During the 19th century, the Religious Society of Friends, or Quakers, were among the religious groups of the time who made sure to “take care of their own,” by ensuring that sick, dependent, or disabled members of their congregations who came to their official attention were cared for. The Quaker process was heavily influenced by the book of discipline that each Yearly Meeting adopted as a set of rules for living for their members and that particularly described ways of dealing with the poor. This paper examines the Quakers of the early to mid-19th century, elements of the discipline of Indiana Yearly Meeting in particular, and examines the case of Samuel Price, who was supported as an “insane person” for 45 years. Use and interpretation of formal entries in the minutes of some parts of the Society of Friends in Indiana, in those days, is an important part of understanding what happened to Price, since the nature and extent of recording practices was deeply culturally embedded in the practices of Quakers who lived in a manner similar to that of Amish cultures in the 21st century. The paper touches on changes in the Midwestern culture that surrounded the Friends and how it affected them. Some indications of parallels for today are also examined.
Author(s): Timothy Lillie
Journal: The Canadian Journal of Disability Studies
Categories: All Categories