In 1996, the State College Friends Meeting in Pennsylvania initiated an Oral History Project; the purpose of the project was to preserve, by audiotape and in print, the personal memories of its seniors (those who were sixty years old or older). From these interviews of exceptional Quakers, Christine Ayoub compiles a vivid historical and biographical piece in Memories of the Quaker Past: Stories of thirty-seven senior Quakers.

This absorbing work consists of interview excerpts of senior members of State College Friends Meeting. The narrators who lived through the Great Depression tell of their difficult childhoods. The narrators of the interviews include conscientious objectors, who tell of their experiences in CPS Camps during the Second World War; other narrators speak of using nonviolent methods with mental patients, while still others relate the story of the human guinea experiments that some of them participated in. On the other hand, one of the narrators, who joined the navy during the war, tells some intriguing stories of serving as navigator on a troopship. Perhaps the most exciting tales in Memories of the Quaker Past: Stories of thirty-seven senior Quakers consist of those who did relief work after the war overseas, especially those of the four who worked with the Friends Ambulance Unit in China.

"We feel that these life histories may serve as a very valuable research tool, especially considering the tumultuous epoch spanned by these lives," Ayoub wrote in the introduction. "The narrators in our study were born between 1910 and 1940. However, most of the narrators experienced the Great Depression in their childhood and came of age at the time of the Second World War. Social scientists increasingly appreciate the value of longitudinal studies-formal and informal-for increasing our appreciation of human development. In our oral histories, we have the added benefit of focusing on women's lives as well as men's."

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