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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 72

Fahs, Sophia Blanche Lyon, 1876-1978. Papers, 1880-1990.


Papers of Unitarian educator, editor, author, and minister Sophia Blanche Lyon Fahs (1876-1978) including correspondence between Fahs and her colleagues and family members; biographical and personal material; subject files used in her writing; published and unpublished materials by Fahs, and photographs and other audiovisual material. The papers cover 1880-1990.


  • 1880-1990.


23 boxes

This collection consists of two separate acquisitions. The first ten boxes were donated by SLF in 1969. Boxes 11-23 were donated by Brenda Beck, SLF's granddaughter, in 2001. The first ten boxes consist of correspondence, 1903-1968; subject files related to Fahs' work at the Park Avenue Baptist Church, 1923-1924; the Union School of Religion, 1924-1929; the Union Theological Seminary, and the Riverside Church, all in New York City. It also includes material related to her work as editor of children's materials for the American Unitarian Association (AUA). This material includes correspondence with Ernest Kuebler (director of the AUA Division of Education) concerning the development of the New Beacon Series in Religious Education (1942-1962); correspondence with Duncan Howlett representing differences within the AUA Curriculum Committee (1941-1945); and correspondence with Abigail Adams Eliot, director of the Nursery Training School of Boston, pertaining to books being written for the Beacon series (1937-1953).

Boxes 11-23 contain additional biographical and personal material; considerable personal correspondence among the various members of the Fahs and Lyon families, SLF's correspondence with her colleagues; religious education materials which reflect SLF's interest in establishing a center for religious education; subject files used by SLF in her writing; published and unpublished writings by SLF, and photographs and other audiovisual materials.

Biographical / Historical

Sophia Blanche Lyon Fahs (1876-1978) was a Unitarian educator, editor, author, and minister, with a special interest in and innovative approach to the religious education of children. The daughter of Presbyterian missionaries, she was born in China and married Charles Harvey Fahs, a Methodist minister, in 1902. She received her A.B. from the College of Wooster (1897); her M.A. from Teacher's College, Columbia University (1904), and a B.D. from Union Theological Seminary (1926). She taught religious education at Union from 1927-1944, and was on the staff of the church school at Riverside Church, New York City (1933-1942). She was the editor of children's material for the American Unitarian Association (1937-1951), and author of several books and articles in the area of religious education. She was ordained a Unitarian minister in 1959.


Organized into the following series:

  1. I. General Correspondence
  2. II. Special Correspondence
  3. III. Subject Files
  4. IV. New Beacon Series in Religious Education
  5. V. Conferences and Workshops
  6. VI. Biographical and Bibliographical File
  7. VII. Miscellany
  8. VIII. Biographical and Personal Material
  9. IX. Family Correspondence, 1880-1980
  10. X. Correspondence with Colleagues
  11. XI. Religious Education Material
  12. XII. Subject Files
  13. XIII. Writings by Sophia Lyon Fahs
  14. XIV. Audiovisual and Graphic Materials

Acquisition Information

Boxes 1-10 were donated by Sophia Blanche Lyon Fahs in 1969. Boxes 11-23 were donated by Brenda Beck, SLF's granddaughter, in 2001. Box 17 contains a folder of correspondence between SLF and her colleague Alice Cobb, which was donated by Ms. Cobb in 1992.

Fahs, Sophia Blanche Lyon, 1876-1978. Papers: A Finding Aid.
Andover-Harvard Theological Library
Language of description

Repository Details

Part of the Harvard Divinity School Library, Harvard University Repository

Special Collections at Harvard Divinity School 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. Known as Andover-Harvard Theological Library since 1911, it was renamed the Harvard Divinity School Library in 2021.

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