The Religious Society of Friends, better known as Quakers, consider the church to be made up of people, not buildings. Since they meet for worship once or twice a week and for business once a month, they call themselves a "meeting" and each officially recognized congregation is a "monthly meeting." They record business as "minutes." Quaker minutes can be a treasure trove for genealogists, because they often include membership transfers and requests for marriage.
A monthly meeting might include more than one meeting and those comprising the organizational structure of the full monthly meeting may include an "indulged meeting" or "preparative meeting." Membership matters pertaining to these groups are forwarded to the full monthly meeting and very few preparative meeting records are part of the archives. Sometimes one of these groups later became a separate monthly meeting as Friends became more established in that area.
When Friends began in the 1600s, governments didn't keep vital records such as births, deaths and marriages; they had been recorded by the Catholic and then the Anglican Church. Since Friends were Protestants who didn't believe in physical baptism and didn't use priests in marriage ceremonies, they were careful to record their own vital statistics.
The Research Room (120) in Hege Library is the highlight for visiting genealogists. As you come in, shelves on the left hold journals of local genealogical societies. Next are monthly meeting (church) histories and cemetery records, along with a handy binder of North American meetings (including previous names and state/county listings). Down the left side and into the back room are family histories, shelved roughly by surname.
As you go into the back room, you'll find a few North Carolina, county, and other genealogical books, but only for areas where Quakers historically settled. The small card catalog contains cross-references to surnames in the family history books. The “color-coordinated” books on the right are back issues of genealogical journals. The small bank vault contains microfilm and surname files – please ask the docent or librarian for assistance with those.
On the back wall of the main room you’ll find a treasure trove of genealogical extracts from Quaker meetings. Just to the right of the extracts are more handy binders, including a guide to out-of-state meetings, extracts of N.C. meeting land records, a list of popular manuscript collections, and Guilford College directories. Continue back to the entrance; the shelves on the other side of the door contain the bookshop for the N.C. Friends Historical Society.
Research Room Hours
Tuesday through Friday
9 a.m. - noon and 2 - 5 p.m.
*Those wishing to meet with a librarian and/or make use of specific sources are strongly encouraged to make an appointment in advance to guarantee availability.
Manuscripts, archival materials, and rare books, as well as most genealogical resources, are restricted to use during research room hours. Most Quaker books and periodicals and key college publications are available for consultation in Quaker book (Library 117) whenever the main Hege Library is open.