“What is Quaker Studies?” asked Grigor McClelland in the first George Richardson Lecture, delivered in 1996. Contemplating the potential for fruitful scholarship in the field, McClelland concluded his lecture by positing two criteria to assess research results in Quaker studies: first, the “value to Friends in understanding themselves better,” and second, the value to non-Friends “in understanding better what Quakerism has to offer.” Certainly the past twenty years of scholarship in Quaker history have given rise to a robust literature that has greatly expanded understandings of Quakerism from within and without the faith. The field has become much less sectarian. NonQuakers have been welcomed into the study of Quaker history, bringing new perspectives and insights to the field. And, the role of Quaker history as integral to mainstream history is recognized in publications like The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies (2013) and The Cambridge Companion to Quaker Studies (forthcoming).
This lecture surveys some of the changes in Quaker history over the past twenty years, specifically focussing on the conversations between the centre’s and margins within Quaker history and between Quaker and non-Quaker historical narratives. The lecture points to spaces for greater inclusion of voices from the edges of Quaker history, whether geographic peripheries or subsidiary periods, and argues
for even more dynamic exchanges between Quaker and mainstream histories, noting the contribution each makes to the other. The lecture will also explore the unique and important contribution of Quaker archivists to the work of Quaker historians.
Robynne Rogers Healey is professor of history as well as co-director of the Gender Studies Institute at Trinity Western University in Langley, British Columbia, Canada. She is currently chair of the Conference of Quaker Historians and Archivists. Her publications include From Quaker to Upper Canada: Faith and Community among Yonge Street Friends, 1801-1850 (McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2006) and a number of articles on Quakers and Quakerism, including a recent chapter on Quietist Quakerism in The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies and an examination of George Whitehead in Early Quakers and Their Theology. Her research interests include gender and Quakerism, the transatlantic world in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the twentieth-century peace testimony, and Canadian Quakerism. When she is not at her computer or in a book, she can most often be found in her garden or among the goats, horses, and dogs on her family farm in British Columbia’s scenic Fraser Valley.