Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2015

Published In

Winterthur Portfolio


For observant members of the Society of Friends in greater London and Philadelphia during the eighteenth century, navigating the Quaker plainness testimony involved material culture choices that might be viewed by non-Quakers as concealing motives of frugality or blurring class lines or as violating standards of decency and propriety. This was particularly true of coffins, which were carried through the streets from home to burial ground followed by family and friends. On this public stage, Quaker coffin choices satisfied the requirements for plainness while at the same time they demonstrated family values and fulfilled societal expectations.


This work is freely available courtesy of University of Chicago Press and the Henry Francis Dupont Winterthur Museum.