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Three centuries before the equality of women became a serious concern in most Western societies, Quaker women were exercising their status as full and equal members of the Society of Friends by producing tracts that broke new ground in religion, social reform, and literature.

Some 100 of them are reproduced on microfilm in this collection, which is sure to be of interest to researchers in English and American history, religion, and women's studies. It provides a fascinating look at the early history of the Society of Friends, from its founding in England in 1647 through the settlement of Pennsylvania and beyond. It also offers a rich compendium of women's writings at a time when the literary world was almost entirely male.

From its very founding the Society of Friends advocated equality between men and women, both internally and in the larger world. Female believers served effectively as theoreticians, religious writers, and "missionaries" to a society that often persecuted them.

These tracts represent Quaker values and activities during the English Civil War and Restoration--the Friends' humanitarian efforts, their calls for social and political reform, and their pursuit of inner spiritual experience rather than strict adherence to a particular religious creed.

The titles of the tracts reflect many of these concerns. There are "warnings" and "alarms" to the people of England, "lamentations" and "declarations" of suffering and persecution, and "salutations" and "visitations" of love. Though most were published in England, the tracts illuminate the reasons behind the Quaker emigration to North America and the founding of the Pennsylvania colony, as well as the core of current Quaker belief.

Materials in Quaker Women's Tracts have been microfilmed from three major collections of original Quaker literature:


  • The Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania
  • The Quaker Collection, Haverford College, Pennsylvania
  • The Lilly Library, Earlham College, Richmond, Indiana

About half the titles in the collection will also be included in UMI®'s ongoing Early English Books II collection.

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