Single Sisters Transition Meeting
[Note: This document records what must have been a brainstorming session for how to sustain the Single Sisters Choir as an independent unit after the 1762 shift to a market-based economy.]
Projects for the intended change of the Bethlehem Economy, re: Single Sisters, 1761
Regarding the Single Sisters House:
There are two chief difficulties, which will be able to be dealt with in the course of time. The first is that that a Choir House cannot well survive if it does not have a masters or merchants profit from several industries.
The other is that it has neither a cellar nor business accommodations. In this matter the following resources occur to us: Two new English Sisters are said to be in the Girls House; one of these is named Ashley, and she is said to understand linen weaving. If she can be replaced by someone else [in the Girls House], there would be the beginning of a weaving-shop [for the Single Sisters Choir]. Maybe one could allow [the Single Sisters] a small piece of field in order to sew flax or hemp, which they could prepare and spin, and in time more could come to weave.
They could also buy wool, spin it in the House, and give it to the boys to be woven, to be sold in the house.
If they began a small eating house, perhaps it would come as a favor for some families, who could have a piece of meat and vegetables or soup on an afternoon or evening, without themselves having to cook for two people.
There was also a question whether one could not fence in a piece of field for them, so they could keep a pair of cows for their own use.
Several from their choir could become seamstresses, and make linens for the Indian Single Brethren, and others.
A few could mend.
The small square where the laboratory was could be allowed to them instead of a storehouse.
Regarding the children who are here whose parents live in the area: It would be useful if the Vorsteherin of the Single Sisters (or in her name) wrote to the parents to notify them of the change and ask: What do you want now? How should your children be taken care of? That will perhaps be more effective than when the same occurred in the name of the Oeconomy. Their house with the wing is, in the old paper, assessed at £750, which at 8 percent comes to £60 annual rent.*
* That is, the Single Sisters were to pay an annual rent equal to eight percent of their buildings value.
Translation and transcription by Katherine E. Carté