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Overheard in GenForum: Early Quakers in Maryland
by Rhonda R. McClure

Each week Rhonda answers a question from the GenForum message boards and gives her expert answer here. We'd love to hear anything you have to add. Go ahead and leave your comments on GenForum with the original message.

August 5, 1999
See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Q: Am I correct that the Hinshaw books do not have records on Maryland? If so, what is the next best resource? I have seen a book listed by Phebe Jacobsen called Quaker Records in Maryland. Is that the best resource? If so, any ideas on where it is available? -- Sandra

A: Quaker records are one of the most useful records because of the unique system devised by George Fox. Minutes were taken at many of the different levels of meetings that the Quakers were likely to attend, which included:

  • Yearly Meetings
  • Quarterly Meetings
  • Preparative or Particular Meetings
  • Meetings for Worship
  • Indulged Meetings for Worship (no longer exists)
  • Monthly Meetings

Of all of these meetings, the one most useful to genealogists, is the Monthly Meeting. There are two different types of records that were generated by the monthly meeting, the minutes and the registers. The minutes are the ones in which you will find the vital statistics of entire families.

In order to do any effective research in Quaker records, you must first determine the monthly meeting for your ancestor.

William Wade Hinshaw's Work

When someone mentions Quaker records, it is inevitable that someone else will mention Hinshaw. The two go hand in hand. You are correct though that Hinshaw's work does not include all records from all the Quaker meetings.

His published volumes, six in all, are broken up by states.

  • Volume 1: Items of genealogical value found in records of the 33 oldest monthly meetings which belong or ever belonged to the North Carolina Yearly meeting of Friends
  • Volume 2: Items of genealogical value from records of four of the oldest monthly meetings which ever belonged to the Philadelphia Yearly meeting of Friends
  • Volume 3: Items of genealogical value from records of all meetings of all grades ever organized in New York City and on Long Island (1657 to present)
  • Volume 4: Genealogical records found in books of the 30 monthly meetings now belonging to the two presently established Ohio Yearly Meetings, Wilbur and Gurney Branches
  • Volume 5: Genealogical records found in books of the 21 monthly meetings now belonging to the Wilmington Yearly Meeting, Clinton Co., Ohio and Indiana Yearly Meeting, Richmond, Indiana
  • Volume 6: Items of genealogical value from records of monthly meetings belonging to the Virginia Yearly Meeting and Baltimore Yearly Meeting and marriage bonds of Campbell and Bedford Counties

In addition to these six volumes, the work done by Willard Heiss in transcribing the records of the Indiana meetings is very often listed as Volume 7 of Hinshaw, despite the fact that the work was done after Hinshaw's death.

Additional Hinshaw Quaker Records

What does a researcher do though if they discover that the monthly meeting they are in need of has not been included in Hinshaw's volumes? The published volumes of Hinshaw actually just scratch the surface, even in regards to his own work. The Friends Historical Library, Swarthmore College, has the largest collection of Quaker meeting archives. However, they also include The William Wade Hinshaw Index to Unpublished Quaker Records, which consists of some 285,000 three-by-five cards. These additional Hinshaw records have been microfilmed by the Family History Library.

The William Wade Hinshaw Index to Quaker Meeting Records in the Friends Library in Swarthmore College is a cross index that lists the surnames and indicates in what monthly meetings those surnames occur. You might find two microfilms in this collection interesting, and they are available from the Family History Library:

  • List of Meetings in William Wade Hinshaw Card Index (arranged by state) - FHL #0002147
  • Cross Index to Quaker Meeting Records (this is by surname) - FHL #0002148

The meeting minutes are then found on an additional 70 reels of microfilm.

Repositories of Quaker Records

As was mentioned earlier, The Friends Historical Library at Swarthmore College's collection is the largest collection of archives in either original manuscript or microfilm format. They were founded in 1871 for the express purpose of preserving the records of the monthly meetings under the jurisdiction of the Baltimore and Philadelphia Yearly Meetings. So for your research, this may be the place to go. If you cannot get to the library on your own, you will probably need to hire a professional, as the librarians cannot answer research requests. However, should you be able to visit in person, they will be able to assist you.

The address for the library is:

The Friends Historical Library
Swarthmore College
Swarthmore, PA 19081

Another repository that you may find useful and that is very close to Swarthmore (they are only about 10 miles apart), is the Quaker Collection found at Haverford College. This collection is primarily of published works by Quaker authors. Their address is:

The Quaker Collection
Haverford College Library
Haverford, PA 19041

In Conclusion

Finally, in regards to the book by Phebe Jacobsen, while I have not seen it, I discovered that it was catalogued in the Family History Library Catalog under MARYLAND - CHURCH RECORDS, INVENTORIES, REGISTERS AND CATALOGS. This leads me to believe that it is going to tell you where Quaker records can be found, rather than having the actual records for you to look at and search through. It was published in Annapolis, Maryland by the Hall of Records Commission in 1966.

You will want to search the FHLC at your local Family History Center or online, as there are a few books and a couple of microfilms for Maryland Quakers. And for a good online site, check out The Quaker Corner.

See Rhonda's Previous Columns

Rhonda R. McClure is a professional genealogist specializing in celebrity trees and computerized genealogy. She has been involved in online genealogy for fifteen years. She is the author of the award-winning The Complete Idiot's Guide to Online Genealogy, now in its second edition. She is the author of four how-to guides on Family Tree Maker. In late 2001, she wrote The Genealogist's Computer Companion. She is a contributing editor to Biography Magazine with her "Celebrity Roots" column and a contributing writer to The History Channel Magazine. Her latest book is Finding Your Famous and Infamous Ancestors. She may be contacted at

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