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"Monthly Meetings in North America: A Quaker Index"

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Data Definitions

Copyright © 1992-2017

Earlham College

Richmond, IN 43734-4095


"When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean ‑‑ neither more nor less."

"The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

"The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master ‑‑ that's all."

 Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter Six


"MONTHLY MEETING NAME"  The Index assumes that the user understands the typical functions of a Quaker monthly meeting for business as well as the larger bodies such as yearly meetings and quarterly meetings. Perhaps the authority to grant membership and conduct marriages (and the responsibility to maintain records of those actions) best defines a "monthly meeting" in those situations when no formal disciplinary rules fully delimited the term. Historically, it did not equate to a single place of worship; I intend to include as separate entries only meetings granted the independent authority of a monthly meeting for business (now called in some yearly meetings a "full church") and to reference lesser meetings only in the Subordinate Meetings fields. The first field contains the current name of the meeting, without the designations "Monthly Meeting" or "Friends Church" unless the body has taken First Friends Church as its formal name.

I list the branch in parenthesis if at any time more than one monthly meeting of that name existed at that place. I try to use the most-common terms for the branches at each successive separation (other than the Great Separation, often the name of the first men's Clerk), and the yearly-meeting descriptions elsewhere on the website set out the terms I use. For "Hicksite" meetings [other than in Philadelphia Yearly Meeting] that continued after the organization of FGC in 1900, I list the branch as "FGC." For "Orthodox" meetings that continued after 1902 in a yearly meeting that joined the Five Years [now Friends United] Meeting, I list the branch as "FUM." For "Gurneyite" Orthodox meetings that continued after the organization of Evangelical Friends Alliance in 1965 or its parent yearly meeting's later joining of EFA or EFI, I list the branch as "EFI." I do not list the branch in the Name if only one group ever existed with that name in that location or if the most recent meeting resulted from a merger of two or more meetings from different branches.

I placed the main body of the printed Index in ALPHABETICAL ORDER by monthly-meeting name, using the ASCII values of the characters, including the branch, parentheses and ampersands. The Search tab applies the same method. My geographical data lists the county and location where the meeting held its last or latest business sessions. In a few cases the database now reflects meetings that had members or congregations in multiple counties.

 "WEBSITE"  I have six website possibilities: (Meeting) Website, Records, Preparative Records, Genealogy Searches, Historical Website, Another Website.  The first shows the monthly meeting's official website, if available. The Records website will normally have more-current information than my Records Known Extant field.  In part because websites change so often, if I also identified an unofficial website specific to the meeting or if the parent yearly meeting provides another website, I list it as Another Website.

"FORMER NAME(S)"  Former names, informal names and the like, including the dates during which the group used such a name, if available.

"STATE"  This field contains the U.S. or Mexican state or the Canadian province of the latest principal or largest worship group. In a few cases the Comments field will describe earlier locations or the location of a second worship group.  Also, I have listed counties for a few Subordinate Meetings.

"COUNTY"  Again, the county, parish or borough encompassing the principal or largest worship group. Before 1900 when most monthly meetings had more than one worship location, some of the local members lived in another county than the ones I list. For a few monthly meetings I have noted a second or third nearby county that had significant members. Also, I have noted townships and counties for many Subordinates; a General Word Search for "** CTY" would return any such reference from the Subordinates field. For some of the early meetings, especially in Virginia and Maryland, I ran out of space in the Subordinates fields and noted a few locations only in the Comments field. One cannot search the Comments field, so you will only find those meetings if you find another reference to that county in another subordinate or as to the monthly meeting.

"PHYSICAL LOCATION"  The current post office encompassing the physical location of the principal or largest worship group in the monthly meeting, with the postal code, community name and street address (current designation) where available. [This reflects not a mailing address but a physical location; in most instances, the Postal Service cannot deliver mail sent there.] I use the latest or last address for business sessions; in a few instances I record significant earlier addresses in the Comments field, and I have indicated geographical locations with some Subordinate meetings.

"LATITUDE" and "LONGITUDE" for the last principal location were added late in the research, and the author would welcome additions and corrections from any user.

