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COLLECTION Identifier: bMS 479

Papers of Victor H. Carpenter, 1917-2004.


Papers of Unitarian Universalist minister Victor H. Carpenter, including sermons, ministerial records, awards and gifts, as well as material related to his book, Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). The papers span 1917-2004.


  • 1917-2004


There are no restrictions on access to this collection.


16 boxes

This collection contains material related to Rev. Victor Carpenter’s ministerial career, as well as papers related to his book, Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977). Sermons preached by Rev. Carpenter include annotated orders of service. There are also sermons given by others collected by Rev. Carpenter. The ministerial and worship materials include personal papers collected during his ministerial career, project notes and research, church newsletters and bulletins, historical material on individual churches, and photographs, including some of actor Kevin Bacon and his family, who were members of the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, and anthropologist Margaret Mead, who spoke at the church. This collection also consists of work done for and research on Long Challenge..., including research notes, primary research materials related to the book and information on the Black Empowerment Controversy, the Black Affairs Council, correspondence with individuals involved and papers. The collection also contains awards and gifts presented to Rev. Carpenter, such as the Adin Ballou Peace Prize he was awarded in 2003.

Biographical / Historical

Victor H. Carpenter, Jr. (October 23, 1929-) was born in Newton, Massachusetts. He received his AB from Boston University in 1955, was ordained a Unitarian Universalist minister in 1958, received his BD from Harvard Divinity School in 1959, was named a Merill Fellow at HDS in 1974, and received an S.T.D. from Starr King School for the Ministry in Berkeley, CA in 1987. Rev. Dr. Carpenter served as minister for several parishes, including North Fryeberg, Maine (1955-1956); Christ Church in Dorchester, MA (1958); First Parish of Norwell in 1959; Capetown, South Africa (1962-1967); First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia (1968-1976); Arlington Street Church in Boston, MA (1976-1987); First Unitarian Universalist Society of San Francisco (1988-1993); Pacific Unitarian Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA in 1994; and First Church in Belmont, MA from 1994 until his retirement from active fulltime ministry in 2002. Rev. Dr. Carpenter is the author of Stations of the Spirit (Reflections, Essays and Addresses) (1990) and Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977) (2004). He received the Distinguished Service Award at the 2011 General Assembly of Unitarian Universalists by the Board of Trustees for his services to the Association, and for exemplifying the values of the faith. Rev. Dr. Carpenter served as the chair and President of several committees, and presently serves on the Harvard Divinity School’s Unitarian Universalist Theological Education Board of Ministry.


Organized into the following series:

  1. Series I. Sermons
  2. Series II. Ministerial and worship material
  3. Series III. Long Challenge: The Empowerment Controversy (1967-1977), manuscripts and research materials
  4. Series IV. Awards and gifts

Acquisition Information

Gift of Victor H. Carpenter, 2006 and 2011.

Processing Information

Processed by Tamira Beth Stephens, 2012.

Papers of Victor H. Carpenter, 1917-2004: 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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