Conrad Wright Lecture

About the Conrad Wright Lecture, Sponsored by UUHHS

The Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society (UUHHS) has been sponsoring a spring lecture on UU History for many years, but endowing this endeavor with the name of renowned UU scholar The Conrad Wright is a recent development.

The first annual Conrad Wright lecture was given in 2008 by J.D. Bowers, who had published Joseph Priestley and English Unitariaism in America, an effort to reemphasize the British role in the early development of Unitarianism in the United States. Since its founding in 1901, the Unitarian Historical Society (UHS) had sponsored an annual lecture, which coincided with the May Meetings of the American Unitarian Association. The UHS would hold their annual meeting at this time, and the lecture, which was given at the meeting, was usually published as part of the Proceedings of the Unitarian Historical Society.

After consolidation with the Universalists, an annual lecture or workshop was given at the General Assembly. During the 1960’s and 1970’s when Conrad Wright was teaching at Harvard Divinity School, he usually hosted a spring seminar in which some of the latest scholarly research was presented and discussed at a small gathering in Andover Hall. This event was independent of GA presentations, and eventually evolved into an annual spring lecture usually held at the First Parish of Cambridge, MA, Conrad’s home church.

Over the years lecturers included Charles Capper, speaking on Margaret Fuller, and Megan Marshall, speaking about her Peabody sisters book. In recent years the UUHHS has tried to schedule the spring lecture at venues all over the country, especially seminaries. Venturing beyond Cambridge began in 2011 when Glenna Matthews spoke on Thomas Starr King at the Starr King School, followed by John Matteson speaking on Margaret Fuller at Andover Newton in 2012, Kristin Gwinn-Becker, at Meadville Lombard on Emily Greene Balch in 2013, and finally Chris Cameron at Harvard Divinity School on “Unitarians, Universalists and Slavery” in 2014.

This year we are pleased to present Megan Marshall, the author of a Pulitzer Prize winning biography on Margaret Fuller at the new Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters at 24 Farnsworth Street, Boston.