Clerk

 

OFFICE DETAILS

Name

Clerk

The Friend who presides over business meetings, takes the minutes, and handles the correspondence of the meeting.
 
The office of Clerk was established with its current expectations in the late 1600s. At that time, the office required special skills, as literacy was not as universal (even among Friends) as it was in later generations. Originally, the office of Clerk had no special significance, as a "clerk" was simply a recorder. At this time, Clerks often only made minutes when the meeting had arrived at a decision and did not always minute discussions in which Friends did not reach unity. This gives a slightly imprecise understanding of what took place in a particular business meeting.
 
The office of Clerk was redefined slightly in the 19th century. By 1800, the office of Clerk had taken on some elements of status among Friends. Prominent public Friends were being chosen to serve as Clerk, which fostered an understanding that one role of the Clerk was to help guide the meeting to particular decisions. This new phase of clerking, represented by Samuel Bettle and William Evans in Philadelphia and Jane Plummer in Ohio, was widely opposed at the time. Job Otis of New York was prominent among Friends who believed that the Clerk should be limited to the servant of the meeting.
 
By the 20th century, Friends were less interested in appointing strong Clerks. The role of Clerk was adjusted when the men's and women's business meetings were merged. Often in these cases, the former men's Clerk would continue as the Clerk of the joint session business meeting, and the former women's clerk would serve as the assistant clerk.
 
In other branches of Friends, a new system was introduced in the 1950s. At the time, these other groups developed the notion that the position of Clerk was too difficult for a single person to handle (though it had been done remarkably well for almost three centuries at that time). These other groups partitioned the responsibilities of Clerks into what they call "presiding clerk" and "recording clerk."
 
In Ohio YM, the expectations of the Clerk were greatly increased in the 1990s. Susan Smith, Clerk of Ohio YM (1988-2001), completely redefined clerking. She initiated the process of writing minutes incorporating phrases that had been spoken by various Friends during the discussion (sometimes called "clippings" or "snippets") to capture the sense of the meeting. The resulting minutes conveyed an authority that had not been experienced prior to this time. Her contributions set a new and higher bar for Clerks that has carried into the 21st century.

 

OTHER OFFICE TYPES

Minister

Elder

Overseer

Assistant Clerk

Treasurer

Convenor

Trustee

Recorder

Librarian

Correspondent

Caretaker

 

SAMPLE APPOINTMENTS

Ohio YM Clerk 1949-

Ohio YM Men's Clerk 1813-1949

Ohio YM Women's Clerk 1813-1949

Westland Men's MM Clerk 1785-1865

Redstone QM Women's Clerk 1798-1869

Ohio M4S Clerk 1813-1958

Chesterfield MM Men's Clerk 1837-1915

Chesterfield MM Men's Assistant Clerk 1837-1915

Redstone QM Men's Clerk 1798-1869

Ohio YM of M&E Clerk 1813-1961

Concord MM Men's Clerk 1801-1828

Short Creek QM Men's Clerk 1807-1935

Short Creek QM Women's Clerk 1807-1935

Short Creek QM Clerk 1935-1998

New Garden QM Men's Clerk 1824-1836

Stillwater QM Men's Clerk 1821-1950

Stillwater QM Clerk 1950-

Ohio YM M&O Clerk 1962-

Pennsville QM Men's Clerk 1855-1926

Pennsville QM Women's Clerk 1855-1922

Pennsville QM M&E Clerk 1855-1926

Salem QM Clerk -

Salem QM Men's Clerk 1808-

Ohio Rep. Meeting Clerk 1958-

Stillwater QM Women's Clerk 1821-1950

Deerfield MM Women's Clerk 1827-1835

Pennsville MM Women's Clerk 1835-1904

Keystone Fellowship MM Clerk 2006-

Keystone Fellowship M&O Clerk 2011-

Stillwater Select QM Clerk 1821-

Deerfield MM Men's Clerk 1827-1835

Pennsville MM Men's Clerk 1835-1904

Chesterfield Women's MM Clerk 1837-1915

Salem (Iowa) Men's QM Clerk 1854-1860

Salem (Iowa) Women's QM Clerk 1854-1860

Ohio GM Clerk 1863-1877

Flushing Men's PM Clerk 1806-1932

Rockingham MM Clerk 1978-

Short Creek Men's PM Clerk 1801-1863

Plymouth MM Men's Clerk 1850-1897

Plymouth MM Women's Clerk 1850-1897

Plymouth PM Men's Clerk 1841-1903

Southland PM Men's Clerk 1850-1890

Chesterfield MM (P) Clerk 1865-1874

Plainfield Men's MM Clerk 1808-1828

Concord MM Men's Assistant Clerk 1801-1828

Ridge PM Women's Clerk 1815-

Somerset MM Men's Clerk 1821-1960

Somerset MM Women's Clerk 1821-

Rockingham QM Clerk 2012-

Marlborough MM Clerk 2016-

Rockingham QM M&O Clerk 2012-

Marlborough MM Men's Clerk 1814-1855

Springfield Men's QM Clerk 1836-1872

Marlborough MM Women's Clerk 1814-1855

Springfield Women's QM Clerk 1836-1872

Springfield Select QM Clerk 1836-1872

Salem Men's MM Clerk 1805-

Salem Women's MM Clerk 1805-

Providence Men's MM Clerk 1817-1869

Springfield Men's PM Clerk 1808-1932

Sandy Spring Women's MM Clerk 1820-1873

Upper Springfield Men's MM Clerk 1825-1935

Sewickley Men's MM Clerk 1866-1874

 

EVENTS

 

BOOKS

 

DISCUSSION