All posts by Elizabeth


This course has felt like, since the beginning, a very different course from anything I have ever taken. I have felt more connected to everyone involved in this course, and closer to everyone involved in this course since the very first day of class, and I think the fact that we have been encouraged to blog and interact with each other throughout it has been a significant part of that.

The research that I have done in this class, both on my own and with the help of Madeleine, has been truly fun. I have enjoyed looking at the idea of secession as not just an action but also as a concept, and this has provided me with the ability to think about how that relates to many of the other projects I am going to take on in the future.I have felt challenged throughout this entire course as well, not like I am not only working to get the project done, but also in the sense that my ability to conduct research is being tested. I love that every time we have a discussion in class, we are pushed to question each other and to question ourselves, in a way that we are working together in order to grow our understanding of the concepts we are looking at.

This course is one that I feel I will take the tools from to use through my graduate career beginning in the fall and into my professional life. I am very grateful to have been able to be a part of this course, and to have gotten to know everyone else involved.

Thinking of Alternative Conclusions

While doing a lot of my research this weekend one of the biggest questions on my mind was about coming up with an alternative conclusion for what the Quaker situation is if it isn’t a secession movement from Puritan New England. I think that coming up with something to counter the argument we’ve been building with our research all semester is something that I was not expecting to try to do, and required me to not only come up with all the different examples to support the point we’re trying to make, but to try and think of something opposite of that. It had never really crossed our minds throughout this project that the Quakers were anything but a secession movement, but once I found something in the reading I was doing earlier today, I think that I finally made a breakthrough in the potential alternative conclusion for our website.


While the past two weeks have been incredibly busy with both Madeleine and I, we have both been working on research into sources to use for our project. I recently forward the email of the contact I have spoken to at UMass Amherst to Madeleine for her to set up her trip and have some sources set aside when she gets there. As well as thing my internship at the local public library has given me some possible connections to the history of the Society of Friends in North Adams, but I have yet to look further to find out exactly whether or not that will assist with our project. Though there also seems to be a rich wealth of information through our schools library with regional history of Quakers, as well as a collection of writings by William Penn that look like they will be helpful in our research.

Final Quaker Contract


Our project aims to examine the many conceptions and definitions of secession through the lens of the 17th-century Quaker community. The project will cover about 1650 to 1690 which is a period that includes the events leading up to and immediately after the falling out between the Quakers and Puritans. This will examine this period as a case study in what defines a secessionist movement, and will evaluate what is needed to have a secession based on the different aspects that are specific to the Quaker and Puritan conflict.

We hope to create a user-friendly, engaging site that allows high school teachers and students to easily understand the Quaker story and also interact with the information in a meaningful way. To accomplish this goal we want to make the physical journey of the Quakers the visual centerpiece of our project. We intend to use a geographical timeline as a main feature of our website with the addition of other visual tools to express the material.

Possible Tools:




-Possibly videos, photos, etc.


February 20th—Final contract due  

March 27th—Website Rough Draft due

Beginning of April- Visit to Archive

April 24—Final Project due



-responsible for at least 5-7 sources

-synthesizing narrative to develop Map/Timeline

-establishing contact with local Quaker group/other distant archives and groups


-responsible for at least 5-7 sources

-establishing contact with local archives

-finding accurate images and other supplementary material for website

We will meet every Thursday to discuss project status and work that has been/needs to be done.

Spring Break Update

Unfortunately, my time over Spring Break ended up far less fruitful that I had originally anticipated. The contact that I was able to make with an archive in Boston was out of town while I was in the surrounding area, and I did not have the time that I expected to be able to go into the city itself (I was staying a roughly 45 minute train ride south of the capital) to be able to conduct research of my own. Despite this, I am working on solidifying plans to make a trip within the next 3 weeks to go to the archives at UMass Amherst and conduct research there.

Working Bibliography of Secondary Sources

Baltzell, E. Digby. Puritan Boston and Quaker Philadelphia. New York: Free Press, 1980.

Gevitz, Norman. “”Pray Let the Medicines Be Good”: The New England Apothecary in the Seventeenth and Early Eighteenth Centuries.” Pharmacy in History 41, no. 3 (1999): 87-101.

Jordan, David W. “”Gods Candle” within Government: Quakers and Politics in Early Maryland.” The William and Mary Quarterly 39, no. 4 (1982): 628-54. doi:10.2307/1919006.

