Public Universal Friend
The Public Universal Friend,[note 1] born Jemima Wilkinson[note 2] (November 29, 1752 - July 1, 1819), was an American preacher born in Cumberland, Rhode Island, to Quaker parents. The Friend suffered a severe illness in 1776 and reported having died and been reanimated as a genderless evangelist named the Public Universal Friend, and afterwards shunned the name Jemima Wilkinson and gendered pronouns. In androgynous clothes, the Friend preached throughout the northeastern United States, attracting many followers who became the Society of Universal Friends.
The Public Universal Friend's theology was broadly similar to that of orthodox Quakers, believing in free will, opposing slavery, and supporting sexual abstinence. The most committed members of the Society of Universal Friends were a group of unmarried women who took leading roles in their households and community. In the 1790s, the Society acquired land in western New York where they formed the township of Jerusalem near Penn Yan, New York. The Society of Universal Friends ceased to exist by the 1860s. Many writers have portrayed the Friend as a woman, and either a pioneer or a fraud, while others have viewed the preacher as transgender.
The person who would later become the Public Universal Friend was born on November 29, 1752 in Cumberland, Rhode Island, the eighth child of Amy (or Amey, née Whipple) and Jeremiah Wilkinson, becoming the fourth generation of the family to live in America. The Friend's great-grandfather Lawrence Wilkinson was an officer in the army of Charles I who had emigrated from England around 1650 and was active in colonial government, and father Jeremiah was a cousin of Stephen Hopkins, the colony's longtime governor and signer of the Declaration of Independence. Jeremiah attended traditional worship with the Society of Friends (the Quakers) at the Smithfield Meeting House. Early biographer David Hudson says that Amy was also a member of the Society for many years, while later biographer Herbert Wisbey finds no evidence of that, but quotes Moses Brown as saying the child was "born such" because of Jeremiah's affiliation. Amy died when the Friend was 12 or 13 in 1764, shortly after giving birth to a twelfth child.
The Friend was strong and athletic and an adept horse rider from an early age, and remained so in adulthood, liking spirited horses and ensuring that animals received good care. An avid reader,[note 3] the Friend was able to quote long passages of the Bible and prominent Quaker texts from memory, and had fine black hair and black eyes. Little else is reliably known about the Friend's youth; some early accounts portray the youth as fond of fine clothes and averse to labor, but there is no contemporaneous evidence of this and Wisbey considers it doubtful. Moyer says it may have been invented to fit a then-common narrative of people who experienced dramatic religious awakenings.
In the mid-1770s, the Friend began attending meetings in Cumberland with New Light Baptists who had formed as part of the Great Awakening and emphasized individual enlightenment. The Friend stopped attending meetings of the Society of Friends, and was disciplined for that in February 1776 and disowned by the Smithfield Meeting in August. The Friend's sister Patience was dismissed at the same time for having an illegitimate child; brothers Stephen and Jeptha had been dismissed by the pacifistic Society in May 1776 for training for military service. Amid these family disturbances and the broader ones of the American Revolutionary War, unsatisfied with the New Light Baptists and shunned by the Quakers, the Friend faced much stress in 1776.
Becoming the Public Universal Friend
A number of diseases spread throughout Rhode Island in 1776 and the Friend contracted one in October, most likely typhus, being left bedridden and near death with a high fever. Family summoned a doctor from Attleboro, six miles away, and neighbors kept up a death-watch at night. The fever broke after several days. The former Quaker then reported having died and received revelations from God through two archangels, and said their soul had ascended to heaven and the body had been reanimated with a new spirit charged by God with preaching his word, that of the "Publick Universal Friend", describing that name in the words of Isaiah 62:2 as "a new name which the mouth of the Lord hath named". In the 18th and 19th centuries, some writers said that the Friend did die for a brief or even extended period, while others suggested the whole illness was feigned; accounts by the doctor and other witnesses say that the illness was real but that no-one noticed the Friend die.
