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Archives & Special Collections
Telling the rich stories of Unitarian Universalism
The Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections are unique. They contain not just the history of the school but of Unitarian Universalism. For over 170 years, the community at Meadville Lombard has been collecting history. We have material from students and scholars (and students who became scholars), from the laity and ministers, and from churches and organizations across the world. As the only exclusively Unitarian Universalist archive, we take seriously the trust the community has placed in us to preserve our shared history.
As a UU archive, that means more than simply having UU materials; it means applying our UU values and principles to how the archive functions. One way we do that is through our Special Collections. A Special Collection is a series of archival collections pertaining to a single event, theme, or movement within Unitarian Universalism. Special Collections are a vital part of the Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections because they empower communities underserved by archives to preserve and make accessible their history.
Special Collections Reading Room
The Archives at Meadville Lombard Theological School is proud to announce the opening of our new Special Collections Reading Room. It is located centrally on Meadville’s 6th floor offices, accessible directly opposite the elevator bank or adjacent to the kitchen galley.
As a space for research and study:
As a space for students:
As a space for Meadville Lombard staff and faculty:
If you have any questions about the Special Collections Reading Room or have a research request, please contact the archivist, John Leeker.
The Meadville Lombard Theological School has one of the most important archives for Unitarian Universalism in North America. Since its creation in 1844, Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections have served a vital role in Unitarian Universalism by safekeeping materials of historical and cultural significance to liberal religion, Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism. We proudly continue this tradition into the twenty-first century.
To best serve scholars and the larger Unitarian Universalist community, all possible acquisitions materials undergo rigorous inspection. All materials acquired by the Meadville Lombard Archives must be generated by individuals and organizations historically and culturally important to liberal religion, Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism. Beyond historical and cultural importance, when inspecting a collection we also consider the condition of the materials and expenses related to shipping and storing of the materials. After we have received a collection, we will remove materials lacking in historical and cultural significance within the collection so that we can maximize the accessibility of the collection.
The core mission of the Meadville Lombard Theological School Archives and Special Collections is to make accessible to researchers the rich history of Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism. However, our responsibility to create an open and accessible archive is balanced by a responsibility to protect the privacy of institutions and individuals. While we make every effort to make all of our materials fully accessible, we do restrict access to some archival materials.
Materials Generated by Meadville Lombard
All restrictions (excluding Religion Professional Misconduct, Legal, Medical, and Student) are subject to modification as needed on a collection by collection basis.
Externally Generated Materials
All other restrictions will be determined in coordination with collection donors and the Meadville Lombard Archives.
How to Request Access to Restricted Documents
A different process is required for patrons to access restricted materials relating to ministerial misconduct. A committee of the Provost, a member of the faculty, Director of the Library and the archivist will consider all requests to access to materials related to religious professional misconduct. All researchers will be required to write statement explaining their need to access these materials. If access is granted, copies will be made of materials with the survivors' names and other identifying characteristics redacted. The unredacted, original copies will be stored separately. If a patron desires to access the original, unredacted materials, there must be a specific and legitimate need to have access to survivors' names.
How can I use the archive?
Please contact our archivist about getting access to materials from the Meadville Lombard Archives and Special Collections. In most cases, materials are only available for use on campus and in our reading room. Because some of our materials are stored off-site, please contact the archivist at least two weeks before you need to use the materials.
In some cases, and within reason, we can scan selected material at your request and send you a high-quality scan of the item(s) you need.
For a complete inventory of our of collections, browse here.
We have a growing collection of digitized materials that can be accessed here.
For researchers traveling to Chicago to access our archives, we have special room rates at hotels near Meadville Lombard that can be found here.Special Collections
Sankofa Special Collection
MacLean RE Special Collection
Humanist Special Collection
Cuentos Latinx Special Collection
Heresies Women's Special Collection
Mūlāni Global U/U Special Collection
Help safeguard UU history: Buy a Box!
High quality archival boxes preserve and protect fragile documents.
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