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Quakers and Abolitionism: Friends Manuscript Series

Slavery and Anti-Slavery Resources in the Friends Collection & Earlham College Archives

Introduction

FMS, or Friends Manuscript Series, contains the personal records of individual Quakers. For example, D. Elton Trueblood’s personal papers. (As opposed to his college related papers, which would be housed with the college records.) FMS collections cover a wide variety of topics and include letters, photographs, clippings, genealogical material, artifacts, poetry, and anything else that an individual or family might create in their lifetime with enduring value. A member of the Archives' staff will be happy to assist you if you wish to study one or more of these collections.

Friends Manuscript Collections

Earlham holds several manuscript collections that are useful for the history of the anti-slavery movement and the Underground Railroad in the Midwest. They include:

FMS 54: Levi Coffin Collection, 1825-1876

The collection consists of papers found in the attic of the Coffin house in Fountain City (1825-42), a copy of Coffin's will, numerous clippings relating to Levi Coffin and the Coffin house in Fountain City, and papers of the family of Levi's cousin Emory Dunreith Coffin (1824-63), whose daughter Louisa May was the ghostwriter for Levi Coffin's Reminiscences (1876).

FMS 1: Charles F. and Rhoda M. Coffin Collection

Series VI, “Quaker Activities and Subjects,” includes histories of local and yearly meetings, Quaker institutions and organizations, Earlham College, and Quaker events in which the Coffins participated. 

Series VIII consists of local history materials, clippings and reminiscences by Charles on topics including the National Road, Wayne and Henry counties, Indiana, antislavery, and eastern Indiana pioneers.

Series XIV consists of seven boxes of pamphlets, numbered 1 through 7.  Box 3 has annual reports (scattered) of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society.

FMS 10: Mordecai M. and Francis T. White Papers, 1731-1950

The White Papers consist of correspondence, legal papers, and photographs as well as genealogical materials. Of special interest are photographs and letters of slaves liberated by the Whites in North Carolina.

FMS 15: Huff-Nixon Family Papers, 1760-1976

The Huff-Nixon family papers consist of correspondence, legal and business papers, reminiscences, clippings, and genealogical materials of five generations of Quaker families in North Carolina and Indiana. Most of the material concerns the families of Samuel Nixon (1781-1865), his son-in-law Daniel Huff (1816-1899), and his son Dr. Oliver Nixon Huff (1852-1937) of Fountain City, Indiana, and Oliver Nixon Huff's wife, Sophia (Bogue) Huff (1866-1931).

The collection includes letters from family and Quaker friends, including letters from Friends at the Friends Shawnee school near what is now Lawrence, Kansas, and correspondence on business, politics, antislavery, education, and Quaker affairs. There are extensive files of clippings and reminiscent material on antislavery, including letters of Levi Coffin; on a party of Newport men who traveled to California seeking gold in 1850; and on local and Quaker history.

FMS 24: Josiah Parker Papers, 1787-1836

This collection consists of correspondence, account books, and business papers of Josiah Parker, a leading Quaker, farmer, and miller of the Richsquare community of Northampton County, North Carolina. It is rich in materials on Quaker life in North Carolina, the Quaker migration from North Carolina to Ohio and Indiana, the antislavery activities of North Carolina Friends, and the work of Friends in helping free people of color move from North Carolina and Virginia to Indiana.

FMS 33: Willard Heiss Collection

The Heiss Collection consists of extensive files on Quaker history and genealogy, as well as correspondence and documents reflecting the lives of Quakers especially in the Midwest and South.

FMS 46: Bell Family Papers, 1754-1967

The Bell Family papers document the lives of Quakers in Ireland and the United States. Most of the papers concern William Bell, a Quaker cotton manufacturer and editor of Belfast, Ireland, New York City, Cincinnati, and Richmond, Indiana.

The Bell Papers include several types of documents. Most of the correspondence dates from the period 1811-1813, being copies of letters to William Bell from his mother, apparently written while he was away from home attending school, and from the 1840s. The latter consists mainly of copies of letters by William Bell, with comments on his business situation, Quaker affairs, and slavery and antislavery.

FMS 63: Bulla Family Papers, 1824-1900

The Bulla Family papers consist of account books, correspondence, and genealogical materials of four generations of the family of William Bulla (1777-1862) and his wife Elizabeth (Hoover) Bulla (1778-1857) who were among the first Quaker settlers of Richmond, IN. The family was involved in the Todd vs. Bulla Case in 1825. "On September 10, 1825, Samuel Todd of Kentucky sued William Bulla and Andrew Hoover, from Wayne County, Indiana, each for $500.00 for loss of property. Todd accused the men of helping his slave Peter escape from an Indiana Jail." Regan-Dinius, Jeannie. (n.d.). The Underground Railroad in Indiana: New Research, New Connections, New Directions. Journal for the Liberal Arts and Sciences, 8(3), 31-36.

FMS 80: Embree-Thorn Collection, 1774-1997

The Embree-Thorn Collection consist of letters, essays, wills, and deeds from two Quaker families in South Carolina, Tennessee, and Ohio, mainly between 1774 and 1860. They reflect especially the westward movement, antislavery activities, and business transactions of Friends.

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