tv Arch Street Meeting House CSPAN June 17, 2017 10:00am-10:33am EDT
world. she is such an incredible role model for women, even today. she was a woman who was way ahead of her time. veryas a woman who was important in the 20th century, but her ideas in the 21st century still ring loud today. this weekend, we are featuring the history of hyde park, new york. learn more about hyde park and other stops on our cities tour on c-span.org. you are watching american history tv, all weekend, every weekend, on the span three. -- c-span3. >> the state of pennsylvania was founded by quaker william penn in 1682 as a sanctuary for religious freedom. many quakers have lived and worshiped in philadelphia ever since. next, american history tv's visits arttifacts
street meetinghouse, constructed in 1804 to learn the story of philadelphia's society of friends, and to learn about the history and practices of quakers. >> welcome to arch street meetinghouse. i'm the director here. today, i will talk a little lid about the building we are standing in, arch street meetinghouse, a quaker place of worship, and also a bit about quakers. a lot of our visitors do not know much about the religion before they get here, which is an interesting issue. when you go to -- caps on the , oneof the catholic church of those historic cathedrals, people usually have background knowledge. we answer a lot of questions about whether quakers are honest people, puritans -- amish people, puritans, a thick education. this is a good place to have that basic education about quakers.
the arch street meeting house is the largest quaker meeting house in the united states and maybe the world, but we are looking into it. it was built in 1804, and the land that the property is built ceeded in 1701 by william penn. at the beginning of our chores that we normally do with visitors and school groups, we have them look around this space, and we do a lot of comparing this right to other religious sites that people are used to visiting, because this --sort of out why the norm outside the norm. we have people look around and let us know what is different here versus other historic religious sites that they have been to, and a lot of times they notice there are no stained goldenindows or large candles, or even a place for a priest or deacon to stand and give a sermon or something like that. that is because quakers were shipped -- were shipped --
worshipped in a way that was different than most folks. in a typical sunday, it was still an active congregation meeting for worship. what happened now and 200 years ago, it is pretty similar here in philadelphia. people gathered and sit in silence for one hour. in thisould gather space, like quakers throughout history like susan b anthony, william penn, lucretia mott they would meet in building's similar to this and sit in silence for if anybody in the group, one hour. congregation felt the desire to stand up and share a message, if they felt moved to speak, they could rise in the silence and share what they had to share. question we get often -- a question we get often is what would quakers have to say during worship? we like to throw it back to history. it is easier to say it like
this. susan b anthony, when she had a message, it's probably related to women's rights and suffrage, because that she was fighting for the most, that was on her mind. lucretia mott she spoke out a , lot. we have records of some of the sermons and talks she was giving during worship. they relate to abolition, urging other quakers to feel the same way she did about freeing slaves. today, it varies. , adults i said earlier and children are treated with quality as well. i have been to a few meetings where children will stand up and give messages, and it can be really moving to hear what they have to say and what their experience is. in 1814, we know there were 600 and all members of the meeting that worshiped here -- adult members of the meeting that worshiped here, and we can tell me by the law of averages they would've had children. so this room would have been filled with 600 or so it all
sitting down here, and they probably had two kids each. you could extrapolate that. the entire upstairs would have been filled with 1200 people here, and it would have been told to the rafters with quakers. nowadays when we have worship, --re are about the-70 people 60-70 people. back when the children did y were seated upstairs and the boys would have been on that side of the room, on those benches, and the girls would have been on the opposite side. they were separated by a big piece of wood. any longer, there but it would have been in the center and separated them. there were also adults up there making sure they were behaving appropriately in this space. and another thing that was really interesting, quakers say they are the original recyclers.
if something broke, they would fix it. we have a lot of original components of this building, including on the staircase that the girls would have walked up. it is called a modesty panel. it is an extra piece of wood that would have shielded the view of their angles as they walked up the steps to go to their area for worship. really like toi tell visitors but they do not get to see a lot, because they are not invited upstairs at this point, there is graffiti on the benches. it is not spray paint, obviously, it is carved into the wood. it is predominantly on this side of the room, where the little boys would have been worshiping, and it dates back -- i think the earliest when i have seen is , and it appears to be in times new roman font, sometimes change but not .verything changes another thing a lot of people ask us about his benches in general. you can see this room is filled
with benches, and they do not all look the same. some of them have the wide slats at the back, others are a lot more narrow, basically just this part on this part, and we have done a lot of work looking at the benches and the construction , and what we have learned is that most of them were built with just the top slot, and the bottom panel was and for comfort later. -- added for comfort later. had to sell off other quaker meeting houses in create such ad to large building that they did, so they took the benches from the other quaker meeting houses and brought them here. even the benches you are seeing in the back right here predate the construction of the building. the earliest one we have is thought to have been from 1685, and that is in the space where quakers currently worship, and they can sit on it if they feel the desire.
