The Library of the Religious Society of Friends in Britain is the repository for one of the most important collections of materials in the world relating to Quakers and their activities. As well as covering Quaker history and thought, the collection covers topics in which Quakers have been active such as peace, anti-slavery and relief work. The Library also holds the central archives and records of Britain Yearly Meeting.

Collections information

Books and pamphlets

The Library has over 80,000 books and pamphlets, including a unique collection of 17th century Quaker and anti-Quaker material. It is a reference collection, although we will sometimes loan duplicate copies of books less than 75 years old to registered readers in the UK only.

Periodicals

Over 200 titles are regularly received that are mainly Quaker related. They range from academic titles such as Quaker Studies and The Journal of the Friends Historical Society, to special interests such as Towards Wholeness (Friends Fellowship of Healing) to the newsletters and journals of other Yearly Meetings. We have complete runs of many titles, plus older titles that no longer exist.

Archives and manuscripts

The Library houses four broad categories of archival materials. They are:

  • the archives of Britain Yearly Meeting and its committees. These are committees responsible for the work of Friends in Britain and overseas.
  • the archives of London & Middlesex Quaker meetings
  • the archives of Quaker organisations that are not part of Britain Yearly Meeting, such as Friends Ambulance Unit; and a few non-Quaker organisations, such as Central Board for Conscientious Objectors
  • manuscript collections and papers of a wide variety of significant Friends, such as Margaret Fell and Elizabeth Fry.

Most collections are subject to a 50 year closure period. Some collections may be closed for longer in line with Data Protection legislation or other issues of confidentiality.

Meeting records

Records of Quaker meetings outside the London and Middlesex General Meeting area are not held in the Library, but are deposited in the appropriate local archives and libraries around the country. The National Archives have information on local archives and libraries on Discovery: National archives discovery (offsite link).

Visual Resources

The Library's visual resources collection includes photographs, lantern slides, paintings, drawings, prints, posters and some museum objects and costume. Subjects consist mostly of group and individual portraits of Friends, meeting houses and aspects of Quaker work at home and abroad.

Resource

World War I

Guide to our World War I collections and resources

For more subject guides see the other links on this page.

For enquiries about our collections Contact us.

Contact us

Library of the Society of Friends
020 7662 1135
library@quaker.org.uk