The Friend refused to answer any longer to the name Jemima Wilkinson, quoted Luke 23:3 ("thou sayest it") when visitors asked if it was the name of the person they were addressing, and ignored or chastised those who insisted on using it.[note 3] Identifying as neither male nor female, the Friend asked not to be referred to with gendered pronouns; followers respected these wishes, avoiding gender-specific pronouns even in their private diaries, and referring only to "the Public Universal Friend" or short forms such as "the Friend" or "P.U.F."
The Friend dressed in a manner perceived to be either androgynous or masculine, in long, loose clerical robes which were most often black, and wore a white or purple kerchief or cravat around the neck like men of the time. The preacher did not wear a hair-cap indoors, like women of the era, and outdoors wore broad-brimmed, low-crowned beaver hats of a style worn by Quaker men. Accounts of the Friend's "feminine-masculine tone of voice" varied; some hearers described it as "clear and harmonious", or said the preacher spoke "with ease and facility", "clearly, though without elegance"; others described it as "grum and shrill", or like a "kind of croak, unearthly and sepulchral". The Friend was said to move easily, freely, and modestly, and was described by Ezra Stiles as "decent & graceful & grave".
Beliefs, preaching, and the Society of Universal Friends
The Friend began to travel and preach throughout Rhode Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania accompanied by brother Stephen and sisters Deborah, Elizabeth, Marcy,[note 4] and Patience, all of whom were disowned by the Society of Friends. Early on, the Public Universal Friend preached that people needed to repent of their sins and be saved before an imminent Day of Judgment. According to Abner Brownell, the preacher predicted that the fulfillment of some prophecies of Revelation would begin around April 1780, 42 months after the Universal Friend began preaching, and interpreted New England's Dark Day in May 1780 as fulfillment of that prediction. According to a Philadelphia newspaper, later followers Sarah Richards and James Parker believed themselves to be the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation and accordingly wore sackcloth for a time.
The Friend did not bring a Bible to worship meetings, which were initially held outdoors or in borrowed meeting houses, but preached long sections of the scriptures from memory. The meetings attracted large audiences, including some who formed a congregation of "Universal Friends", making the Friend "the first native-born American to found a religious community". These followers included roughly equal numbers of women and men who were predominantly under 40. Most were from Quaker backgrounds, though orthodox Quakers discouraged and disciplined members for attending meetings with the Friend, whom the Society of Friends had disowned, disapproving of what William Savery considered "pride and ambition to distinguish herself from the rest of mankind". Free Quakers, disowned by the main Society of Friends for participating in the American War of Independence, were particularly sympathetic and opened meetinghouses to the Universal Friends, appreciating that many of them had also sympathized with the Patriot cause, including members of the Friend's family.
Popular newspapers and pamphlets covered the Friend's sermons in detail by the mid-1870s, with several Philadelphia newspapers being particularly critical; they fomented enough opposition that noisy crowds gathered outside each place the preacher stayed or spoke in 1788. Most papers focused more on the preacher's ambiguous gender than on theology, which was broadly similar to the teachings of orthodox Quakers; one person who heard the Friend in 1788 said "from common report I expected to hear something out of the way in doctrine, which is not the case, in fact [I] heard nothing but what is common among preachers" in Quaker churches. The Friend's theology was so similar to the Quakers' that one of two published works associated with the preacher was a plagiarism of Isaac Penington's Works because, according to Abner Brownell, the Friend felt that the sentiments would have more resonance if republished in the name of the Universal Friend. The Universal Friends' language, too, was like the Society of Friends', using thee and thou instead of the singular you.