as you can also see on these benches, there are these cushions. these are the original cushions that were here in 1804, however they have been recovered. this pattern is not the original material on the outside. would put something new over it, so we have the last version of the covering and pieces of the one before that. but what is interesting and exciting here is that the original horse carries inside of these. when you touch them, we ask the children and guests as what is in there, because it feels like hey and held like hey when you feels-like hay when you squish it, but it is usually an adult that says horse hair. another thing we like to point out when talking about the architecture of this space is as i mentioned before, during
quaker worship is usually silent, so anybody in this entire space can stand to give a message. hearinge obvious that was an issue. if you are in a large meeting house like this one, a lot of other meeting houses are much smaller and it is probably not much of a deal, but here it is so big that they want everybody to hear everyone's message. so the person back there wanted to be able to hear what that person was saying, so they needed to figure out how to do that. this was before microphones were thing. so we have these letters between a member of the meeting, which is called the monthly meeting of friends of philadelphia, and ventolin latrobe, an architect lots of people know of. they were discussing this issue -- how do we solve this, how to we improve the acoustics of the space? he came up with what is at the front of this room. dissertations that scholars have written about this
particular feature, because some it as other spaces have well, and it is called a sounding board or panel. that is supposed to -- the curved nature of the piece is supposed to make it so that the voices -- it shoots the voices out throughout the entire building, and it makes it easier to hear. i have heard other people describe this that it is gathering voices as well as in what works and two ways, but we are not entirely sure. we need to do more research on this particular piece. so this room we know as the rest was used as room the joint room were men and women have worship. there are other rooms identically as large that used to be identified with -- outfitted with benches, but they were taken out in the 1930's when men and women started meeting together for all of the
functions in this building and they no longer needed two separate spaces. so that is now used as a multipurpose space and we have some exhibits, which are currently under construction. i would love to take you over to see those now. we are headed into the east room, and this space, as i mentioned earlier, is nearly identical to the room that we -- westt in, the rest room. and you can see the benches throughout the rest of the space have been removed, and it is now a multipurpose space. the space is currently set up for an event we had this past .eekend with the mayor's office on this table here are some headstones that were once outside in our burial ground. as you will see later, the property here is about two acres, and what is interesting is that there are not visible headstones on the property. a lot of times people will walk through here thinking it is a beautiful park without realizing
that there are nearly 20,000 bodies buried underneath their feet. the way that it works -- quaker burial grounds here before the 1850's, they did not use headstones. it was seen as against the rules, in a sense. vain, ando seen as there is a quaker ruling spat out that said gravestones were supercilious, which is a great word. some people still wanted headstones, and you might be a headstone or two at some quaker cemeteries, but hear what they ended up doing was taking the existing headstones and laying them down and covering them over. they did not want to get rid of them or throw them away or anything, so they are still out there on the property. we have come across a few of them doing routine maintenance out wide, and we have brought them in for safer keeping. here are a few of them, and one thing that i find to be incredibly interesting is that
we have all been to the cemeteries where you can barely make out the persons name, they have been so worn down that you struggle to see what is written there, but these look like they were cut yesterday. that is because this ruling that was passed about the headstones, that happened in about the mid-1700s. so for instance, this woman's headstone was not up for very long before it was covered over or put inside of the building. another interesting artifact that we have on-site is this aoden sled here, and it is funerary sled. it would have been used on the property to bring the bodies to their final resting place. we have had some experts look at it, and they said it looks like construction from the late 1700s, early 1800s. so what we are standing in front
of now was created for the american bicentennial in 1976. there were a lot of people coming to philadelphia, and the quakers wanted to invite him into the meeting house to tell the more about the founding of the city and other things about quaker history. so these here tell the story of william penn, and right now they look like this because they are being re-faced and are not finished, but it is an interesting story to tell. this first directly here starts with william penn, and when he really starts to think about quakers. it, he hasned about gone to meetings for worship, he has some friends that are quakers, and know it is in conflict with his father, who is at the end the table and an admiral in the navy. so by hime pacifists, becoming a quaker, he was going against his family and his own father.
