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Welcome to the 350th Anniversary Quaker History and Quaker Witness Project

The Quaker History and Quaker Witness subcommittees combined to form the Quaker History and Quaker Witness subcommittee in September 2021. 

“Quaker History” here refers to the history of Baltimore Yearly Meeting and its constituent parts –primarily Monthly Meetings (MM), but also the constellations of these MM’s as grouped into other Yearly Meetings, half-yearly, quarterly meetings, etc.   Monthly meetings are encouraged to develop timelines to share their origins and significant events and undertakings.   

“Quaker Witness” refers to Friends’ individual and collective effort to discern what it is that God requires of us. To inwardly and outwardly witness – testify – demonstrate – our understanding of how God would have us live.  Quaker Witness from 1672 to 2022 within BYM includes a wide range of concerns, such as religious freedom, peace, prisons, education, etc.  playing out in American history with all the people engaged.

Our Quaker History and Quaker Witness (QH/QW) Project is intended to help the ad hoc 350th BYM Anniversary committee, BYM clerks and Monthly Meetings and individual Friends by tracking people and resources, tracking on-going activism within BYM, and finding historical records of interest to Friends and others.

This is a collective endeavor -- in our view, Stone Soup.*  In the folktales, hungry soldiers offer to make stone soup for the village. In a similar vein, we encourage contribution and will organize what we are given.

As with all of BYM, as part of the ongoing Anti-racism work within BYM, we seek to be attentive and include Black, indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) as agents in their lives and find, report, encourage their voices, narratives, questions, and concerns.

Significant Quaker organizations (AFSC, FCNL, the Quaker United Nations Office, etc.) will be included in the chronological timeline [in progress] as do major statements and events outside BYM (e.g., the 1688 Germantown Declaration on Slavery.)

We are working on four products:

1)  A list of questions about what Friends find most meaningful in Quaker History and in Quaker Witness -- e.g., significant events in BYM history, evolving Quaker testimonies, how Quaker testimonies are corporately made manifest in the wider world, and specific questions about past and present Quaker Witness.

2)  An annotated bibliography by subject (with links, where possible);

3)  A list of notable persons, Friends or not, historical or current (to be added).

4)  A chronological timeline for BYM including historical events and/or notable Quaker responses -- (to be added) statements, minutes, actions; and consequences, where traceable. (Monthly meetings are encouraged to develop their own timelines to share their origins and significant events and undertakings.)   

 We encourage people to use the information we collectively have found to create new products.  (We will not be writing any summary reports for BYM).  We welcome references (ideally with links) for any additional resources they create.  We will add them to the lists.

These are works-in-progress and we will continue to work on them until the 2022 BYM Annual Meeting Sessions.   Please contact us with your contributions and suggestions.

The QH/QW subcommittee meets at 7:30 pm on the last Mondays of the month and has a Drop-In Group for anyone interested at 7:30 pm on last Mondays.  If you are not on the QH/QW mailing list, contact Denna Joy (contact information in the Yearbook) for Zoom links.  

Denna Joy (Richmond). Katherine Smith (Maury River) and Sharon Stout (Adelphi), co-convenors.

*See Gray Cox, et. al.  “A Quaker Approach to Research:  Collaborative Practice and Communal Discernment.”  Quaker Institute for the Future Pamphlet 7, Quaker Institute for the Future 2014.  


Ongoing Quaker Witness Project Question List

BYM 350th Anniversary Committee 

As of July 20, 2021


Quaker Witness

1.      What is “Quaker Witness?”  [E.g., see Pendle Hill pamphlet 397, Quaker Witness as Sacrament, Snyder]

2.      How have Friends understood Quaker Witness? 

3.      Has this understanding changed over time?

4.      Where (and how) did/do Friends document Quaker Witness? 

5.      How is Quaker Witness distinguished from individual/corporate custom, practice?  Within/in opposition to state religion/secular government?  [England, Holland, etc., US colonies – including Pennsylvania, US…] 

6.      Other?


Quaker Testimonies

1.       What are Quaker testimonies?  [Truth, peace, simplicity, equality?]

2.      Who first articulated Quaker testimonies?  

3.      Where are they recorded?

4.      How have Quaker testimonies changed over time?  [Addition of Community, Stewardship, “SPICES”]

5.      Does understanding of Quaker testimonies change with Quaker Witness?  If so, how?  

6.      Other? 


Quaker Witness [What areas do we include?] 

1.      Religious freedom for all 

2.      Peace/Opposition to war

3.      Prisons (reform, solitary confinement, death penalty, etc.) 

4.      Relations among people of different races -- however defined and conditioned. 

5.      Relations with Native Americans/indigenous people

6.      Education 

7.      BYM Camping Program  [100th Year Anniversary in 2022]

8.      Women’s Rights

9.      Environment 

10.   LGBTQIA+ 

11.   Other?  


Quaker Organizations/Institutions

[Where did Quaker Organizations begin, become formalized, etc.  More history than witness – but include here for interactions/boundaries re QW?] 

1.      Britain Yearly Meeting 

2.      Philadelphia Yearly Meeting 

3.      Baltimore Yearly Meeting [Founding, geographic boundaries, schisms, etc.]  

4.      BYM Monthly Meetings?  

5.      BYM-area Or Monthly-meeting affiliated organizations (e.g., school?) 

6.      Friends United Meeting (FUM)

7.      FUM Triennial 

8.      Friends General Conference (FGC) 

9.      American Friends Service Committee 

10.   Friends Committee on National Legislation

11.   Quaker United Nations Office 

12.   Other?   


Quaker Witness Areas – General Question List 

1.      What event(s) created the occasion for concern?   

2.      What initially was the concern?

3.      How/where did the concern arise?

4.      What was the original intention behind the Quaker statement, action?   

5.      Who is recorded as first articulating the statement, action? 

6.      What people were involved and how?  

7.      Who carried the concern – and to whom? 

8.      Who else adopted it?  Carried it?

9.      What relationship (if any) did the Quaker Witness have on events in the wider society?  Government?  

10.   What consequences (intentional or unintentional) followed? 

11.   Other? 


Notable Friends and Others

1. Who are the notable Friends and others whom we should remember?

2. What, if any, is there connection to Friends? To BYM?


Chronological Timeline for BYM in the Context of American History 

1.  At what point does relevant history begin?  1493?  1619?  1672?  

2.  At what events does American history intersect Where in history within BYM at events in American history and 


Submitted Questions (to be addressed)

1.      What role (if any) did BYM friends have in establishing other Quaker Organizations?

2.      What treaties were negotiated (e.g., by the Penn or Calvert families) with Native Americans?

3.      How did Whites come into possession of Native American land? What roles did Friends play?

4.      What roles did Friends play in the Revolutionary War?

5.      What schools were created within BYM territory and for whom? 

6.      When and how did a conception of Whiteness as a race arise? 

7.      Which enslaved Black people freed themselves?  E.g., lawsuits, escape, etc.  Did Friends help, hinder? 

8.      Which abolitionists worked within BYM/with BYM Friends? 

9.      Which Friends were abolitionists?  Which Friends (Johns Hopkins ?!) owned enslaved people? 

10.   When were concerns about civil rights raised?  For Native Americans, Blacks, LGBTQIA+ 

11.   How, when, and where did concerns about same-gender marriage arise?  

12.   Who were the Friends who helped with Catalan independence?  AFSC feeding program?  When? 



Living Voices

Current and Historical BYM Concerns

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