The Struggle for Gender Equality in Quaker MeetingsThe Struggle for Gender Equality in Quaker Meetingshttp://www.haverford.edu/calendar/details/261573Magill Quaker Collection2014-07-30T12:00:002014-07-30T13:00:00
July 30,2014 12:00PM–1:00PM
Magill Quaker Collection
Gest Fellow Isaac May will share his research and findings during his time in Haverford's Special Collections
Gender-segregated seating at Arch Street Meeting in Philadelphia, 1900.
The Struggle for Gender Equality in Quaker Meetings
A brown bag talk by Isaac May
Wednesday, July 30
Special Collections, Magill Library
Quakers are typically thought of as pioneers in the field of women’s rights, recognizing women’s ministry and playing a key role in organizing actions like the Seneca Falls convention. In reality Quakerism fell short of this promise of complete equality. Separate men’s and women’s meetings for business conducted all denominational affairs, and many Meetinghouses were physically separated by sex; wooden shutters pulled down to keep the two genders business meetings from mixing. It was widely understood that within the denomination that men had the real power.
At the end of the nineteenth century both the Hicksite and the Gurneyite Quakers in the United States eventually began to eliminate sex segregated Meetings for business. Yet the story of this transformation was not simply one of a triumphal march of progress. Women often fought bitterly because some were convinced that integration would destroy what influence they had within the Society of Friends. After a long battle they threw open the shutters of the meetinghouses and creating the co-gendered meeting for business, a pivotal part of the creation of modern Quakerism as it exists today.
Isaac May earned his bachelors degree from Earlham College and recently earned a masters degree from Harvard Divinity School. Starting this fall, he intends to pursue a doctorate in religious studies at the University of Virginia. His research focuses on modern American religion, especially liberal religion and Christian nonviolence. He has several published articles about Quaker history.
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