(Note: I list dates in year/month/day order for easier computer manipulation and database searches. I number the months according to the current calendar; thus, for example, the month 05 refers to May even before 1752, while most Quakers and other Americans in those years would have referred to May as "Third Month".)

"DATE GRANTED"  The date of the parent (most often quarterly) meeting's action approving the establishment of the monthly meeting or recognizing it as an independent meeting. "BEF" means before; "AFT" means after; "CA" means circa (a guess, sometimes educated). Hinshaw's abstracts and many histories refer to this as the date the meeting was "established."

"DATE OF FIRST MEETING"  The date of the first business meeting of the monthly meeting as a monthly meeting. I try to reference earlier business sessions of the congregation in the Before & After field. Some histories refer to this as the date a committee of the quarterly meeting or the Church Extension Board "established" the meeting.

"DATE LAID DOWN" The date of the parent meeting's action authorizing discontinuance. It may either proceed or follow the last business session of the monthly meeting. If the monthly meeting merged into another (as when two branches of the yearly meeting reunited), this field will reflect "MERGED" for the smaller participant(s) in the merger, and I treat the larger predecessor monthly meeting (usually that where business sessions continued) as having continued without interruption. For currently-active meetings, this line will read "Current Status: ACTIVE."

"DATE OF LAST MEETING" The date of the last business session ever held as a monthly meeting. I attempt to reference subsequent activity as a meeting for worship, a preparative meeting or an extension church in the Before & After field.

"BEFORE & AFTER"  This field contains the name of the monthly meeting from which this group was set off and the dates of existence of the established meeting for worship and preparative meeting prior to the establishment or after the discontinuance of the monthly meeting [the foregoing very much resembling a meeting genealogy].

"BRANCHES"  For a meeting that experienced a separation or separations, a separate line reflects the dates of choosing a branch. Researchers should understand that after the date of separation two or more meetings often claimed status as the true "Friends," used the same monthly-meeting name and kept separate records under that same name; one may need to review the records retained by another branch to find all references to any particular individual. Hinshaw's researchers did not always benefit from having access to the records of all branches, but they attempted to combine in each entry the information from all records they had located from any branch.

"LATEST YEARLY MEETING"  The current or latest name of the latest yearly meeting or meetings with which the monthly meeting became affiliated, with a designation of branch only when more than one yearly meeting at any time bore that name. Thus, for example, I list herein meetings established and laid down in the 1850s under Indiana Yearly Meeting (Hicksite branch) under the yearly meeting name adopted in 1975, "Ohio Valley Yearly Meeting," a name that could not have appeared in any records of their time. Similarly, I list meetings under the larger (sometimes called "Progressive" or "Gurneyite") branch of Kansas Yearly Meeting under Evangelical Friends Church Mid-America, a name adopted in 1978 and revised in 2001. I include as "yearly meetings" nearly all groups using that term as well as other bodies that have established monthly meetings or that provide the initials for a branch of Friends. The separate "Yearly Meetings" tab lists the yearly-meeting names used, with references to their official records-storage locations.

"WHERE RECORDS KEPT"  The location of the largest storage of official records, followed by the locations of smaller groups of records. The code "mf" before a location denotes that I have identified only a microfilm copy at that location. "mf" at the end of the line means the collection of the parent yearly meeting's microfilmed records include the records of that meeting and, generally, that a microfilm copy is available at the principal depository listed earlier in the same line. "LDS" means that the Genealogical Society of Utah in Salt Lake City has microfilmed some of the records and that therefore researchers can review prints through the Family History Centers located in many local church buildings of the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints. The relevant reel numbers for the LDS or other collection follow the entry if known. Often only a portion of the early records have been microfilmed, and sometimes the same records have been microfilmed more than once. The "Records Known Extant" field below lists the locations for some original records, but I have not tried to list which microfilm reels encompass which original volume unless I can locate only microfilm. Researchers will probably find more satisfactory a review of the index of records of the "Society of Friends" on microfiche at a local LDS Family History Center or an on-line index of the records to obtain a better idea of the scope of the records available before ordering copies or traveling to review the microfilm. I generally do not list in this field the location of unofficial records, such as the Hinshaw meeting-history and vital-information cards that Swarthmore retains <>, the James Hazard genealogical data on every member of any New York Yearly Meeting body (now available online through Swarthmore's website), or the Heiss typescripts of the Hinshaw data for certain meetings that exist in various libraries and in Selby Publishing's publications. Because of the value of the Hinshaw work, I have tried to note in the "COMMENTS" field which meetings the Hinshaw researchers abstracted.

