“A New Collection of Primary Sources for Unitarian Universalist History”

Research Update for Collegium 2014

Dan McKanan

Emerson Senior Lecturer

Harvard Divinity School

At Collegium 2011 we held a brainstorming session on the possibility of creating a new collection of primary sources for Unitarian Universalist history. In the fifty years since consolidation, no one has attempted a comprehensive anthology for Unitarianism, Universalism, and Unitarian Universalism, though there have been excellent collections on such topics as Transcendentalism and UU women’s history. Our goal is to produce a volume that will be used in every graduate course in UU history, purchased by every UU minister for a generation, and included in the libraries of at least half of our congregations. We anticipate that this volume will be about five hundred pages long and arranged chronologically, with brief scholarly introductions for each item.

This session will update Collegium members on the progress that we have made toward this goal, with the hope that at Collegium 2017 (or perhaps 2016!) we will hold a similar event celebrating the publication of the volume. Dozens of people have helped us brainstorm items for inclusion over the past three years. Our core editorial team of Dan McKanan, Barbara Coeyman, Mark Harris, Nicole Kirk, Emily Mace, Rosemary Bray McNatt, Peter Hughes, and Susan Ritchie has agreed on a list of more than 160 selections—though there is still time to point out glaring omissions! Currently, we are in the process of preparing introductions for each selection, and we may still need a few volunteers for this task. More generally, we will describe the process, invite feedback, and facilitate a general conversation about how this resource might be used to strengthen the teaching and learning of Unitarian Universalist history.


Dan McKanan holds the Emerson chair at Harvard Divinity School, where he has taught since 2008. He is the author of Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition and three other books on religion and social change in the United States. Currently he is researching the ways anthroposophy and other esoteric spiritualities can inspire work for economic cooperation and ecological harmony. He lives in Somerville, Massachusetts, with his spouse Tammy and daughter Oriana, and is a proud member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Medford, Massachusetts.