Some Interesting Quaker Roots Threads
Some Interesting Quaker Roots Threads
Portraits & Silouettes

Some Quaker Silouettes

From: David McJonathan <[email protected]
Date: Fri, 6 Mar 1998 12:14:30
Subject: RE: Re: Quakers and Portraits

It should be remembered that the expense of portraits prior to photography was part of the Quaker objection...the indulgence of spending a large sum for a vain or shallow reason. Quakers take issue with any "display" be it a grave maker, personal image or anything that comes close to the "me" generation of today putting self before anything.

"Plain" "Unabtrusive" was a sign of not drawing attention to oneself, of not placing too much importance on self, one's focus should be on the devine, the whole, the good of all. It was abhorant to be vain or selfish, motivated for self instead of the good for all.

From: HAYDENCOX [email protected]
Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 09:27:14 EST
Subject: Re: Quakers and Portraits

In a message dated 98-03-04 08:57:21 EST, you write:

<< I quite agree that Friends were averse to portraits. Most drew the line at silhouettes. There are silhouettes for numerous Friends such as Henry and Elizabeth (Sandwith) Drinker and Sally Wister. >>

So, the chances of me finding pictures of ancestors are pretty slim! Didn't know they didn't like pictures taken. Would explain why my ggg grandfather has no pictures of him, but a charcoal drawing was found!

In a message dated 98-03-06 12:19:58 EST, you write:

<< It should be remembered that the expense of portraits prior to photography was part of the Quaker objection...the indulgence of spending a large sum for a vain or shallow reason. Quakers take issue with any "display" be it a grave maker, personal image or anything that comes close to the "me" generation of today putting self before anything. >>

Okay, I think I'm understanding some of the "Quaker ways" now. The grave markers, images of themselves were considered "self-important" and a no-no.

This I assume also applies to the dress code. From what I'm reading of why my ggggrandfather was dis., was because he wore bright colors. So, the wearing of plain, black/brown clothes was a symbol of ?????? (will someone please fill in this blank)

Gambling was a no. Profanity was a no. Premarital sex was a no. Lying was a no.

Were the Quakers more rigid in their beliefs or did they just take them more seriously than other religions?

Still trying to understand it all

In a message dated 98-03-06 21:11:58 EST, you write:

<< There were obviously different types of Quakers, just as there is now in the Mennonite sect. Some were "plain", some were not so "plain" On a vist to Pennsbury Manor, you can observe some bed covers of the most brilliant red and gold pattern. >>

Oh no. Now you've brought up a new question in my head. (Bear with me people) The Amish/Mennonite. Are these branches of Quakers? Or closely related in beliefs?

Also, regarding the "different types of Quakers", I have some transcriptions of the Raisin, Lenawee County, MI MM. No where on here do I see Hicksite, Orthodox, or anything. Do I trace back to where these members came from to find out their branch of "Quakerism"?

As you can tell by my questions the last couple of days, I am not just interested in finding names and dates, I want to learn and understand the lives of my various ancestors.


From: Thomas Hamm [email protected]
Subject: Re: Quakers and Portraits

It's important to keep in mind that few Americans before 1850 could have afforded the cost of a painted portrait, even if they had no scruples against them as did Friends. And some Friends, as has been pointed out, did have portraits made.

By 1850, as photography was become inexpensive and popular, many Quaker peculiarities such as this were breaking down. Photographs of Friends after 1850 are common. I've seen only a very few extremely conservative Friends who condemned photography. One was Joshua Maule of Colerain, Ohio, who deplored Friends having photograph albums in their parlors.

Date: Wed, 4 Mar 1998 08:51:16 EST
Subject: Quakers and Portraits (was Funeral Portraits

I quite agree that Friends were averse to portraits. Most drew the line at silhouettes. There are silhouettes for numerous Friends such as Henry and Elizabeth (Sandwith) Drinker and Sally Wister.

However, there are exceptions, notably Margaret Hill Morris, a New Jersey Friend, whose portrait was painted when she was 16 years old (c. 1757).

Another portrait was painted of her at age 78. The latter may have been a portrait painted from the artist's memory after her death. This information comes from a book entitled _The Gardening Book of Margaret Hill Morris_ by Nancy Webster and Clarissa Dillon, published by the American Horticulturalist Society. The Book is a reprint of Margaret's gardening diary for, I believe, the year 1801 and contains information on what she was planting Dillon) as well as some genealogical background (Webster).

Karen Mullian
[email protected]

Date: Tue, 03 Mar 1998 19:14:11 -0800
From: Nora Hiatt <[email protected]
Subject: photographing the dead

I have a picture of my aunt who died when she was 12 days old. She looks just like she is sleeping. She is laying on a pillow.

I was told little Pearl was buried in the family plot back in Oswego KS when I went to visit for the first time back in 1982, I noticed there was no headstone. I cried all the way from SE Kansas to Tacoma WA over this. My mom mentioned to my uncle who worked in the cemetery how much it upset me for pearl not the be remembered. When I went back two years later my uncle had made a headstone for her. It is nothing fancy, just one of those steel funeral home markers in concrete, but no one will ever forget Pearl again.

I have added a headstone for my great grandpa who didn't have one, but I will never ever replace Pearls with a "better" one, because the one there told me how much my uncle cared for me. I would never had known about Pearl if my mom hadn't had a picture of her.


Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 13:01:08 -0600 (CST)
From: ABC Crafts [email protected]
Subject: Photographs of the Dead

My great aunt(by marriage) kept a framed photograph of her father in his coffin in the dining room. It hung opposite the dining room table - very off putting for a small child. My aunts tell me that the customs of photographing the dead is more of a European custom. My father's family is German and Czech and photagraphs of the deceased family members are very common after about 1880.

