Quaker Historical Resources

This is a list of resources with comments for researching Quaker History.

A good place to start is the main repositories for genealogical information on the web.  In addition, The University of South Carolina has a small library of genealogies that were done before the internet.

all rights belong to the owner of this picture: https://www.swarthmore.edu/

MyHeritage – can search British christenings, US census.  This is free through my public library.  Warning: Much of the census information was conveyed orally to the census taker.  Standard spelling was not in place.  You will need to search for every conceivable spelling and abbreviation.  And then the information was transcribed to allow internet searches.  The transcriptions can sometimes be quite creative.

Ancestry(charge) – good for wills, marriages, old business directories, church records 

FamilySearch – good for estate inventories. I think it’s free.


It can be a little haphazard what you might find on these sites.  I have found good stuff on all of them.  As it is generated by amateurs, take what you find with a great deal of skepticism.

A good place to go to next is the South Carolina Department of  Archives.   The search facility is not intuitively obvious but quite powerful once you figure it out:


Some of the material is online.  Some of it is on microfilm.  The online info will tell you where to find the microfilmed material or you can pay the state a minimal amount to do it for you.  Be warned – generally any person or place mentioned in a document will be indexed but people and places do get missed.

You might want to then look at deed information.  Most of my research has been confined to the colonial to Civil War period.  And centered on Dorchester County, upper Berkeley County, and the part of Colleton County along the Edisto. 

Property transactions where land exchanged hands usually shows up in the Charleston Register of Deeds office.  They have a special section for older transactions under the Archives heading.  It can be a little tricky to navigate.  


Once you locate the book the deed is located in, you then search using the book identifier (B11) and a page number of 001.  It’s goofy and they do have people who will help you over the phone.  

If you have access to these books and your deed falls within the colonial/revolutionary war time period, you can shortcut the process by using 4 volumes of deed abstracts prepared by Clara Langley of the WPA and updated by Brent Holcomb.

But initial land grants are usually found in the South Carolina Department of Archives.


David Rumsey map collection includes Mills Atlas maps of South Carolina counties in the 1820’s.

For example


Mouzon map of 1775 of the Carolinas can be helpful


Colton’s 1854 map of Charleston and Colleton counties (and other SC counties)


1897 map of Dorchester County


Message boards can also be helpful.  Again you need to be skeptical. 

Ancestry message boards

For example: 

Our Hughes family – 3 brothers, and how they work out




Local historical societies and libraries can also be helpful.  The Charleston public library has a really good genealogy section.  And they also have microfilmed copies of old newspapers.  Ridgeville has a nice historical museum.

Among books, if you are doing Quaker genealogy, you might want to start with the Encyclopedia of American Genealogy by William Wade Hinshaw.


William Medlin has a helpful, maybe more user friendly South Carolina Quaker genealogy source: 

Medlin, William, Quaker Families of South Carolina and Georgia

Once you know the meeting your relative was connected with, you can usually locate the meeting minutes online.  Sometimes they read like print; sometimes they are illegible, at least online.  

Meeting minutes from Bush River


Sometimes the minutes are pro forma and sometimes they give you a good hint as to what’s going on in a meeting.  Also a good source for weddings and funerals.

Here are some books that I found helpful:

The 13 volume Friends Library published around 1830 contains the journals of several traveling Friends who visited South Carolina.  You can do an online search for Carolina to see where South Carolina is mentioned or search on particular persons.


Other Quaker resources:

southern quakers and slavery


Carroll, Kenneth, The Irish Community at Camden 

The Book of John Howell and his Descendants – the journal of a traveling Friend that was published independently. Carroll mentions several others that don’t make it into the Friends Library.

Books I haven’t really used but look like they would be useful for upcountry Friends:

Willard Heiss – Quakers in South Carolina Backcountry

Silas Emmett Lucas, Jr., Quakers in South Carolina

Summer, G. Leland,  /

Folklore of South Carolina : including Central and Dutch Fork sections of the state, and much data on the early Quaker and Convenanter customs, etc

A book that I found helpful for the part of South Carolina I have been researching:

McCurry, Stephanie, Masters of Small Worlds: Yeoman Households, Gender Relations, & the Political Culture of the Antebellum South Carolina Low Country.

In reading parts of Quaker journals dealing with South Carolina, you become aware that South Carolina was in the midst of the Second Great Awakening and the Methodist revival.  To understand what’s going on, you probably need some background in that.  

For example, these are the books that are on my reading list:

A Cautious Enthusiasm: Mystical Piety and Evangelicalism in Colonial South Carolina  – January 23, 2013

by Samuel C. Smith

A Place to Worship: African American Camp Meetings in the Carolinas by Minuette Floyd

The Origins of Southern Evangelicalism: Religious Revivalism in the South Carolina Lowcountry, 1670–1760 by Thomas J. Little

And then to understand the current culture:

Hallowed Ground: Primitive Camp Meetings of the South Carolina Lowcountry, Part I: Cattle Creek and Cypress Camp Meetings

Finally, two women that I came across in doing this research whose works I want to read:

Mary Shackleton Leadbeater – the Shackletons ran a Quaker boarding school near Timahoe in Ireland where many of the Camden Friends came from.  This is the famous explorer’s family.  Edmund Burke attended school there and corresponded with Mary Shackleton Leadbeater.  Not your usual Quaker journal.  

Annals of Ballitore, 

And  Biographical Notices of Members of the Society of Friends: Who Were Resident in Ireland

And a South Carolina woman I thought I might be related to for one day – Eliza Lucas Pinckney, who was the mother of the South Carolina Senator and Presidential candidate Charles Cotesworth Pinckney and who was a key player in the development of indigo as a cash crop.  Her journal brings home how difficult it was to survive sickness in the 18th century in South Carolina.

indigo girl by natasha boyd

Eliza Lucas Pinckney: An Independent Woman in the Age of Revolution

Women Of Colonial And Revolutionary Times: Eliza Pinckney; Journal And Letters Of Eliza Lucas Hardcover – September 10, 2010

by Harriott H. Ravenel (Author), Eliza Lucas (Author)

One other book to understand the pressures Friends were under in a deeply divided society during the Revolutionary War:

World of Trouble: A Philadelphia Quaker Family’s Journey through the American Revolution by Richard Godbeer 

This is about Henry Drinker who owned a ship that my Limehouse ancestor was captain of.