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Truth and Suffering in the Quaker Archives

Truth and Suffering in the Quaker Archives

(p.239) 10 Truth and Suffering in the Quaker Archives
Archives and Information in the Early Modern World
Brooke Sylvia Palmieri
British Academy

Using the records and publications of the Quakers, this chapter considers the religious and political context behind the creation of the Quaker archive and the relationship between scribal material and print culture in making meaning. The story of Mary Fisher’s (c.1623–1698) trip to Constantinople to convert the Sultan of the Ottoman Turks provides a valuable case study in how a letter became an archival document before circulating widely in print. Initially a product of the zealous, evangelical epistolary culture that characterised Quaker writings of the 1650s, it was transferred into the public archive created during the extreme persecution of the 1660s to situate the Quakers within a longer history of suffering. Later it was used to advance the political argument for toleration by offering an instance of Muslim hospitality in counterbalance to Christian cruelty. The chapter highlights how changing historical contexts transform the nature of the truth of archives.

Keywords:   Quakers, archives, manuscripts, epistolary culture, print culture, history of the book, John Foxe, Mary Fisher

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