it was a very difficult choice for him to make. and here, william penn is explaining to his father that he has found this new religion, and that he -- he can no longer carry the sword. the next diary, is bit image of penn in jail, and people are shocked when they hear that early quakers, and even modern quakers and of being jailed for their beliefs -- end theirng jailed for beliefs. here she is in prison, and you can see other folks, like women, and one of the stories that we hope to tell what this diorama, beyond william penn being imprisoned, is that other women were imprisoned as well. this woman was arrested for picketing outside of the white house because she was wanting the right to vote. jail andauled to dale an .id a hunger strike
so eastern state penitentiary in pennsylvania, that was founded with help from quakers who had these experiences firsthand. this around the is of william penn making a treaty with native dioramas -- this next is of william penn making a treaty with native americans. back to the quaker idea of equality, william penn and other quakers viewed native americans as equals, while other europeans in the united states may not have taken the same approach. is to tella here that story of fair dealing with native americans, and how that was different in pennsylvania versus other places. this taira motels of the founding of philadelphia, and william penn had a really big hand in designing the city. when we walk around philadelphia, not only are a lot of the streets named after prominent quakers, but the way wasiam penn named it out
that they were named after trees, because quakers would prefer to not name streets after themselves because that is not vain, but close to it. in philadelphia there is walnut, chestnut, and the main roads are named after trees instead of people. instead, you are now walking around other streets named after quakers, like callow hill street, named after his first wife, pemberton street, and once you start getting involved in quaker history, you can point them out on the map. these exhibits start over here with this quilt. this quilt was created by a group of women -- it is called the houses industry. they were active in philadelphia after they sort of took up arms, quaker arms, after the yellow fever epidemic. they noticed there were a lot of women who were left widowed or
had children to take care of and they needed to find a way to help those women by providing clothing and services, but also to give women the opportunity to work for wages. so the houses industry was active in that, and the quilt we have is an and will quaker activism, in a sense, even here is ant -- have emblem of quaker activism, in a sense, even though it is just a quilt. each individual square is signed by a woman who was working with the house of industries -- houses industry. arehe next case, we highlighting the work of a quaker artist, and his name is edward hicks. some people might be the lawyer with the peaceable kingdom artwork. one of the things people know about quakers is that they were simple and plain, and you can
see that in the architecture we saw a earlier. --ard hicks, when we he learned that his passion was painting and art, it was in direct conflict with his religion. at one point, he was a quaker minister. people saw he was doing this work, which was deemed to be adornment, it wasn't just useful, which is what quakers were in the habit of having. people sort of suggested that he become a farmer instead, and these were people who were, you know, his mentors and elders in his worship community. who knew he still wanted to be a painter -- he knew he still wanted to be a painter, tried farming, and failed. it is interesting. here are some examples. he was painting signs, and you can see that he was self trained. they are not extra flamboyant or anything like that, they are
simple and plain in their own way. but the reason we tell the story is not only because he is a these, but we have children's blocks hand-painted by edward hicks. this is probably the beginning of the 1830's that these were made, and i have heard there is only one other set that exists, so this is really great and rare that we have those. this image here is a outside of the meeting house, on the bricks that paves the way that pave -- pave the way out there. this is the door right next to us tear. -- here. you'll see there is a group of men standing at the meeting house, and what i like to point out is the difference in their hats, so this must've been a pivotal moment in fashion history, where some men were wearing rounded hats, bowler hats, and they also had these flat top hats. it is interesting to see the
dynamic and think about why he chose the round, why he chose the flat, and with some more research i am sure fashion historians know, but we know because of the hat styles this 1910sobably the early when this image was taken. in this case your, we have some silhouettes. a lot of people are familiar with the art of silhouettes, and most children can go to some sort of historic site where you can get your silhouette made. uakers embraced this art form versus portraiture. portraiture would have been seen as fancier, you have to sit for a long amount of time, which shows that you have free time, which shows how rich you might be. it was an emblem of wealth, and quakers really had a commitment to sympathy and plainness, and doing things that were useful.
so silhouettes were a more simple way of having a likeness yourselfelf-created -- created. these are just a few examples that we chose to display to tell that story. this one here is lucretia mott, who many people know. -- she was anan ardent abolitionist. some of the others are interesting, because they chose to depict themselves holding plants or knitting, and this young girl in the center, it is probably hard to make out here tch.she has a crotch -- crut that little piece hanging ch,eath her foot is a crut and once you start to look deeper you see all these details about who these people really were. this next piece here is about the construction of the meeting house. what i did not mention was that builteeting house was
by a quaker named owen diddle junior. his family was very active in quaker history, and in 1804, he went to architecture school. here we have are some of these will see left inside of the building. they have his initials on them. says oh diddleer . diddle, and the other one says ob. top rectangular box. they were doing some restoration in the 1960's and they fell out onto the restoration workers. we have heard since then early builders would leave tools as their calling card, saying i was here, this was my work, and we have them on display. to not put them
back up into the woodwork. we also have some of the original nails and hinges. this is just a reproduction of the building, of course, and these look a lot different than the blueprints you see nowadays. but you can see how he laid it out and all the different spaces grass he built into the design of the space. here are some comically large keys that go to different places. this is the front door key, originally. another thing that owen biddle is famous for was writing a book, the young carpenter's assistant. not only did he care about doing the construction himself, but there was a lack of real educational tools for other people to learn how to do this beyond just, jud apprenticeship. he wrote one of the first guide and reference books to teach people how to do construction work.
