New Organization

The Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society had merged with a network of scholars in a variety of disciplines known as Collegium and is now the UU Studies Network.  Visit our new website to learn more.

Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society

The mission of the Society is to strengthen a community dedicated to the disciplined study of liberal religious history, and to advance education, research, and dissemination of our Unitarian and Universalist heritage within and beyond the Unitarian Universalist Association.

We seek to increase awareness of our traditions in all their diverse experiences and expressions of which region, race, class, gender, and generation are a part.  To this end we promote the collection and preservation of historical materials, support research by academic and independent scholars, including those in Unitarian Universalist theological schools, disseminate the fruits of that scholarship through various media including the Society’s journal, sponsor events for a broad public, and engage Unitarian Universalist congregations in historical research and celebration of our heritage.

The UUHHS Supports

  • Annual publication of The Journal of Unitarian Universalist History
  • Publication of the UUHHS Newsletter
  • Occasional lectures in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and elsewhere
  • Workshops and paper presentations at the annual Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly
  • The website of the UUHHS: uuhhs.org
  • The UUHHS electronic discussion list: formerly: uuhs-chat uua.org, now uuhhs.org/forums
  • The Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography: uudb.org
  • How-to information for congregational archivists
  • UUHHS Republication Project, bringing crucial texts such as Charles Lyttle’s Freedom Moves West and Roland Bainton’s Hunted Heretic back into print.
  • Networking with the Universalist Heritage Foundation, and the Unitarian Universalist Religious Education History Group.

Important projects sponsored by the UUHHS:

  • During 2012 we will be working to unify, connect, and cross-link our various UU history websites.
  • Conrad Wright: Walking Together: Polity and Participation in Unitarian Universalist Churches (published in 1989).
  • Russell Miller: The Larger Hope (two volume history of American Universalism published in 1979 and 1985).
  • Catherine F. Hitchings: Universalist and Unitarian Women Ministers (published in 1975 and 1985).
  • Annual workshops and lectures at General Assembly on topics such as “Creating Congregational Histories,””Hosea Ballou’s Treatise at 200,””Thomas Starr King’s Writings on Nature,” and”Self and Society in American Transcendentalism” (Dr. Philip Gura, 2008).
  • Sponsored lectures such as Dean Grodzins (on Theodore Parker), Megan Marshall (on Elizabeth Palmer Peabody), and Charles Capper (on Margaret Fuller). Newly created Youth History Prize to be awarded in 2009

Benefits of Membership in UUHHS     Join Us

We welcome as members all who are interested in the history of liberal religion. Members receive the Newsletter, the Journal, and invitations to our lectures and meetings. The Journal has significantly contributed to the scholarship of liberal religion with its translation and publishing of George Huntston Williams ‘The Polish Brethren (1976) and Conrad Wright’s Bibliography of Unitarian Universalist History (2001).

Members become partners in supporting lectures, research, and our rapidly increasing presence on the Web, and are entitled to vote at the annual meeting.

Download the UUHHS brochure

Form more information visit our Media page.

An Abbreviated History of the UUHHS

universalist general convention logo-TN Universalist Historical Society (founded 1834) Unitarian Historical Unitarian Historical Society (founded 1901) Unitarian Universalist Historical Society Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (merged 1978)

In June, 2012 the Unitarian Universalist Historical Society (UUHS) and the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society (UUWHS) consolidated to form the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society. The UUHS had been formed in 1978 by the merger of the existing Unitarian and Universalist historical societies. The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society (UUWHS) had first organized in 1988.

The library of the Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138 continues as a repository for historical documents relating to both Universalist and Unitarian history.

Universalist Historical Society • 1834 to 1978

The following is an account of the organizational meeting of the Universalist Historical Society.  Adapted from a news article published in the October 18, 1834, Star and Universalist.

A number of brethren met according to appointment on Thursday afternoon, Sept. 18th, 1834, and called Br. Thomas Whittemore to the Chair, and appointed Br. T. J. Sawyer, Secretary.

After having heard stated the objects of the proposed association, it was unanimously resolved, That a Universalist Historical Society be now organized.

It was moved that a Committee of three be appointed to draft a constitution for said society, and present the same this evening; and that Brs. W. S. Balch, A.C. Thomas, and T. J. Sawyer be that Committee.

Adjourned to meet immediately after the public services of the evening.

Met according to adjournment, when the following Constitution was reported and adopted.

  • Art. I. This Association shall be known as the Universalist Historical Society.
  • Art. II. The objects of this Society shall be to collect and preserve facts pertaining to the history and condition of the doctrine of Universalism; together with books and papers having reference to the same subject.
  • Art. III. Officers
  • Art. IV. Officer’s duties,
  • Art. V. Meetings
  • Art. VI. Annual election of officers
  • Art. VII Membership requirements
  • Art. VIII. Member’s duties
  • Art. IX. Amendments

The following officers for the ensuing year were then duly elected, viz.

  • Hosea Ballou, 2nd, President.
  • Pitt Morse, Vice President.
  • Thomas J. Sawyer, Secretary.
  • Thomas Whittemore, Treasurer.
  • And 20 Corresponding Secretaries.

Unitarian Historical Society • 1901 to 1978

In 1900, Samuel Atkins Eliot, the secretary of the American Unitarian Association called for the organization of a Unitarian Historical Society:

“It is obviously desirable that there should be at the National Headquarters complete files of all the Unitarian periodicals, sets of the works of all Unitarian scholars, histories and pictures of Unitarian churches, and biographies and portraits of Unitarian leaders. All members of the Association are invited to add to the present collection and to make the library a useful department of the Association’s activity.”

“The Secretary ventures to hope that the day is not far distant when there may be organized, in connection with the Association, a Unitarian Historical Society, which shall have special charge of collecting memorabilia, books, and pictures.”

The Unitarian Historical Society was founded at a meeting in Channing Hall at Unitarian headquarters in Boston on May 23, 1901.


Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society • 1988 to 2012

The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Heritage Society was founded in 1988 (as the Women’s History Publication Project) by one woman with a vision and a small group of supportive colleagues with funding from the Unitarian Universalist Association and private donations.

The Society sought to recover and preserve the stories of UU women’s lives so that future generations could be inspired by their wisdom and courage, celebrating the valuable gifts we have received from our Universalist and Unitarian foremothers.

In June, 2012 the UUHS and the UUWHS consolidated into the Unitarian Universalist History and Heritage Society.