Life as a Quaker Family: The Brookes



Life as a Quaker Family: The Brookes


The Brooke Family were landowners and members of the Quaker community in Sandy Spring, Maryland. Their family was made up of Robert (father), Mary (mother), and their ten children. When they first arrived in colonial Maryland in 1650, Lord Baltimore had granted Robert Brooke 2,000 acres of land. During this time Mr. Brooke also acted as the governor of Maryland and as the President of Council in Maryland.

Quakerism is a branch of Christianity that emerged in post-Reformation England in the 1650s. Early adherents suffered imprisonment and persecution for their religious beliefs and were among the first white settlers to seek freedom in North America. They settled in many eastern states, including Maryland, and Pennsylvania, which is named for the Quaker William Penn. Pacifism, simplicity, and equality are core Quaker values that have remained largely unchanged since the religious society formed. Quakers believe that there is a part of God or a guiding inner light in everybody and try to treat people equally, as well as oppose discrimination and oppression of all kinds. Quakers try to integrate their religious ideals into their daily activities as well as affirm that their actions follow a set of moral rules. Stemming from their position against violence, Quakers were among the first abolitionists, and many, though not all, freed their slaves almost 200 years before the American Civil War. Freeing the slaves was a very slow process. In Brookeville — a small town in Maryland founded by the Brooke family and where the Brookes and their neighbors resided for many generations — almost every family including the Brookes owned slaves even after the 1768 Baltimore Yearly Meeting decree that asked slave owners to free their slaves. It was not until at least a decade later where Brookeville began to enforce this decree. Members of the community who refused to comply lost their status and were unable to participate in the yearly meetings anymore.

The Brooke family papers that we offer for transcription here are mostly dated to the American Civil War and Reconstruction period through to the early nineteenth century and focus on the Brooke's farm work on the plantation called Falling Green.

We invite you to take part in the transcription of the Brooke Family papers, a unique collection of documents that contains valuable information about the Brooke family. The Brooke Family papers consist of a collection of diaries, which were created by several women in the Brooke Family. They address topics of religion, motherhood, housework, education, social gatherings, farm life, and more. Other materials in the Brooke family archive that are not included in this first set of documents on FromThePage include scrapbooks, photographs, memorabilia, business records, travel journals, sketches, poetry, printed ephemera, and oral history transcripts. What you will be transcribing are daybooks. We hope that by helping to transcribe these daybooks, you gain insight into the rich culture and life of the Brooke Family, and more broadly, what it means to be a Quaker in the 1800-1900s.

For more information about daybooks or transcription in general visit here: Help Text and Frequently Asked Questions

Transcribing allows us to better understand the Brooke Family’s lifestyles and gives us a deeper insight on Quaker life during the 1900s. We can become familiar with their writing styles, writing materials, ways of life, daily routines, and much more. Transcribing the Brooke Family writings also allows us to compare our modern lives with their lives and relive the major events throughout U.S history. Being involved in these projects is important because you will get an insight into how these people used to live and how they were able to garner such a positive reputation from everyone within the Montgomery County community. In addition, transcribing is an effective way to make primary documents more accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired. Transcriptions of manuscript images enable folks who use screen reader technology to hear the contents of documents read aloud.

This project is a partnership between Special Collections & University Archives at the University of Maryland, Assistant Professor Victoria Van Hyning (College of Information Studies), and fifteen second-semester freshmen at UMD's Design Cultures and Creativity honors college. SCUA holds many rare and unique materials, and is home of the National Trust for the Historic Preservation Library Collection. By registering as a reader at SCUA you can read the Brooke Family daybooks and other archival materials in person in the Hornbake Library at the University of Maryland College Park. Members of SCUA are happy to answer any questions you may have (see contact details in the footer of our website!).

The Team
  • Professor Victoria Van Hyning:
    Dr. Victoria Van Hyning, Assistant Professor of Library Innovation, College of Information Studies, UMD.
  • Joni Floyd:
    Curator, Maryland & Historical Collections (Librarian II) Special Collections and University Archives Collection Strategies and Services
  • Jacob Hopkins:
    Spring 2022 graduate of UMD’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program and Graduate Assistant for Reference, Outreach, and Engagement for Maryland and Historical Collections at Special Collections and University Archives
  • Hawa Barrie:
    Class of 2025, Psychology major, Help Text Group
  • Elie Choi:
    Class of 2025, Information Systems major, Project Image Group, HTML
  • Andrei Davydov:
    Class of 2025, Studio Art major, File Upload/Metadata Group
  • Hanan Debencho:
    Class of 2025, Undecided, Help Text Group
  • Cai Diggs:
    Class of 2025, Environmental Science and Technology major, Project Description Group
  • Aniyah Gardner:
    Class of 2025, Undecided/Architecture major, Project Image Group
  • Olivia Gargano:
    Class of 2025, Architecture major, Project Description Group
  • Sydney Johnson:
    Class of 2025, Management & Finance major, Project Image Group
  • Young-A Kim:
    Class of 2025, Finance & Marketing major, Help Text Description Group
  • Jade LeSchack:
    Class of 2025, Physics major, File Upload/Metadata Group
  • Victoria Liu:
    Class of 2025, Immersive Media Design and Wildlife Ecology and
    Management major, Project Description Group
  • Nicole Mensah:
    Class of 2025, Psychology major, File Upload/Metadata Group
  • Chelsea Ralph:
    Class of 2025, Nursing major, Help Text Group
  • Hannahlise Wang:
    Class of 2025, Psychology major and Violin Performance minor, Project Image Group
  • Lillian Zhou:
    Class of 2025, Biology & Environmental Sciences and Policy major,
    File upload/metadata

We provided a bibliography of sources that provide more background information on Quakers, the Brooke family, and autobiographies.

“Brooke Family Papers.” Collection: Brooke Family Papers, Archival Collections.

“The Third Place.”,

“‘This Iniquitous Practice’: Brookeville's Slave Problem.” Brookeville 1814: Slavery. Accessed May 5, 2022.

Angell, Stephen Ward, and Ben Pink Dandelion. "The Oxford Handbook of Quaker Studies." Oxford University Press, 2013. (available on Google Books).

Carroll, Kenneth L. “Maryland Quakers and Slavery.” Quaker History 72, no. 1 (1983): 27–42.

Hogan, Terri. “At Olney’s Falling Green, Students and Community Members Dig up the Past” Washington Post, 2012.

O'Hern, Megan. 2014. “ "Fewer Inducements to Vice": Brookeville's Quaker Identity.” Maryland State Archives.

Smyth, Adam. “Introduction,” Autobiography in Early Modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2010.

[Anna Farquhar Brooke], 1880

[Anna Farquhar Brooke], 1880

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