The "RECORDS KNOWN EXTANT" field (new in the 1997 Fourth Edition and by no means complete) collects such information as I could locate as to the specific volumes of original records at each of the locations in the preceding field. I attempt to list pre‑division records under each of the branches of the monthly meeting even though only one branch kept the records. Thus, for example, genealogists might use this field to find all the pertinent records for each individual they seek to trace through a particular monthly meeting.

I did not omit any preparative meeting minutes I located or a depository reported; I find them significant because this group dealt first with membership applications and breaches of discipline. However, I generally detail PM minutes only with the last monthly meeting to which the PM reported, even though its earlier reports went to another monthly meeting for final action. (If you wish to canvas every PM in a monthly meeting, you can determine which reported to a monthly meeting at any time by using the General search feature.)

Due to space limitations, I freely used abbreviations and I omitted some minor records for meetings otherwise using all the space available at that time. Following the usage in some but not all depositories, "MIN" references both men's and joint minutes. I hope the abbreviations convey the general sense of the records type. I encountered most difficulty describing the body charged with overseeing the spiritual state of the membership, called at various places and times "ministers and elders," "ministry and oversight," "ministry and counsel," the "pastoral committee" or "worship and ministry." I have combined such records as one entry per records depository even where the body changed its title within the dates I reflect.

"AFFILIATIONS"  The current or latest names of all other quarterly, area and yearly meetings or similar bodies with which the monthly meeting has affiliated since it first became a monthly meeting and the dates of affiliation, in ascending chronological and hierarchical order. (The dates of affiliation reflect the superior body's sessions, not the monthly meeting's sessions.) Where a quarterly meeting has simply changed its name (without restructuring or merger) after it acquired jurisdiction over the subject monthly meeting, I show the earlier name(s) in parentheses. Until the 20th Century, these superior bodies kept thorough minutes reflecting the location and representatives from the monthly meetings reporting to them. Their records can constitute a helpful source of vital information because they reflect any appeals of a monthly meeting's disciplinary actions.

"LOCAL‑RELATED HISTORIES"  This field contains local-meeting histories and other volumes I have identified devoting significant space to the history or membership of this particular monthly meeting and its subordinates.

"COMMENTS"  This field contains other information that might help researchers and whatever else caught the compiler's fancy. I try to reflect official and "unofficial" Hinshaw citations in this field. I also added some Subordinates and geographical locations when all 16 Subordinates field were already taken, and I added some Local-Related Histories when that field was already full.

"SUBORDINATES" This field contains the names and dates of existence of any preparative meetings, formally-established meetings for worship, worship groups, extension churches, or former monthly meetings attached to this monthly meeting upon their discontinuance. The abbreviation "PM" refers both to preparative meetings in the traditional sense of a congregation that prepares business in advance of the monthly meeting and to preparative (sometimes called "preparatory") meetings as used for some 20th- or 21st-Century groups that prepare for monthly meeting status. "W." refers to meetings for worship established by formal action of the quarterly meeting or monthly meeting. "WGs" refers to worship groups, and I have included them particularly before the formal adoption of preparative meetings in the 1720s or 1730s, for monthly meetings that never had more than one preparative meeting, and for 20th- and 21st-Century yearly meetings that make no provision for preparative meetings. Where the monthly meeting had fewer than 16 subordinates, I have started to use blank lines to indicate in brackets the address and county [abbreviated CTY, not CO] of the subordinate. I continued the practice of adding locations into the Comments field for some monthly meetings with numerous subordinates. The default assumption is that subordinate meetings were in the same state as the monthly meeting's final location shown above; I only list states in this field if some subordinates' states are different.

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