Howard Haines Brinton
Howard Haines Brinton
Howard Haines Brinton (1884–1973) was an author, professor and director whose work influenced the Religious Society of Friends movement for much of the 20th century. His books ranged from Quaker journal anthologies to philosophical and historical dissertations on the faith, establishing him as a prominent commentator on the Society of Friends.
He was born on 24 July 1884, in West Chester, Pennsylvania, to a Quaker family. He studied at Haverford College with Rufus Jones and graduated in 1905, obtaining a master’s degree in 1906. He taught at Olney Friends School in Barnesville, Ohio, and at Pickering College in New Market, Ontario. In 1909, he obtained a doctorate in Physics from Harvard.
In 1916, he was appointed acting President of Guilford College, North Carolina. During his presidency, he visited conscientious objectors imprisoned at Camp Jackson, South Carolina; the prisoners were not permitted to communicate with outside and their location was not known to their relatives and friends
This visit inspired him to join, in 1919, the American Friends Service Committee, which allowed Quakers and other pacifists to serve during wartime in nonviolent means. It also co-ordinated relief to the victims of war.
He witnessed the chaotic consequences of war in Upper Silesia. That experience influenced his work as a pacifist speaker and writer in the 1920s and 1930s. It was during this period that he met Anna Shipley Cox (19 October 1887 – 28 October 1969), who also worked in Europe for AFSC. They married when he returned to the United States on 25 July 1921.
In 1925, he obtained a doctorate in Philosophy from the University of California while Anna taught at Mills College. Then they moved to Earlham College in Indiana, where both taught and their first three children were born. In 1929, they returned to California, where their fourth child was born and both taught at Mills.
In 1931, they spent a year in England at Woodbrooke Quaker College in Birmingham.
In 1936, Howard and Anna became co-directors at the Pendle Hill religious center in Wallingford, Pennsylvania. Brinton used this opportunity to produce over a dozen books and pamphlets dealing with Quakerism. Ironically, one of his most productive writing periods came during World War II, during which he published the widely used “A Guide to Quaker Practice.”.
In 1949, Anna Brinton left Pendle Hill to work with AFSC. Howard continued until 1952, when he retired and the couple moved to Japan, in AFSC service. They returned to Pendle Hill in 1954. Howard’s Japanese secretary, Yuki Takahashi, a widow, returned with them to help her employer write his memoirs, which have never been published. In May 1972, the nearly blind and aged Brinton, having obtained consent from his adult children, surprised everyone by marrying Takahashi.
He died on 9 April 1973 and is buried at Oakland Friends Cemetery, West Chester, Pennsylvania.