In the past year we have learned a lot about how to gather online as a community. Yearly Meetings, Quarterly and Monthly Meetings, and other Quaker organizations have been working to create community online and to find ways to allow Spirit to move us. As we transition from an all online world to a blended in-person and online one, it seems valuable to come together to share our learnings.
The Johnson House is Philadelphia’s only documented, accessible, and intact Germantown stop on the Underground Railroad. It is open to the public as a place of historic importance. Johnson House was built in 1768 and owned by a family of Quaker abolitionists who worked with free and enslaved people to secure a safe passage to freedom for numerous African Americans.
This is the second in a series of articles about Quakers who’ve impacted the fields of education and contributed to global scientific, medical, political, or economic leadership. The first article was published on September 23 and covered Elise Goulding, Ezra Cornell, and Johns Hopkins.
Nitobe Inazo (1862-1933) was a Japanese Quaker who became the first Under Secretary General for the League of Nations. Nitobe was born into a samurai family on Honshu, the main island of Japan. While in college, he became a Christian and later a Friend. In 1884, He moved to the US for post-graduate studies at Johns Hopkins University. There he began attending Quaker meetings, telling friends, “I very much like their simplicity and earnestness.”
Quaker education has always been grounded in basic principles of the Religious Society of Friends. Each child has that of God within, and Friends’ education is centered in truth, practical learning, scientific inquiry, simplicity, and concern for civic society.
Quakers have a long history of questioning power and engaging in social action for human rights and peace. Today, many Quaker schools or Quaker affiliated institutions of higher education frame their learning environments with social or civic responsibilities and define community expectations through the lens of Friends’ values while still honoring the individual.
As the United States grew from colony to nation, the Quakers advocated for and delivered universal pubic education in Pennsylvania, built colleges, and created private Quaker secondary and elementary schools. The motto of the William Penn Charter School; “Good Instruction is Better than Riches” dates back to its founding in 1689 and still serves to describe Friends’ fundamental belief that knowledge outperforms wealth over time.
In the United States, Quakers were key to the founding of Haverford College (Pennsylvania), Guilford College (North Carolina,) Earlham College (Indiana), Swarthmore College (Pennsylvania), Johns Hopkins University (Maryland), Cornell University (New York), and the Wharton School of University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania). All that does not mean that Quakers were perfect. As we see in the stories below, the were human and also strongly influenced by their own time and place.
The Nobel Prize was created through under Alfred Nobel’s November 1895 will. The bulk of Nobel’s fortune endowed a novel effort to award prizes in the fields of Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature and Peace, and the inaugural award was made in 1901.
Friends throughout history have made significant contributions in the fields of science, medicine, peace, art, manufacturing and industry, and economics (to name a few). Some of these Quakers, like Henry Cadbury–who accepted the Nobel Peace Prize on behalf of Quaker relief work done through AFSC–are well known to Quakers today. [Read more…] about Quaker Nobel Prize Winners: Emily Greene Balch, Philip Noel-Baker, Joseph Taylor, William Vickrey
The Friends International Bilingual Center (FIBC) is a Bolivian program that offers educational programs for children, young people, and adults in la Paz, Bolivia. Their programming is focused around human value and Quaker principles, and participants experience spiritual and intellectual growth centered in the belief that there is that of God in everyone.
In 2018, Friends at Burlington, Haddonfield, and Salem Quarters connected to discuss a program on meetings with dwindling memberships. Together, they explored ways to collaborate and increase communications and activities among the three Quarters. The idea for a South Jersey Quakers website emerged, one that would use the same name as the Facebook account already publicizing local events. The website is now live, and they are still building a variety of content to offer.
Today, Quakers are known to be actively involved in the creative and performing arts community; they are artists, actors, musicians, and lend their meetinghouses for art shows and performances.
It wasn’t always like this–George Fox (whose powerful vocal ministry sparked the Quaker faith in 1652) was against ornamentation in religion and viewed it as a distraction. Theater, dance, and musical performances were seen as leading Friends away from an investment in faith and virtuous reflection.
Over the years, that reality has evolved. Among many respected artists, Quaker artists have made a pronounced impact in their fields with their artistic abilities.