this right here is an example taken directly from his book. the pillar looks exactly like the pillars we have here. often when people enter this property, there is a brick wall surrounding it. once they come in through that brick wall, they are surprised at how large this building really is. it is hard to capture with general photography because it is so long, it barely fits even into the frame. if you notice from the facade, it is really plain out here as well. fancy, it does not have as many stories as a lot of the other churches in philadelphia at this time. you are also noticing that there is no steeple, something you probably see on other churches in the area and beyond. the worship community that meets was known as a monthly meeting, and there are monthly meetings all over this
area of philadelphia, all over the country, and the world. these are basically the congregations. one thing here, the congregations from this area get together, and they have been doing this since religious societies were founded. a meeting for everybody together in one place. this is called annual session. his buildings built large enough to hold all of those people at once in one place -- this building is built large enough to hold all of those people at once in one place. one of the legends that exists here is the story about this brick wall. it was originally built back when it was a burial ground. the wall was originally about four or five feet high, and you can see the difference in the color of the bricks here. when the yellow fever epidemic swept through philadelphia in 1983 -- 1783, around those years, the story is that 10% of
the population of philadelphia died at that time. the city was overwhelmed by the bodies. at night, some folks would throw them over the wall onto the arch street burial ground property. the quakers would take care of them. we have also heard there are mass graves in the property where the yellow fever victims would have been buried. shortly after the yellow fever epidemic ended, quakers raised the wall to eight or nine feet, and i have heard a number of different reasons for why that might have been raised, but you have got to assume it might have some thing to do with their experience during the ella fever epidemic. sometimes you may hear that quakers are referred to as , andds, with a capital f that is because their formal name is the religious society of friends, and that was formed in england in the 16 50's by a number of people, but , that wasy george fox
his name. these leaders in england -- they did not agree with the english werch and all of the stuff talked about today, simplicity and plainness, the church was in complete opposition of that. things were fancy, it was not about worship, and the quakers wanted to pair that down -- pare that down and only do things that were useful, connecting them better to god, and remove all the artifacts and the middleman. they thought they could communicate directly with god, and they saw everything else is being superfluous. -- as being superfluous. a lot of the early quaker leaders were jailed for their beliefs because they were on street corners preaching, and they could be thrown in prison for speaking out the way that they were about the quaker beliefs. the persecution that they faced in england was one of the main
reasons they started to come to america, and they originally lived in new jersey, the pennsylvania area, and it is one of the reasons why william penn was so motivated to come and start the colony of pennsylvania , to get away from the persecution that was going on in europe at the time. arch street meetinghouse is important because it is an emblem of social activism. for beinge well known people who lead and inspired others to get involved in social justice work -- i mentioned suffrage, appalachian -- ,ppalachian -- abolition environmental movements, prison reform, mental health services, and quakers have always been active in this type of work. arch street meetinghouse is a place to learn about that history. it happened on the benches there , and it is a really great
about. to learn it is more than just the history of the quakers, it is all about. -- all of our history. >> today at 8:00 a.m. eastern on railamerica -- ,> general secretary gorbachev if you seek peace, did you seek prosperity for the soviet union and eastern europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to the skate. -- this gate. mr. gorbachev, open this gate. [applause] gorbachev, tear down this wall. [applause] >> president ronald reagan's 1987 trip to berlin, and then at 8:00 p.m. on lectures in history, palma radel on how the baby boom, suburbanization, and
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secretary. he is at camp david as well. the president now feels very strongly that john and i should volunteer to resign. schedule, gomplete to c-span.org. american history tv is that top cottage, a small, private-based design by president england roosevelt -- franklin roosevelt as a place to get away. he hosted foreign leaders and dignitaries on the sport behind me, and they discussed major topics of the day. >> i think fdr used this place as a place to bring these world leaders out and have them let their guard down, have them really focus on some of the major issues that they were here t