The Archives Committee collects, preserves, and makes available those materials we’ve been able to obtain relating to the Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading from its inception as the Third Congregational Society of Reading (Unitarian) in 1827. We welcome contributions to the archives, invite questions about UUCR history, and encourage the use of the collection.
We are Anne Mark, Bill Grace, Bob Green, and Lynne Champion. We meet the first and third Tuesdays of the month at 1:30 p.m. upstairs in the Sawyer house, where the archives are located. Any given Tuesday might find the group sorting, filing, and/or photocopying materials; discussing matters related to the archives (e.g., transferring VHS tapes of church services to digital format or re-organizing the files); researching questions about church history; or organizing a display to commemorate an event or celebrate a milestone.
Our main collection currently consists of 120 gray storage boxes with titles like Newsletters, Orders of Service, Annual Reports, Financials, Directories, Ministers, Liberal Ladies, Religious Education, and Sermons. (Inventory available as a spreadsheet.)
We also have file cabinets filled with VHS tapes, notebooks from the Kris Kringle Fair, photos and slides, previous hymnals, and supplies. Plastic tubs contain some of our artifacts—items like tea and communion sets. Among the archive’s other holdings are blueprints of the church building, a box of current photo CDs, the church’s World War II Honor Roll, and a transcript of Emily Ruggles’s diary.
The Archives Committee had long wanted a case to both display some of our interesting artifacts and to let the congregation know that the UUCR, too, has treasures. Construction of the atrium and Fellowship Hall included a coat rack with a blank end-wall on which to build a display case and shelves. We change the display occasionally.
In 2012-13, we asked Internet Archive, based at the Boston Public Library, to scan 25 of our oldest and most precious documents. They were handwritten record books: minutes of annual and trustees’ meetings, annual meeting notes from organizations central to our church’s history, and so on, dating from about 1840 to about 1930. Our goal was to both preserve the information in the books and preserve the physical books themselves. After scanning, the documents were donated to the Andover-Harvard Theological Library. Please go to www.archive.org and search for Unitarian Universalist Church of Reading to see them.