Friends Theological College in Kaimosi, Kenya, is set to accommodate the first ever Quaker history archive in Africa. The new Africa Quaker Archive at FTC is a collaborative project of the Quaker Religious Education Collaborative, East Africa Steering Circle (QREC-EA) and Friends Theological College (FTC), a ministry of Friends United Meeting. Members of these two organizations have combined to form the Africa Quaker Archive Working Circle. The archive will be accommodated at the Edith Ratcliff Library at FTC Kaimosi.
The leading for the Africa Quaker Archive rose at a QREC Sunday School teacher training at Friends Theological College in January 2019. The facilitators told the story of East African Friend, elder and minister, Priscilla Makhino, to demonstrate the Faith & Play™ style of storytelling. When the 26 East African participants heard a piece of their own history for the first time, a deep yearning to know more took hold! They wanted to have the resources to share stories of Quaker faith from earlier generations of African Friends with their Sunday School classes, and to document stories of faith and witness in a form that can be passed along to future generations.
This vital and time-critical work will gather and preserve key pieces of contemporary Quaker history. It combines recording and transcribing oral histories with the collection of personal documents and institutional records going back to 1902 when Quakerism came to East Africa. This is a multi-year project with a scope that will cover all of Africa, and it will serve an international community. A digital collection will make materials and oral histories available to Friends and scholars around the world. Some of the stories of faith and witness among East African Friends will be shared in translation with Friends around the world as religious education resources.
The Africa Quaker Archive Working Circle invited Mary Crauderueff, Curator of Quaker Collections at Haverford College, as the first Visiting Quaker Archivist to guide cataloging of materials, train others to continue this work, and consult on future directions for the project. At the Archive’s convocation event, Crauderueff expressed her excitement about the project, saying, “This archive will not only help preserve Quaker history in Africa but will equip FTC as the centre of reference in Africa.” She is looking forward to archiving available records such as minutes, diaries, sermons, newsletters, membership lists, and so forth.
We are grateful to the Thomas H. and Mary Williams Shoemaker Fund and the Friends Historical Association for seed funding to begin this work and to Haverford College for supporting Mary’s participation. The Africa Quaker Archive is pleased to accept donations of documents, photographs, letters or personal journals related to Friends in Africa. These can be brought to, or sent with representatives to, the FUM/USFW-I/Quaker Men International Triennial meeting in Kisumu, Kenya in July 2020. We will update Friends as the work unfolds.
Peace to you Friends,
Dr. Robert J. Wafula
Tel. +254 734 728564