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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 2

Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading. Records, 1857-1929.

This collection contains records from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, Massachusetts. It includes annual meeting warrants and annual reports from 1857 to 1929; annual reports of the Liberal Ladies Benevolent Association from 1840 to 1919; income/expense notebooks of the Liberal Ladies Membership records 1870–1900; pew rental records, 1866–1868, 1888; Men’s Club minutes, 1916–1922; and Youth Group minutes, 1939–1940.

Dates

  • 1857-1929.

Access

There are no restrictions on access to this collection. The material in this collection has been digitized and it is available through Internet Archive

Extent

3 boxes

This collection contains records from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, Massachusetts. It includes annual meeting warrants and annual reports from 1857 to 1929 (including financial records and some membership lists); annual reports of the Liberal Ladies Benevolent Association from 1840 to 1919 (including financial reports and membership lists); income/expense notebooks of the Liberal Ladies Membership records 1870–1900; pew rental records, 1866–1868, 1888; Men’s Club minutes, 1916–1922; and Youth Group minutes, 1939–1940.

Biographical / Historical

The Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, Massachusetts, is a regional church serving communities north of Boston. In 1827, when the local Congregational church in Reading voted down a resolution that Unitarian ministers occasionally be invited to preach, forty-six members left to form the Third Congregational Society—Unitarian. That group waned in 1845, but the congregation was reorganized as the First Universalist Society of Reading in 1856. They became the independent Christian Union Church in 1869, and reaffiliated as Unitarians in 1870, when they laid the cornerstone for their own church building. Now a thriving congregation of over 300 members, the church became Unitarian Universalist in 1969, following the merger of the two denominations. Mainstays and staunch supporters of the church for eighty years were the women of the Liberal Ladies Benevolent Association. They literally and figuratively kept the faith, raising money to bring liberal preachers to town after the first Unitarian society disbanded in 1845. Known affectionately as the Sewing Circle, these women met monthly to make quilts, sew aprons and pinafores, and bind shoes (a cottage industry in Reading at the time). With the money they raised through church fairs and private sales, they paid for preaching, made charitable donations, purchased a melodeon for the congregation, helped furnish the church when it was built, and contributed substantially to paying down the mortgage. Their motto was “Happiness is a roadside flower, growing on the highway of Usefulness.”

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading, Massachusetts, 2014.
Title
Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading. Records, 1857-1929: A Finding Aid.
Author
Andover-Harvard Theological Library
EAD ID
div00002

Repository Details

Part of the Andover-Harvard Theological Library, Harvard Divinity School 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.

Contact:
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