The Friend rejected the ideas of predestination and election, held that anyone regardless of gender could gain access to God's light and that God spoke directly to individuals who had free will to choose how to act and believe, and believed in the possibility of universal salvation. Calling for the abolition of slavery, the Friend persuaded followers who held people in slavery to free them. Several members of the congregation of Universal Friends were black, and they acted as witnesses for manumission papers. The Friend preached humility and hospitality towards everyone; kept religious meetings open to the public, and housed and fed visitors, including those who came only out of curiosity and Indians, with whom the preacher generally had a cordial relationship. The Friend had few personal possessions, mostly given by followers, and never held any real property except in trust.[note 3]
The Friend preached sexual abstinence and disfavored marriage, but did not see celibacy as mandatory and accepted marriage, especially as preferable to breaking abstinence outside of wedlock. Most followers did marry, but the portion who did not was significantly above the national average of the time. The preacher also held that women should "obey God rather than men", and the most committed followers included roughly four dozen unmarried women known as the Faithful Sisterhood who took on leading roles which were often reserved to men. The portion of households headed by women in the Society's settlements (20%) was much higher than in surrounding areas.
Around 1785, the Friend met Sarah and Abraham Richards; after their unhappy marriage was ended when Abraham died in 1786 on a visit to the preacher, Sarah and her infant daughter took up residence with the Friend, adopted a similarly androgynous hairstyle, dress, and mannerisms (as did a few other close female friends), and came to be called Sarah Friend. The Friend entrusted Richards with holding the society's property in trust, and sent her to preach in one part of the country when the Friend was in another. Richards had a large part in planning and building the house in which she and the preacher lived in the township of Jerusalem; she died in 1793 and left her child to the Friend's care.
Settlement of the Gore and Jerusalem, and legal issues
In the mid-1780s, the Universal Friends began to plan a town for themselves in western New York. By late 1788, vanguard members of the Society had established a settlement in the Genesee River area; by March 1790, it was ready enough that the rest of the Universal Friends set out to join it. However, problems arose. James Parker spent three weeks in 1791 petitioning the governor and land office of New York on behalf of the Society to get a title to the land that the Friends had settled, but while most of the buildings and other improvements that the Universal Friends made were to the east of the initial Preemption Line and thus in New York, when the line was resurveyed in 1792 at least 25 homes and farms were now west of it, outside the area granted by New York, and residents were forced to repurchase their lands from the Pulteney Association. The town, which had been known as the Friend's Settlement, therefore came to be called The Gore.
Furthermore, the lands were in the tract on which Phelps and Gorham defaulted which was resold to financier Robert Morris and then to the Pulteney Association, absentee British speculators. Each change of hands drove prices higher, as did an influx of new settlers attracted by the Society's improvements to the area. The community lacked a solid title to enough land for all its members, and some left. Others wanted to profit by taking ownership of the land for themselves, including Parker and William Potter. To address the first of these issues, members of the Society of Universal Friends had secured some alternative sites. Abraham Dayton acquired a large area of land in Canada from Governor John Graves Simcoe, though Sarah Richards persuaded the Friend not to move so far. In addition, Thomas Hathaway and Benedict Robinson had purchased a site in 1789 along a creek which they named Brook Kedron that emptied into the Crooked Lake (Keuka Lake). The new township which the Universal Friends began there came to be called Jerusalem.
The second issue, however, came to a head in the fall of 1799. Judge William Potter, Ontario County, New York magistrate James Parker, and several disillusioned former followers led several attempts to arrest the Friend for blasphemy, which some writers have argued was motivated by disagreements over land ownership and power. An officer tried to seize the Friend while riding with Rachel Malin in the Gore, but the Friend, a skilled rider, escaped. The officer and an assistant later tried to arrest the preacher at home in Jerusalem, but the women of the house drove the men off and tore their clothes. A third attempt was carefully planned by a posse of 30 men who surrounded the home after midnight, broke down the door with an ax, and intended to carry the preacher off in an oxcart. A doctor who had come with the posse stated that the Friend was in too poor a state of health to be moved, and they made a deal that the Friend would appear before an Ontario county court in June 1800, but not before justice Parker. When the Friend appeared before the court, it ruled that no indictable offense had been committed, and invited the preacher to give a sermon to those in attendance.