Pestana, Carla Gardina. “The City upon a Hill under Siege: The Puritan Perception of the Quaker Threat to Massachusetts Bay, 1656-1661.” The New England Quarterly 56, no. 3 (1983): 323-53. doi:10.2307/365396.

Rogers, Horatio. Mary Dyer of Rhode Island. Providence: Preston and Rounds, 1896. Accessed March 6, 2017.

Ryan, James Emmett. Imaginary Friends : Representing Quakers in American Culture, 1650-1950. Madison, US: University of Wisconsin Press, 2009. Accessed March 5, 2017. ProQuest ebrary.

Weddle, Meredith Baldwin. Walking in the Way of Peace : Quaker Pacifism in the Seventeenth Century. New York, US: Oxford University Press, 2000. Accessed March 5, 2017. ProQuest ebrary.

Klaw’s “Without Sin”

In Klaw’s analysis of the communist utopian society at Oneida, New York beginning in 1848 looks at what we, at this point, would consider to be the typical religious cult, based in free love, communal lifestyles, and a personality cult around the leader, John Humphrey Noyes. One of the biggest aspects of the community was an equality both sexually and in roles between all the members, and an abolishment of marriage to have a sense of ownership of one person be thrown away, instead holding onto the idea of each member of the community belonging to one another.

This kind of community is something that we are very familiar with, the most notable being that of Jonestown in the 1970’s. This basis is something that can be tied back through many different communities, and we can look at as one of the repetitive parts of history that every century, or few decades, will rear its head to show us this hope for a more equal setting between individuals and a base in the communal behavior of human beings.

Unfortunately, as seen in both the Jonestown massacre, and in the situation with Noyes’ community in Oneida, there is a much darker undercurrent than the premise of the community would lead us to believe. The unfortunate factor in all of these events is the characteristics required of a leader to be able to found it in the first place. There is a narcissism in the actions and there is a paranoia in both the cases of Jim Jones and John Noyes. At one point there is a situation where Noyes flees to Canada in order to escape the persecution that he felt coming toward him due to his sexual liberation of women in the community by engaging in sexual acts with girls just as they reached puberty, as there introduction to the sexual freedom of the rest of the community.

During the time in which Noyes fled, there was a type of dissent within the community, in which people split off, getting married to one another, despite that this was outside the ordinary type of relationship expressed in this community. This complication led to troubles, even after Noyes came back from hiding. This kind of difficulty with the relationship structure is what began to bring up more real issues within the community as a whole.

Sorens’ Secession

In Jason Sorens’ piece on secession, there is an important distinction between the ideas of secession and secessionism. To define these not only as separate points, but also to articulate them as within their own categories, the difference between action and theory, provides a set up for the discussion that he proceeds to give. Even before this distinction is clearly giving, we can see when Sorens addresses the rarity of successful secession movements, yet when we think of history of particularly European Empires in the 20th century, we can look at the decolonization of African and Asian states as potential secession movements, yet Sorens only lists a number of these as examples.

We can see more of a reference to the struggles with African, as well as Eastern European, states with his discussion of the power of ethnicity within the struggle for an autonomous state. On page 21 he states, “Experiments have shown that when individuals are classified into groups, even on the basis of arbitrary criteria such as tastes for abstract art, their behavior changes. They cooperate more with members of their own group, and less with members of other groups than they do when no group identities are assigned.” When we look at this kind of claim in the context of what we are normally exposed to when discussing secession and the idea of separate states, we are forced to look with new ideas at the idea of categorization of these states in the first place.

This type of idea is something that I personally find fascinating. The matter of looking at not only why groups want an autonomous power, but why they were formed into the initial group, and for what reasons and amount of times were these groupings able to take place is fascinating. The categorization of both others and ourselves is something that can be looked at critically in the context of secession; specifically what this means in terms of our modern American identity and why we always need a prefix in our self identification as Americans.


Hi all! I am Elizabeth Kurz Michel (but feel free to call me Liz), I am originally from Rochester, NY, and I am a senior in my last semester at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, majoring in History and minoring in English. I am currently in the process of applying for graduate schools in Library Science and Archival Studies, and as soon as I heard of this course I knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to try to hone in skills that I will be using throughout my graduate career. I look forward to interacting with everyone involved in this, and seeing the way our different styles of learning and thought processes based on our different institutions and locations will allow us to interact with each other and the course material in different ways!