Your Guide to Finding Quaker Ancestors
(The Religious Society of Friends)
Consider yourself fortunate if you discover ancestors who were members of the Religious Society of Friends. They kept very good records, many of which have been extracted and published.
General Guides * Finding and Using Quaker records * Transcripts & Abstracts * Record Repositories * Other Websites & Links*
General Guides to Researching Quaker Ancestors:
Our Quaker Ancestors: Finding Them in Quaker Records (find in a library)
If you have ancestors who were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), you may want to spring for this book. It costs under $20 and only covers the United States, but it serves as a good, basic reference to research. N.B. It was published in 1987, so will not contain references to the internet. You can buy if from GPC. I recommend it.
Finding and Using Quaker Records
The Religious Society of Friends kept excellent records of the many meetings. Of most importance to the genealogist are the records of the monthly meetings. You must both find the records and learn to use them.
These articles can help you get started:
- Ancestry.com's (free) Research Guide to Finding Your Quaker Ancestors (.pdf)
- Understanding Quaker marriages
- Take Time to Note: The 1752 Calendar Change has a paragraph that explains the specifics of Quaker dating (scroll down)
- Quaker meeting record abbreviations
And these guides can give you a more in-depth understanding
- The Mary L. Cook Public Library published a helpful guide: "Friendly Research: An Introduction to Quaker Genealogy with a List of Internet Sources." This guide focuses on Quakers in SW Ohio, but it also contains a significant amount of general material.
- BYU Research Guide: Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) Genealogical and Historical Records. (.pdf)
Most records of genealogical significance are kept by the Monthly Meetings, so you must find the meeting that has the records you seek.
- See Quaker Records by State for a listing of the meetings, supplemented by a very helpful bibliography of secondary source material.
- Quaker Meetings will let you find a meeting by locality and tell you where the records are kept -- use the tabs at the top to navigate this very helpful website, maintained and kept up to date by Thomas C. Hill, who originally published this information in a book: Monthly Meeings in North America: A Quaker Index.
When searching for Quaker records in the Family History Library catalog, do a place search of country or state as well as county or town. They will be found under church records. Search also under the subjects Quakers and Society of Friends.
Published transcripts and abstracts: (Hinshaw and Heiss)
- Hinshaw's 6 volume Encyclopedia of American Quaker Genealogy is now available on CD .
- GPC also sells an index to the 6 volume paper edition (you wouldn't need an index with the CD) ans well as reprint of each of the 6 volumes.
- vol. 1 North Carolinia
- vol. 2 New Jersey/Pennsylvania
- vol. 3 New York
- vol. 4 Ohio
- vol. 5 Ohio
- vol. 6 Virginia
- This set is available at Ancestry.com. (but you would have to sign up for a free trial to Ancestry.com and if you do, be sure to cancel early if you don't want to pay for it.)
- When you first see information in Hinshaw you might thing you are reading a foreign language...
- "Using Hinshaw" provides a brief guide to using the Hinshaw collection.
- Hinshaw does not include the Indiana meetings, which are coved in Heiss' Abstracts of the Records of the Society of Friends in Indiana, also a 6 volume set. (find in a library)
- These two sets are available in most large libraries with genealogical or historical collections.
- There are other meetings not covered in Hinshaw, some published separately. These volumes cover many, but by no means all, meetings in the United States.
Major Quaker Record Repositories in the United States:
- Friends Historical Collection. Guilford College.
- Friends Historical Library. Swathmore College. -- see especially Quaker History & Genealogy section.
- Quaker & Special Collections. Haverford College
- Friends Collection Earlham College
- Indiana Historical Society has a notable collection of material pertaining to Indiana Quakers
Very Helpful Websites
- Most Helpful Website for researching your Quaker ancestors
- FamilySearch Wiki: Society of Friends (Quakers) in the United States
- To find out about records in other countries search the wiki for Society of Friends [country], e.g. Society of Friends Ireland
- Quaker Information Center: Genealogical Research
- National Society Descendants of Early Quakers
- Publish a journal titled Plain Language
Find more online at Cyndi's List : Quaker
Return to Bobbie's Genealogy Classroom
This page last updated April 29, 2016