Death, legacy, and legends
The Public Universal Friend's health had been declining since the turn of the century; by 1816 the preacher had begun to suffer from a painful dropsy (edema), but continued to receive visitors and give sermons. After a final regular appearance was in November 1818, the Friend preached at the funeral of sister Patience Wilkinson Potter in April 1819. The preacher died on July 1, 1819; the congregation's death book records "25 minutes past 2 on the Clock, The Friend went from here." In accordance with the Friend's wishes, only a regular meeting and no funeral service was held afterwards. The body was placed in a coffin with an oval glass window set in top, interred four days after death in a thick stone vault in the cellar of the Friend's house; several years later, it was removed and buried in an unmarked grave in accordance with the preacher's preference. Obituaries appeared in papers throughout the eastern United States. Although close followers remained faithful, their own deaths over time and the congregation's inability to attract new converts, and a number of legal and religious disagreements, meant the Society of Universal Friends disappeared by the 1860s.
The Jemima Wilkinson House and temporary burial chamber stands in the township of Jerusalem, and it is included on the National Register of Historic Places. It is believed to be located on the same branch of Keuka Lake as the birthplace of Seneca Chief Red Jacket, but his birthplace is disputed. The Yates County Genealogical and Historical Society's museums in Penn Yan exhibit the Friend's portrait, Bible, carriage, hat, saddle, and documents from the Society of Universal Friends. As late as the 1900s, inhabitants of Little Rest, Rhode Island called a species of solidago Jemima weed because its appearance in the town coincided with the preacher's first visit to the area in the 1770s.
The Friend and followers were pioneers of the area between Seneca and Keuka lakes. They erected a grain mill, the first mill in western New York, at Dresden, New York, now marked with a New York state historic marker.
A variety of myths circulated about the Friend. Some writers spun stories of the preacher despotically bossing followers around or banishing them for years, making married followers divorce, or taking their personal or real property, even attempting and failing to raise the dead or walk on water; there is no contemporaneous evidence for these stories, and people who knew the Friend said that they were false, including some who were never followers. Another story began at a 1787 meeting of Universal Friends and guests in Pennsylvania, at which Abigail Dayton and Sarah Wilson had a disagreement; afterward, Wilson said that Dayton tried to strangle her in her sleep but choked her bedmate Anna Steyers by mistake. Steyers denied that anything had happened, and others present attributed Wilson's fears to a nightmare, but Philadelphia papers printed an embellished version of the accusation and several follow-ups, with critics alleging that the attack must have had the Friend's approval, and the story eventually morphing into one in which the Friend (who was in Rhode Island at the time) was said to have strangled Wilson.
Though the Public Universal Friend identified as genderless, neither a man nor a woman, writers have often portrayed the preacher as a woman, and either a fraudulent schemer who deceived and manipulated followers, or a pioneering leader who founded several towns in which women were empowered to take on roles often reserved to men. These writers include historians Michael Bronski, Susan Juster, and Catherine Brekus. Bronski says that the Friend would not have been called transgender or transvestite "by the standards and the vocabulary" of the time, but he calls the Friend a "transgender evangelist". Juster calls the Friend a "spiritual transvestite", and says that followers considered the Friend's clothing congruent with the genderless spirit which they believed animated the preacher.
Juster and others state that the Friend may have embodied Paul's statement in Galatians 3:28 that "there is neither male nor female" in Christ. Catherine Wessinger, Brekus, and others state that the Friend defied the idea of gender as binary and as natural and essential or innate, though Brekus and Juster argue that the Friend nonetheless reinforced views of male superiority by "dressing like a man" and repeatedly insisting on not being a woman. Scott Larson, disagreeing with narratives that place the Public Universal Friend into the gender binary as a woman, writes that the Friend can be understood as a chapter in trans history "before 'transgender'".
- Ann Lee, contemporary leader of another new religious movement
- Jennie June (autobiographer) (early androgyne / trans person also from a religious family in New England)
- Original spelling: the Publick Universal Friend. Shortened forms: the Universal Friend, the Friend, or P.U.F.
- Some older texts use the spelling Jemimah Wilkinson, see e.g. those quoted by Moyer, p. 101 and pp. 106-108 or Wisbey, p. 93.
