of Friends in North America. Their progressive racial vision was continued by a succession of midwestern Quakers willing to endure the primitive conditions and social isolation of their work and to overcome the persistent challenges of economic adversity, social strife, and natural disaster. Southland’s survival through six difficult and sometimes dangerous decades reflects both the continuing missionary zeal of the Clarks and their successors as well as the dedication of the black Arkansans who sought dignity and hope at a time when these were rare commodities for African Americans in Arkansas.
Early American Quakers have long been perceived as retiring separatists, but in Holy Nation Sarah Crabtree transforms our historical understanding of the sect by drawing on the sermons, diaries, and correspondence of Quakers themselves. Situating Quakerism within the larger intellectual and religious undercurrents of the Atlantic World, Crabtree shows how Quakers forged a paradoxical sense of their place in the world as militant warriors fighting for peace. She argues that during the turbulent Age of Revolution and Reaction, the Religious Society of Friends forged a “holy nation,” a transnational community of like-minded believers committed first and foremost to divine law and to one another. Declaring themselves citizens of their own nation served to underscore the decidedly unholy nature of the nation-state, worldly governments, and profane laws. As a result, campaigns of persecution against the Friends escalated as those in power moved to declare Quakers aliens and traitors to their home countries.
Holy Nation convincingly shows that ideals and actions were inseparable for the Society of Friends, yielding an account of Quakerism that is simultaneously a history of the faith and its adherents and a history of its confrontations with the wider world. Ultimately, Crabtree argues, the conflicts experienced between obligations of church and state that Quakers faced can illuminate similar contemporary struggles.
The Religious Society of Friends and its service organization, the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) have long been known for their peace and justice activism. The abolitionist work of Friends during the antebellum era has been well documented, and their contemporary anti-war and anti-racism work is familiar to activists around the world. Quaker Brotherhood is the first extensive study of the AFSC's interracial activism in the first half of the twentieth century, filling a major gap in scholarship on the Quakers' race relations work from the AFSC's founding in 1917 to the beginnings of the civil rights movement in the early 1950s.
Allan W. Austin tracks the evolution of key AFSC projects such as the Interracial Section and the American Interracial Peace Committee, which demonstrate the tentativeness of the Friends' activism in the 1920s, as well as efforts in the 1930s to make scholarly ideas and activist work more theologically relevant for Friends. Documenting the AFSC's efforts to help European and Japanese American refugees during World War II, Austin shows that by 1950, Quakers in the AFSC had honed a distinctly Friendly approach to interracial relations that combined scholarly understandings of race with their religious views.
In tracing the transformation of one of the most influential social activist groups in the United States over the first half of the twentieth century, Quaker Brotherhood presents Friends in a thoughtful, thorough, and even-handed manner. Austin portrays the history of the AFSC and race--highlighting the organization's boldness in some aspects and its timidity in others--as an ongoing struggle that provides a foundation for understanding how shared agency might function in an imperfect and often racist world.
Highlighting the complicated and sometimes controversial connections between Quakers and race during this era, Austin uncovers important aspects of the history of Friends, pacifism, feminism, American religion, immigration, ethnicity, and the early roots of multiculturalism.
Quakers and Abolition
Edited by Brycchan Carey and Geoffrey Plank University of Illinois Press, 2014 Library of Congress E441.Q35 2014 | Dewey Decimal 326.08996073
This collection of fifteen insightful essays examines the complexity and diversity of Quaker antislavery attitudes across three centuries, from 1658 to 1890. Contributors from a range of disciplines, nations, and faith backgrounds show Quaker's beliefs to be far from monolithic. They often disagreed with one another and the larger antislavery movement about the morality of slaveholding and the best approach to abolition.
Not surprisingly, contributors explain, this complicated and evolving antislavery sensibility left behind an equally complicated legacy. While Quaker antislavery was a powerful contemporary influence in both the United States and Europe, present-day scholars pay little substantive attention to the subject. This volume faithfully seeks to correct that oversight, offering accessible yet provocative new insights on a key chapter of religious, political, and cultural history.
Contributors include Dee E. Andrews, Kristen Block, Brycchan Carey, Christopher Densmore, Andrew Diemer, J. William Frost, Thomas D. Hamm, Nancy A. Hewitt, Maurice Jackson, Anna Vaughan Kett, Emma Jones Lapsansky-Werner, Gary B. Nash, Geoffrey Plank, Ellen M. Ross, Marie-Jeanne Rossignol, James Emmett Ryan, and James Walvin.
Why the title Quakers and Nazis, not Quakers against Nazis? Was not hostility part of the interaction between the two groups? On the contrary, Hans A. Schmitt's compelling story describes American, British, and German Quakers' attempts to mitigate the suffering among not only victims of Nazism but Nazi sympathizers in Austria and Lithuania as well.
With numerous poignant illustrations of the pressure and social cost involved in being a Quaker from 1933 to 1945, Quakers and Nazis: Inner Light in Outer Darkness reveals a facet of Nazi Germany that is entirely unknown to most people. The book focuses on the heroic acts foreign and German Quakers performed under the Nazi regime, offering fully documented and original information regarding the Quakers' commitment to nonviolence and the relief of the victims.
Schmitt's narrative reveals the stress and tension of the situation. How should a Quaker behave in a meeting for worship with a policeman present? Spies did not stop Friends in worship services from openly criticizing Hitler and Göring, but Nazis did inflict torment on Friends. Yet Friends did not, could not, respond in like manner. Olga Halle was one Friend who worked to get people, mostly Jews, out of Germany until America entered the war. When emigration was outlawed, twenty-eight were stranded. Years later her distress was still so deep that even on her deathbed she recited their names.
Schmitt reminds us that virtually all the Berlin Quakers secreted Jews throughout the war. He shows how these brave Quakers opposed the Nazis even after they lost their jobs and had been harassed by the Gestapo. Risking their lives, the Friends persisted in their efforts to alleviate suffering.
At a time when the scholarly world is divided as to whether all Germans knew and approved of the Final Solution, this book makes a valuable contribution to the discussion. Quakers—despite their small numbers—played, and continue to play, an important role in twentieth-century humanitarian relief. Quakers and Nazis: Inner Light in Outer Darkness, a study of how Friends performed under the extreme pressure of a totalitarian regime, will add significantly to our general understanding of Quaker and German history.