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Quaker Studies

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to suggest way s in which Quaker women Ministers, in a period of considerable doctrinal and secular change, used their journal writings as a tool to maintain their position within the Society of Friends. Expanding on previous work on Quaker women's spiritual autobiography, it suggests that these writings were not only written for spiritual purposes but also had a temporal dimension, providing women with an authorized 'voice' through which to express their concerns. The paper explores how in these writings Quaker women represented themselves, their work and their struggles when confronted with a male hierarchy, which for both doctrinal and temporal reasons, was progressively more determined to reduce their role and influence. Using both published and unpublished journals, this study suggests that Quaker women ministers knowingly promulgated their views and concerns through their journals to a wider audience and that their writing provided a useful and powerful medium for consciousness raising, ensuring that their readers were not only alerted to the women's concerns but were also encouraged to maintain the position of women within the organisation of the Society.

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