- The preacher shunned the name "Jemima" completely, having friends hold realty in trust rather than see the name on deeds and titles (Wisbey. p. 54). Even when a lawyer insisted that the person's will identify its subject as "the person who before the year one thousand seven hundred & seventy seven was known & called by the name of Jemima Wilkinson but since that time as the Universal Friend", the preacher refused to sign that name, only making an X which others witnessed (Wisbey, p. 167; Moyer, p. 194). This led some writers to mistakenly think that the evangelist could not read or write (Wisbey, p. 167).
- Marcy's name is spelled Mercy in some records (Wisbey, p. 15).
- Wisbey, p. 3 (birth date) and p. 163 (death date), and Moyer, p. 13 (birth date) and p. 243 (death date)
- Peg A. Lamphier, Rosanne Welch, Women in American History (2017, ISBN 1610696034), p. 331.
- Wisbey, p. 3; Moyer, p. 13; Hudson, pp. 11-12.
- Wisbey, pp. 2-4.
- New York Folklore Quarterly (1955), vol. 11, p. 22
- Hudson, p. 9.
- Wisbey, pp. 2-4; Moyer, pp. 13-14.
- Wisbey, pp. 2-4; Lamphier & Welch, p. 331.
- Wisbey, p. 53; The New-England Galaxy (1961), vol. 3, p. 5; York State Tradition (1968), vol. 22, p. 18.
- Wisbey, p. 5; Moyer, pp. 13-14; Lamphier & Welch, p. 331.
- Wisbey, pp. 24-26; Hudson, p. 106.
- Hudson, pp. 11-12.
- Wisbey, pp. 7-8; Hudson, pp. 15-16.
- Wisbey, pp. 7-8; Lend a Hand (1893), volume 10, § Jemima Wilkinson, p. 127.
- Moyer, p. 67; The New-England Galaxy (1961), vol. 3, p. 7
- Wisbey, pp. 7-8; Moyer, p. 15 and p. 40.
- Wisbey, p. 9; Moyer, p. 18.
- Wisbey, pp. 7-14; Moyer, p. 18.
- Wisbey, pp. 10-12; Moyer, p. 12 and p. 18.
- Bronski, Michael (2011). A Queer History of the United States. Xxx: Beacon Press. p. 50. ISBN 0807044652.
- Douglas L. Winiarski, Darkness Falls on the Land of Light (2017, ISBN 1469628279), p. 430.
- James L. Roark, Michael P. Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, The American Promise, Combined Volume: A History of the United States (2012, ISBN 0312663129) p. 307.
- Hudson, p. 207; Wisbey, p. 34: The new name "reflected Quaker acceptance of Isaiah's affirmation (Isaiah 62:2): 'Thou shalt be called by a new name which the mouth of the Lord shall name.'"
- Moyer, p. 12; Winiarski, p. 430; and Susan Juster, Lisa MacFarlane, A Mighty Baptism: Race, Gender, and the Creation of American Protestantism (1996, ISBN 0801482127), p. 27, and p. 28.
- Hudson, p. 118
- Catherine A. Brekus, Strangers and Pilgrims: Female Preaching in America, 1740-1845 (2000, ISBN 0807866547), p. 85
- Juster & MacFarlane, A Mighty Baptism, pp. 27-28; Brekus, p. 85
- Moyer, pp. 90-93; Brekus, p. 87; Hudson, p. 106; and Susan Juster, "Neither male nor female", in Possible Pasts: Becoming Colonial in Early America, pp. 362-363.
- Juster & MacFarlane, A Mighty Baptism, pp. 27-28; Roark et al, p. 307.
- Moyer, p. 92; Brekus, p. 87.
- Moyer, p. 95; Brekus, p. 87.
- Wisbey, p. 54; Moyer, pp. 90-93.
- Juster, "Neither male nor female", pp. 362-363.
- Moyer, p. 95; Juster, "Neither male nor female", pp. 362-363.
- Wisbey, p. 24.
