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THE CENTENNIAL OF THE FRIENDS HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION By John M. Moore* For many years the Bulletin of the Friends Historical Association carried on its title page the following notice: Friends Historical Association founded Twelfth month 4, 1873. Friends Historical Society of Philadelphia founded Fifth mondi 16, 1904. The two societies merged Twelfth month 1, 1923. We are therefore celebrating a double anniversary tonight: the 100th anniversary of the original establishment of the Friends Historical Association and the 50th anniversary of its merger with the younger but larger and more vigorous body, the Friends Historical Society of Philadelphia, thus forming the Friends Historical Association as we know it today. If you should look in the Bulletin (now called Quaker History) vol. 13, no. 1, for the spring of 1924, you would find there a brief account of what is called the Fiftieth Anniversary meeting of the Friends Historical Association, held on Twelfth month 4, 1923, in the Race Street Meeting House. It was written by Lucy B. Roberts, who presided at that meeting as the President of the newly combined body. She had previously been president of the Friends Historical Society of Philadelphia, and her vigorous support of the merger proposal undoubtedly had a great deal to do with its general acceptance. I quote the first paragraph of her article: "Believing diat in union there is strength, a combination has been effected by two organizations, making an epochal event in historical activity. Fifty years ago a Friends Historical Association was started by a number of Friends whom it is a pleasure to honor. They did active work until gradually they dwindled to only four in all. In the meantime, in 1904, the Friends Historical Society of Philadelphia was formed, with Isaac Sharpless, then President of Haverford College, at its head. The membership of this Society *John M. Moore is Professor Emeritus of Philosophy and Religion at Swarthmore College. From 1971-73 he served as acting director of the Friends Historical Library there. This paper was read at the annual meeting of the Association on Eleventh Month 26, 1973. 34 HISTORICAL ASSOCIATION35 gradually increased to over four hundred. On 12 mo. 1, 1923, by mutual consent and with much goodwill, the latter Society was merged widi the former, taking its name and charter."1 The same issue of the Bulletin contains a somewhat longer article, by Albert Cook Myers, on the original establishment of the Friends Historical Association in 1873.2 Most of what I shall say on this subject is based upon these two articles, but I have also looked at the minute books of the two organizations and I shall venture to supplement the earlier accounts on one or two points. On the evening of 12 mo. 4, 1873, nine Philadelphia Friends met at the home of Dr. S. Mason McCollin on the northwest corner of Fifth and Callowhill streets and took the first steps toward the formation of what was to become the Friends Historical Association . The date of this first meeting has become fixed in tradition as the date when the Association was founded. I make no serious objection to this tradition, but it might be pointed out that the minutes of this meeting refer to it as "an informal and preliminary meeting of persons interested in the formation of a Friends Historical Society."3 The nine Friends who were present approved the proposal and a committee was appointed "to prepare a statement of the objects of the association and of the proposed plan of conducting the same." When we remember what a great gulf separated the Friends called Orthodox from those called Hicksites in those days, we can rejoice that these nine men represented both branches: five of them were Arch Street Friends while four were members of the Race Street Yearly Meeting. When the permanent organization was effected, the original Board of Directors consisted of fourteen persons, and the two branches were equally represented. A second meeting was held at the same place on First month 8, 1874 and fourteen Friends were present. William J. Jenks was called to the chair, and Nathaniel E. Janney was appointed Secretary . The proposed constitution was presented by the committee...


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