Jones, Rufus (Matthew)(1863–1948) philosopher, historian, social reformer; born in South China, Maine. Child of devout Quaker parents, he attended Haverford College (B.A. 1885; M.A. 1886) and chose to devote himself to understanding and promoting Quakerism. He taught at Quaker preparatory schools before returning to join the faculty of Haverford to teach philosophy (1893–1933). He was a minister of the Society of Friends from 1890 on and was much in demand as a preacher and speaker. Among several Quaker periodicals he edited was one he also founded, the American Friend (1893–1912). A prolific author, he was best known for the four volumes he published (between 1905–21) on the history of Quakerism and related religions. A militant pacifist, he became widely admired for his work with the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), which he helped found in 1917. (He was its first chairperson, 1917–28, then again from 1935–44.) He succeeded in having overseas service with the AFSC count as an alternative to American military service. He directed the AFSC's many projects in the years between World War I and World War II—helping refugees, sufferers from famine, and those caught up in revolutions. The AFSC was one of the few non-Jewish organizations that intervened to help Jewish victims of the Nazis and Jones himself went to Germany in 1938 to obtain some cooperation from the Gestapo. During World War II he directed the AFSC's many activities on behalf of refugees; for this work the AFSC shared (with its British counterpart) the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947. By the end of his career he had effectively reinvigorated the American Quaker community through both his activities and intellectual efforts.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.