From: DBaker3381 [email protected]
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 15:06:09 EST
Subject: Re: Photographs of the Dead

In my family in South Georgia (Wiregrass Georgia), it is still a common practice for photographs to be taken of the deceased in the coffin. Pictures exist of my father and grandparents in the coffin. They are too unsettling for me to look at, but there are family members who have attended all the funerals of the family and gone about their merry way snapping photos. Then they keep an album of their collection of photos of all the deceased in their coffins and their graves. I have not seen this practice in any other area.

Have any others encountered this morbid custom anywhere?

Dot Baker

Date: Wed, 04 Mar 1998 05:03:18 -0800
From: Ruby Simonson McNeill [email protected]
Subject: Re: Photographs of the Dead

Interesting. I remember when our children were young we lived near another young family who had lost a young child and she showed me a picture of it. At the time I was mortified (wrong choice of words?).

Then in 1989 my son and daughter-in-law lost their first-born daughter shortly before birth. This was in Oregon. The hospital helped my daughter-in-law dress the baby in a beautiful pink knitted outfit (knitted by local women specifically for babies who die) and photographs were taken. It is hard to go back and look at the picture (I have a copy) but on the other hand it is the only thing I have to acknowledge that I actually DID have a grandchild. They even made up a certificate of birth (not a legal birth certificate as she was not a live birth) complete with foot print for the parents.


From: [email protected] (MRS IRA M DENNIS)
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 18:26:46, -0500
Subject: Photographs of the Dead and more...

This will sound amusing, it is now, it was not then. I remarried in 1990 after being alone for 11 years. It has been great. My husband's father died and we traveled to his home for the funeral. My mother had died just 6 months before that. My husband made the comment of how "lack of feeling" we seem to have?? I worshiped my Mother, as all daughters usually do, I had sat by her side in hospice for 6 weeks and hurt with her, so his comment was...well I just didn't understand.

NOW I do. When we arrived, 10 hours later, we went to his father's home. His father had been dead about 18 hours by then. He was laid on the large wooden kitchen table wrapped in lovely home made blankets and so on. I gasped, sat down and said nothing. My husband's Aunt was making a list of times to "body sit" I almost lost it then. She ask us to take the midnight sit as that is when something happens, I can not remember, it was so confusing to me. I told my husband that we needed to get the body moved to the funeral home. Of course, he was moved, but it was after so many hours after death. The house was packed with people. Suffering and weeping. We went to the funeral home and there were people everywhere,after the body was moved. When the midnight "shift" came, I will admit, I was uneasy, but there were people there and we did our duty. Throughout the next day, pictures were taken, videos were made with the body. At one point, one of the sons leaned over and grasped the body and kissed it as the pictures were snapped, as a hired professional photographer snapped pictures of whomever, and so on, and so on. I am an ole Farm/Ranch girl from Texas and I have seen birth and death all my life, this is all new to me....but that is not the end. The day of the funeral the siblings lined up behind the hearse in age from oldest to youngest. We followed in our place and the hearse drove down the street where he had lived in front of his home, people waved and clapped as we went by and then circled to the church. After the ceremony we followed in order of birth to the cemetery. After the words were spoken over the deceased, the boys, (he had no girls, 9 sons) stepped forward with no prompting ,encircled the casket, said the Lord's prayer in unison, kissed their father one by one, stepped back, the casket was closed and he was, at last buried! Throughout this, there were pictures being taken at all times with no apparent thought, in other words it was a natural way to bury folks. There was no abhorrence to touching the body or even kissing and so on. I was becoming a little more at ease. We changed our clothes, went to the oldest brother's home..... for Bar-b-que, singing, dancing, and merriment. Children running and playing and grown ups playing cards and so on. Once again I had to sit down. Tables under the big trees covered with food....well that went on for the whole week end. It may still be going on, I am not sure, we had to start back home, to OUR home after the second day. It was morbid at first, but now, I think very little of it. My Husband's grandmother had a large picture of her husband in his coffin on her dresser and there were other pictures of this type in the families homes. Now, you are thinking this was a bunch of hillbilly hicks.

Wrong! These, for the most part, are professional people. Attorneys, business men and so on, who had come back home to bury their father.

This is just the way they put people away. It is in the South, whatever that may signify, they are of Irish descent, whatever that may mean. But I understand how he felt at my Mother's very quiet, lovely and dignified funeral with each person acting according to the traditional, expected manner. But so was his family.

Sorry this was way tooooo long. But wanted to make the point, each family to their own traditions and feelings. My husband said..."we honored his life at the funeral, we celebrated his life at the party, and we remember his life with the pictures..."


From: DBaker3381 [email protected]
Date: Tue, 3 Mar 1998 20:29:43 EST
Subject: Re: Photographs of the Dead and more...

It was a lovely story, and I guess I understand the traditions in my own family a little better. I, personally, cannot feel comfortable looking at the photographs of the dead, but if it gives comfort, and if it feels right, I have no right to further say it is morbid.

Personally, I prefer to remember the departed in life. In our family, tradition had it that the body was brought to the home for the wake and up until the funeral. I grew up with that. The first death in my father's family where that custom was not practices was my own father. We lived in Florida and the homes were not adequate to support such an event. Many years later, when my grandmother passed away, her wake was the first that I knew of where they body was not brought home in GA. It seemed so strange to attend the wake at scheduled times, rather than having the body brought home while awaiting the funeral service.

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