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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 713

Wheatly, Robert. Papers, 1919-2001.


Papers of Unitarian minister Robert Wheatly, including correspondence, biographical information, and material related to his education, work, and ministry, much of it related to his work with the gay and lesbian community. The papers span 1919-2001.


  • 1919-2001.


There are no restrictions on access with the exception of the following: The letters of recommendation in box 3 are restricted for 75 years from the date of creation. The personal information from marriage and same-sex union records may not be published without the permission of the parties involved in these ceremonies. This restriction is in place for 50 years from the date of creation of those records.


8 boxes
This collection contains biographical material; photographs of Wheatly and his family members and groups he worked with; records reflecting his work experiences both in and outside his formal ministry in the American Unitarian Association (AUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA); correspondence, sermons and talks, and records of marriage and holy union ceremonies he officiated at. Also included are Wheatly’s collections of worship materials, subject files, and biographical files. Further material concerning Robert Wheatly may be found at the History Project.

Biographical / Historical

Robert P. Wheatly (September 17, 1919-October 31, 2002) was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma and raised in Jacksonville, Florida. He was ordained by the Disciples of Christ in 1941, and became a Unitarian in 1945. Wheatly received a B.A. degree from Stetson University in 1948. From 1949 until 1955, Wheatly served Unitarian churches in Westboro and Lawrence, MA; Manchester, NH; and Jacksonville, FL. He left the ministry in 1955, and from 1955-1956 he taught at the Fenn School for Boys in Concord, New Hampshire. He held a number of positions in the business world from 1956-1967. He attended Harvard Divinity School, and received a B.D. degree from the Crane School of Religion at Tufts University in 1968. From 1967 until 1972 he held a number of positions, including credit and collection for Beth Israel Hospital (1967-1971); field supervisor for the U.S. Census (1970); and fund raiser for the Arlington Street Church (1971). From 1973-1977 he was Executive Director for the Cambridge Council on Aging. In 1979, Wheatly was ordained into the Unitarian Universalist ministry and subsequently served the Unitarian Universalist Church in Medford, MA. Wheatly is known for his work in recognizing gay, lesbian and bisexual concerns and was instrumental in the founding of several gay and lesbian organizations. He started Gays and Lesbians Affirmed (GALA) in 1978, was one of the founders of Prime Timers (a group for older gay men) in 1987, and started Boston Unitarian Universalist Gays and Lesbians (BUUGL). He also served as Director for the Unitarian Universalist Office on Gay and Lesbian Concerns; Executive Secretary for the Unitarian Universalist Committee on Aging; and Associate Director for the Unitarian Universalist Office on Social Responsibility from 1977-1986. Wheatly retired from the UUA in 1987. Wheatly and his life partner, Kenneth J. English, were together for forty-five years until Wheatly’s death in 2002.


Organized into the following series:
  1. Series I. Personal
  2. Series II. Education
  3. Series III. Work and ministry
  4. Series IV. Unitarian Universalist Association
  5. Series V. Meetings and conferences
  6. Series VI. Educational Programs
  7. Series VII. Correspondence
  8. Subseries A. Personal correspondence
  9. Subseries B. Church correspondence
  10. Subseries C. Organizational correspondence
  11. Series VIII. Sermons and talks given by Wheatly
  12. Series IX. Marriage and holy union ceremonies Wheatly officiated at, 1971-1986
  13. Series X. Worship materials
  14. Series XI. Subject files

Acquisition Information

Gift of Kenneth English, 2003.

General note

The number after the slash in each entry in the following list indicates the box number, and the number in parentheses is the folder number.

Processing Information

Processed by Carol Filip, 2011.
Link to catalog
Wheatly, Robert. Papers, 1919-2001: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Andover-Harvard Theological Library preserves and makes accessible primary source materials documenting the history of religion and theology, with particular historical emphasis on American liberal religious traditions. Though the historical strengths of the collections have been in the field of Christianity, other religious traditions are increasingly reflected, in step with Harvard Divinity School's evolving focus on global religious studies.

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