Quaker Archives Receives Manuscript Collections

Contributed by Gwen Gosney Erickson

This fall, Guilford’s Quaker Archives received several collections which are especially representative of their collection development priorities and of interest to both the College community and researchers beyond campus.  The archives has a special responsibility for comprehensiveness in documenting and for nurturing research relating to the spiritual, intellectual, and cultural heritage of Quakerism in the southeastern United States. It prioritizes acquisition of manuscript collections that meet this goal while also serving as informative primary sources for student researchers. These new collections provide unique sources relating to the lives of three notable North Carolina Friends.

The most recent donation is a collection of 19th-century documents kept through generations by descendants of Miles Lassiter (c. 1777 – 1850), a formerly enslaved man who was a member of Back Creek Friends Meeting in Randolph County, N.C. Based on research thus far, he was the only African American member of North Carolina Yearly Meeting when he died in 1850. These documents help complete the puzzle of his life as he navigated landownership and financial matters, including paying for medical care for his children, as he sought to establish a life of freedom for his family in North Carolina in the 1800s. The papers were donated by Miles Lassiter descendent Margo Lee Williams, who first connected with Guilford’s Quaker Archives early in her journey to discover her ancestor, which culminated in a book.

Willie Frye headshotThe Willie R. Frye, Jr. Papers were donated by Kathryn Frye Adams ’75. Her father, Willie Frye ’59 (pictured at right), served as an active and influential Quaker minister in North Carolina for many decades. The correspondence and sermons are already being used as a source material for a history thesis by a Guilford undergraduate. The collection has much information about Frye’s commitment to social justice and his evolving LGTBQ+ affirming theology, which often put him at odds with others in his community.

A single item arrived the same time as the Frye Papers. Bill Adams, son-in-law of Willie Frye, donated a piece of his own family history. Bill’s father, E. Edward Adams, was a young man committed to pacifism and his Quaker faith during World War I. He kept small notebook documenting his reading materials, thoughts on war and being a conscientious objector, and being sent in 1918 from Yadkin County, N.C., to Camp Jackson, S.C., to be held with other pacifists.

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