the friend online
18 August 2006


From Salem to freedom - preview
A new website detailing Quaker involvement in aiding slaves in America to freedom during the 1800s has recently been launched from Iowa by Doug Hamilton
  • It features replicated posters and newspaper advertisements demanding the return of slaves and also has a transcript of a fugitive slave case from September 1848

  • Many interesting underground stories are posted on this website
  • These include accounts of how a particular Quaker, Nathan Kellum, helped slaves escape via an underground railroad which effectively allowed slaves to flee from Salem to Canada

  • Priscilla Santhosham

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    Metford Robson, 22 August
    I read the review of the new website dealing with the Quaker involvement in aiding slaves in America to freedom during the 19th century with great interest, but the statement that from as early as 1668, men and women Friends met for worship separately was incorrect.

    In the USA, they habitually met for worship on separate sides of the one room with the dividing shutters up. When they commenced their separate meetings for business, the shutters were simply drawn down, which was of course a neat way of ensuring a full attendance at such meetings! By contrast, in the UK the dividing shutters created a larger and a smaller space and Friends met for their joint weekly worship in the larger space, with the benches divided down the middle by an aisle, to create a 'womens side' and a 'mens side.' When they separated for their Meetings for business, women Friends retreated to the smaller space, which was usually referred to as the Womens Meeting Room. The shutters could however be drawn up for larger joint gatherings.

    It apparently did not occur to British Friends that it was somewhat unequal to ask women Friends to retreat to a separated area, but there are one or two Meeting Houses, such as Kendal and Darlington, where American practice might have been possible, as the facing Elders and Ministers benches extended across both spaces and the shutters divided the room into equal parts.

    It is of course correct that the separate seating of men and women for worship was the usual practice from the earlist days, but this was by no means unique to Friends. In Northern Ireland the arrangement continued until the 1940s, but it was also common in Catholic and Presbyterian churches..

    So far as Friends are concerned, the separation of men and women for business meetings may today seem archaic, but the fact that women met for a business at all was a huge advance on the time and they doubtless felt that they could speak more freely in such circumstances. Men neverthless took most of the major decisions. They would, wouldn't they!


    This week's .pdf
    In this week's online edition... rss edition
    Religious Experience And The Reality Of God
    Reg Naulty, Canberra Meeting
    'One cannot walk without a guide' – Augustine
    Laurie Andrews, Witham MM
    The Inspired Quaker Meeting 1: Restoring Gospel Order
    Derrick R. Whitehouse Northampton and Wellingborough MM
    The Inspired Quaker Meeting 2: Variants in personality and spiritual perspectives
    Derrick R Whitehouse Northampton and Wellingborough MM
    Advices & Queries, #43: Live adventurously
    simon gray, warwickshire monthly meeting
    The Spiritual Revolution
    Tim Baynes, ex Industrial Mission, attender at Kendal Meeting
    Farewell to Friends House
    Linda Craig, Quaker Peace & Social Witness
    Who guards the guards?
    Juliet Lyon, Prison Reform Trust
    A vulnerable victim?
    Alan Sealy
    From Salem to freedom
    Priscilla Santhosham
    Judy Kirby & Chris Griffin with Leon Spence

    News Round-up
    Who guards the guards?
    Juliet Lyon
    To Use or Not to Use?
    Simon Best
    Friendly facts
    Helena Chambers
    Witnessing miracles
    Allan Holmes
    Faith: Extra articles to energise

    International news
    Priscilla Santhosham
    Today in history: 18 August
    Priscilla Santhosham

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