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BOOK REVIEWS59 think that anything will outlast the Truth, which standeth sure and is over that which is out of the Truth; for the good will overcome the evil; and the light, darkness; and the life, deathSo be faithful and live in that which doth not think the time long." Kendal at LongwoodElizabeth Gray Vining The Quaker Family in Colonial America. By J. William Frost. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1973. viii, 248 pages. $12.95. Current efforts to combine the concepts and contributions of more than one discipline in studying Quakers find expression in a most helpful and illuminating fashion in this volume by Professor Frost. He has used a sociological approach in examining the colonial Quaker family which gives his readers many new insights into die way in which members of the Religious Society of Friends lived two centuries ago. The volume falls in three parts: a background section on the nature of Quakerism, especially as it related to the family; a study of the Quaker family; and an analysis of the Quaker style of living. Frost has studied Friends in a broad context, frequently comparing their attitudes and practices with those of Puritans, and to some degree, he has patterned his work on earlier studies of this larger religious element in colonial society. The book's description of the spiritual guidance as well as die intellectual training given to children by Friends indicates that such tasks were regarded as important by colonial parents. They were not only concerned about the earthly and eternal welfare of their children, but also the future of the Society. Once the number of new persons joining Friends declined sharply, it was obvious diat the future of die Society rested in large measure on keeping children faidiful to the practices and beliefs of their families. Despite this concern, Frost gives ample documentation to indicate diat Quaker education frequently fell far short of the ideal. The number of disownments for "marrying out," and for other infractions, is another indication that this effort was often less dian satisfactory. Frost concludes that women were not treated as equals by Friends in die colonial period even though tiiey were given more rights than women generally. They were regarded as spiritual equals, and had as much right to speak in meeting for worship as men. Furthermore, women ministers were as likely to go on pastoral visits to other meetings as the men, but the women's meeting was not regarded as equal to men's meeting for business. Before entering into marriage, women had considerable freedom, and were allowed to decide whom diey would marry, but in marriage diey had a subordinate role, even tiiough it was usually greater than that enjoyed by nonQuaker women. The fact that there were notable exceptions to diis general conclusion does not invalidate it. While Frost has endeavored to incorporate the entire colonial Quaker world in his study, from New Hampshire to Georgia, he has in fact written primarily about Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Meeting records are generally available for all parts of American Quakerdom, for Friends were very careful to produce and preserve official records. However, the family letters, the journals which go beyond a mere recital of events, and odier material which can illuminate die conditions of die period, are much more plentiful for the 60QUAKER HISTORY Delaware Valley than for other regions, widi die exception of Rhode Island. Descriptions of Friends by foreign travelers and other non-Quaker observers also tended to concentrate on eastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey. While there were some regional differences in Quaker practice from one area to another, such variations were influenced more by local patterns than by any difference in Quaker beliefs and practices. The Society of Friends was remarkably homogenous in the eighteendi century. In this illuminating examination of the Quaker way of life in die colonial period, Professor Frost does not gloss over some of die weaknesses, inconsistencies and failings of his subjects. While he has described the general situation in quite positive terms, he also cites examples of those who failed to live up to the expectation of the prevailing discipline of die period. Aldiough he has not changed...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1934-1504
Print ISSN
0033-5053
Pages
pp. 59-60
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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