The Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) led and sustained the abolitionist movement in Britain and North America, particularly after the Quaker reformation of the eighteenth century. Quaker women provided vital leadership in many of the female anti-slavery societies established in the nineteenth century. For example, Hicksite Quakers Lucretia Mott, Esther Moore, and Lydia White were among the founding members of the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Historians cite the PFASS as being in the vanguard of the abolitionist movement both for its activism and for its integrated membership.
In November 2010, Swarthmore and Haverford Colleges will join with the McNeil Center of Early American Studies at the University of Pennsylvania to host an international conference on Quakers and Slavery. To support the conference, the Quaker repositories at Swarthmore and Haverford have digitized numerous primary source materials, which are available through Triptych, a searchable online database of special collections from Swarthmore and Haverford as well as Bryn Mawr. Project staff have also developed Quakers and Slavery an online exhibit featuring links to the primary source materials in Triptych as well as commentary by established scholars, Quaker researchers, and project staff. Divided into three helpful categories — Themes, People, and Organizations — the commentary enhances users’ understanding of the primary source materials available through the project.
Several sections focus on the history of Quaker women in the anti-slavery movement:
Radical Quaker Women and the Early Women’s Rights Movement
Learn about radical Quaker women by exploring their role abolition in Pennsylvania and the early Women’s rights movement. Topics discussed include the American Anti-Slavery Society, rural Quaker women, and the first Women’s Rights Convention held at Seneca Falls, New York, 1848.
Rescue of Jane Johnson
In 1855, the slave Jane Johnson and her two children travelled through Philadelphia with their master, John Hill Wheeler. Johnson sent a message to the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society that she wished to escape, and on July 18, Passmore Williamson, William Still, and five other free blacks confronted Wheeler and escorted Johnson and her children to freedom. The event was one of the first challenges to the 1850 Fugitive Slave Law. Passmore Williamson, William Still and the other free blacks were charged for their role in Johnson's 'abduction;' Lucretia and James Mott sheltered Johnson during the trial so that she could testify on her rescuers' behalf.
Biographical entries include a relationship map, which traces relationships among various Quaker supporters of abolitionism including:
Ruth Dugdale and Sarah B. Dugdale
Ruth Dugdale (1801-1896) rivaled her husband, Joseph, in her zeal for reform causes. She was a respected Quaker minister, and participated actively in anti-slavery, temperance, women's rights, and other movements in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Iowa.
Sarah B. Dugdale (1787-1880) was the mother of Joseph A. Dugdale and the progenitor of his liberal ideals. She was involved in the American Anti-Slavery Society nearly from its founding, continued to participate in Progressive Friends societies and other reform movements until her death in 1880.
Lucretia Coffin Mott (1793-1880)was a prominent Philadelphia Quaker minister and a leader in reform movements, especially antislavery, education, peace, and women's rights.
The site also includes important resources such as a glossary of Quaker terminology (many with links to primary sources explaining those terms), an interactive map, and a timeline of the anti-slavery movement.
Images from Quakers and Slavery.