Preparative Meetings represented the lowest rung of the Quaker organizational structure. They were originally formed in the late 1690s as a means of reducing the amount of business at MMs; they were designed to "prepare" business for the MMs. Throughout history, PMs held a less formal business meeting than the MMs, QMs, or YM. PMs usually met one week prior to its MM. They were usually comprised of one or more meetings for worship.
An important function of PMs in the 1700s was the discussion of the behavior of members. When a member behaved in a way that was considered inappropriate, the PM would send the overseers to visit the person. If the overseers were unable to reach a satisfactory conclusion, they would take the matter to the MM for further discussion. PMs usually appointed representatives to MMs.
In the early 20th century, Friends found it helpful to simplify the organizational structure by eliminating PMs. Each MM was allowed to proceed as it saw fit; when the PM was laid down, its MWs became subordinate to the MM instead. The last historic PM was Richland, which was laid down in 1973. Ohio YM has had no PMs in the past decade.