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Timothy Nicholson Papers

Identifier: FMS-12

Scope and Contents

The Timothy Nicholson Papers document aspects of the career of one of the most influential Indiana Friends of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Consisting of correspondence, essays, printed materials, and a sound recording, the collection, although relatively small, is a rich resource for American Quaker history, especially for the period 1880-1900. Nicholson's correspondents between 1880 and 1900 included some of the most prominent Quakers in America, and his papers are a rich resource for the tensions that holiness revivalism caused among Orthodox Friends. Of special interest are letters from his brother William Nicholson (1827-1898), the long-time clerk of Kansas Yearly Meeting of Friends, and Joel Bean (1825-1914), one of the best-known opponents of the revival.


  • 1860-1922

Conditions Governing Access

The collections has no restrictions on access.

Conditions Governing Use

Some materials may be protected by copyright. Permission to reproduce and to publish for commercial purposes must be requested from the Archivist.

Biographical or Historical Information

Timothy Nicholson was born in Perquimans County, North Carolina, Nov. 2, 1828, the son of Josiah and Anna (White) Nicholson, prominent Friends. Educated in local Quaker schools and in the Friends School (now Moses Brown School) in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1849 he returned to North Carolina to head Belvidere Academy. In 1855 he joined the faculty of Haverford College, first as a teacher and then as superintendent. In 1861, Nicholson moved to Richmond, Indiana, where he resided until his death, operating a book and stationary store. He became one of the leading members of Indiana Yearly Meeting of orthodox Friends, serving for many years as clerk of the yearly meeting of Ministers and Elders and as clerk of the yearly meeting from 1904 to 1911. From 1865 to 1914 he was a member of the Earlham College Board of Trustees. For most of that time he was considered the board's most active and influential member. When the American Gurneyite yearly meetings of Friends were swept by holiness revivalism in the 1870s, Nicholson was a leading proponent of a more moderate and traditional Quaker vision, and was central to Indiana Yearly Meeting resisting the revival movement's most radical tendencies. He also became nationally known for humanitarian work in prison reform and temperance. Nicholson was twice married: first in 1853 to Sarah N. White (1827-1863) and in 1868 to Mary S. White (1839-1911). He died in Richmond, Sept. 15, 1924.

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1 Boxes

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Source of Acquisition


Method of Acquisition

The provenance of the Nicholson Papers is unknown. They were probably given to Earlham after Walter. C. Woodward used them for his biography, Timothy Nicholson: Master Quaker, published in 1927.

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Repository Details

Part of the Friends Collection and Earlham College Archives Repository