- Wisbey, p. 28; and The New-England Galaxy (1961), vol. 3, p. 5.
- Wisbey, p. 15; Moyer, p. 26.
- Wisbey, p. 16; Hudson, p. 27 and p. 44.
- Wisbey, p. 18 and p. 29; Moyer, p. 2.
- Wisbey, p. 47; Moyer, p. 64, and pp. 1-2.
- Moyer, p. 64.
- Rappleye, p. 187.
- June Melby Benowitz, Encyclopedia of American Women and Religion, 2nd Edition (2017, ISBN 1440839875), p. 638
- Moyer, p. 33 (gender), p. 34 (age), p. 35 (marriage).
- Wisbey, p. 35.
- Moyer, pp. 33-35; Lamphier & Welch, p. 331.
- Wisbey, pp. 84-85.
- Bronski, p. 51; Juster, "Neither male nor female", p. 363.
- Wisbey, p. 53.
- Bronski, p. 51
- Juster, "Neither male nor female", p. 363
- Wisbey, pp. 34-35; Moyer, pp. 57-60.
- Wisbey, pp. 28-29.
- Wisbey, pp. 32-33.
- Joyce Appleby, Eileen Chang, Neva Goodwin, Encyclopedia of Women in American History (2015, ISBN 1317471628), p. 201.
- Charles Rappleye, The Brown Brothers, the Slave Trade, and the American Revolution (2006), p. 187.
- Mrs. Walter A Henricks, The Universal Friend (Jemima Wilkinson), in Daughters of the American Revolution Magazine (1943), p. 120
- Wisbey, p. 46 and p. 207; Moyer, pp. 35-37.
- Moyer, p. 49.
- Wisbey, p. 131.
- Edward T. James, Janet Wilson James, Paul S. Boyer, Notable American Women, 1607-1950: A Biographical Dictionary (1971, ISBN 0674627342), p. 610; The Journal of American History (1915), p. 253
- Wisbey, p. 64; and (about the saddle) Betcher, p. 77.
- Moyer, pp. 33-35 and p. 68.
- Sharon V. Betcher, "The Second Descent of the Spirit of Life from God": the Assumption of Jemima Wilkinson (online copy), in Gender and Apocalyptic Desire, Brenda E. Brasher and Lee Quinby (eds.), 2014, ISBN 1317488873, p. 77 and p. 87.
- Moyer, p. 148 and pp. 157-161.
- Moyer, p. 144.
- Wisbey, pp. 63-64; Juster, "Neither male nor female", pp. 362-363.
- Wisbey, p. 121; Hudson, p. 80.
- Wisbey, pp. 63-64; Emerson Klees, Persons, Places, and Things in the Finger Lakes Region (1993), p. 79.
- Wisbey, p. 123.
- Wisbey, p. 191; Moyer, p. 149 and p. 180.
- Wisbey, p. 96.
Orsamus Turner, History of the Pioneer Settlement of Phelps & Gorham's Purchase (1852)
- Wisbey, pp. 114-116.
- Wisbey, pp. 113-116; Moyer, p. 126.
- Wisbey, p. 109
- Wisbey, pp. 114-116 and p. 140.
- Wisbey, p. 120.
- Moyer, pp. 167-179. See also Wisbey, p. 140.
- Wisbey, pp. 151-152.
- Wisbey, pp. 151-152; Moyer, pp. 167-179.
- Wisbey, pp. 151-152; Moyer, pp. 167-176, and p. 239
- Wisbey, pp. 151-152; Moyer, pp. 167-176, and p. 239; and "Jemima Wilkinson and her "Friend's Society", in the Friends' Intelligencer and Journal, volume 51 (1894), p. 437.
- Wisbey, pp. 161-164; Moyer, pp. 189-190.
- Wisbey, pp. 161-164.
- Wisbey, pp. 164-165; Moyer, pp. 191-192.
- Wisbey, p. 171.
- Wisbey, pp. 164-165.
- Wisbey, p. 46.
- Wisbey, p. 171; Moyer, p. 3, p. 193 and p. 197.
