On Tuesday, the Meadville Lombard Staff, spearheaded by John Leeker and Eric Biddy, moved a large amount of our archive collection that was housed in First Church to our location in the Spertus Building. Because of these efforts, priceless pieces of Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history are now in being preserved in our climate controlled building, being processed, and cataloged to become more accessible. We are at the beginning of this very long process, but we are excited to share some of the interesting things we have found thus far.
John Leeker shares with us some of the interesting pieces he has found in our archives:
- Handwritten sermons and lectures by Henry Ware Jr., an influential Unitarian minister from the early 1800s. Most of the documents we have date from the 1820-1830s.
- The personal papers of Marjorie Newlin Leaming (1915-2010). Not only an accomplished writer, she is one of the handful of UU women who had their own pulpit in the 1950s and 1960s.
- The records of the Unitarian Society in Lawrence, Kansas from the 1850s. The Unitarians who founded the society moved to Lawrence from Boston to help make Kansas a free state. During the time of the records we have, Lawrence was burnt down twice by slave supporters and was in a constant state of warfare.
- The personal papers of Dorothy Grant (1905-2004). She was a head start teacher, advocate for domestic violence victims, an archivist, author and an all-around awesome person. Most importantly for our archives, she kept detailed records of other U.U. women in the middle of the 20th century, and her papers give us a rare glimpse into the day to day lives women who are otherwise shut out of the historical record.
- The personal papers of James Vila Blake, an important early 20th century Unitarian poet. Included is a book of unpublished love poems, not to be read or published until 25 years after his death, and a collection of love letters that were supposed to be burnt after his death. Both the
poems and the letters are addressed to someone who is not Mrs. Vila Blake. Also, both the poems and the letters were last touched by James Vila Blake himself. They are still unopened, 80 years after he locked them in a box and tied them into a parcel.