- John H. Martin, Saints, Sinners and Reformers: The Burned-Over District Re-Visited, in the Crooked Lake Review (2005)
- Davis, Miles Avery. History of Jerusalem, vol. 2, p. 5.
- Wisbey, p. 183.
- "Oliver House Museum". Yatespast.org. December 6, 2012. Retrieved December 18, 2012. and Yates County Genealogical & Historical Society Sesquicentennial Celebration 1860-2010
- Wisbey, p. 47; Christian M McBurney, Kingston : a forgotten history (1975), p. 32; and records from when it was still in use: Philip Kittredge Taylor, "Little Rest", in The New England Magazine, vol. 28, no. 2 (April, 1903), p. 139; and Ebenezer Clapp (compiler), The Clapp Memorial: Record of the Clapp family in America (1876), p. 372.
- W. H. McIntosh, History of Ontario Co., New York (1878), p. 15.
- Wisbey, pp. 48-49 and Moyer, p. 3 (raising dead); and Wisbey, pp. 181-182 and Moyer, p. 203 (walking on water and the tales' falsity; Moyer (p. 203) adds that the story of a follower being banished to Nova Scotia may be a distortion of how an early follower and British loyalist fled to Nova Scotia during the Revolutionary War.
- Wisbey, p. 64 and p. 127 (taking personal items); Moyer, p. 179 (making followers divorce and will property to them).
- Wisbey, pp. 89-90; Moyer, pp. 105-109.
- Moyer, p. 8, pp. 93-94, p. 155.
- Bronski, page 53.
- Aaron Weiner, Jemima Wilkinson, Elusive Messiah by Robert Boucheron, September 13, 2011, Streetlight
- A Queer History of the United States (review/summary), May 10, 2011, in the Beacon Broadside of Beacon Press
- Juster, "Neither male nor female", p. 373.
- Scott Larson, "Indescribable Being": Theological Performances of Genderlessness in the Society of the Publick Universal Friend, 1776–1819, Early American Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (University of Pennsylvania Press), volume 12, number 3, Fall 2014, pp. 576-600
- Charles Campbell, 1 Corinthians: Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (2018, ISBN 1611648432)
- Catherine Wessinger, The Oxford Handbook of Millennialism (2016, ISBN 0190611944), p. 173; Brekus, p. 90; Betcher, p. 77.
- Moyer, p. 207 (discussing Brekus and Juster's views); Brekus, p. 90.
- Rachel Hope Cleves, Beyond the Binaries in Early America: Special Issue Introduction, Early American Studies 12.3 (2014), pp. 459-468; and The Routledge History of Queer America, edited by Don Romesburg (2018, ISBN 1317601025), esp. § "Revolution's End".
- Hinds, William Alfred Hinds. American Communities and Cooperative Colonies.  Second Revision. Chicago, IL: Charles H. Kerr & Co., 1908.
- Hudson, David. History of Jemima Wilkinson: A Preacheress of the Eighteenth Century; containing an authentic narrative of her life and character, and of the rise, progress and conclusion of her ministry (1821). online
- Moyer, Paul B. The Public Universal Friend: Jemima Wilkinson and Religious Enthusiasm in Revolutionary America. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2015.
- Wisbey, Herbert A. Jr (2009) . Pioneer Prophetess: Jemima Wilkinson, the Publick Universal Friend. Cornell University Press. ISBN 978-0-8014-7551-1.
- The Friend's Society Index, US GenNet
- "Jemima Wilkinson: Celibacy and the Communal Life, The Re-Incarnation of the Divine in Female Form, 1758-1819", Crooked Lake Review.
- "Last Will & Testament", Freepages, Rootsweb
- Social roots of the Mormon United Order, 2005
- "Incorporation Papers for Universal Friends", PBS History Detectives
- Claus Bernet (2002). "Public Universal Friend". In Bautz, Traugott (ed.). Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL) (in German). 20. Nordhausen: Bautz. cols. 1545–1553. ISBN 3-88309-091-3.