Because of the extensive research by and publications of Frederick Lewis Weiss for the Society of the Descendants of the Colonial Clergy, brief biographical information about clergy ordained in the original 13 colonies prior to July 4, 1776, is easily available.
See sample entries.
- The Colonial Churches and the Colonial Clergy of the Middle and Southern Colonies, 1607-1776 (1938) [Ref. BR520.W38]
- The Colonial Clergy and the Colonial Churches of New England (1936). [Ref. BR 520.W4]
- The Colonial Clergy of Maryland, Delaware, and Georgia (1950). [Ref. BR520.W43]
- The Colonial Clergy of the Middle Colonies, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, 1628-1776 (1978). [Ref. BR520.W45 1978]
- The Colonial Clergy of Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina (1955). [Ref. BR520.W42]
Those clergy who were graduates of Harvard College have biographical sketches in the series Sibley's Harvard Graduates (latest volume through 1774) [Ref. LD2139.S5], and clergy who were graduates of Yale College have biographical sketches in the series Yale Biographies and Annals (last volume through 1815) [Ref. LD6323.D5].
Some of these clergy also have printed biographies and/or autobiographies. Search HOLLIS for books about them. If you are not a Harvard library patron, search your own catalog for these works about them. If the book is not available locally, consider an interlibrary loan request.
For more information, contact a research librarian.
Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist Clergy
Biographical information on Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist clergy and laypeople may be found on the following websites:
- Dictionary of Unitarian and Universalist Biography
- Unitarian Univeralist Women's Heritage Society
- Notable American Unitarians
In addition to these websites and denominational history sources, there are a number of standard reference works listed in the library's research guide The Unitarian Universalist Tradition: A Basic Research and Reading List that may contain information.
While most of the material that follows deals with North American clergy, there are other sources we can consult about clergy throughout the world. For more information, contact a research librarian.
Many of these clergy have entries in the important reference sources for American Biography.
Some of these ministers also have printed biographies and/or autobiographies. Search HOLLIS for books about them. If you are not a Harvard library patron, search your own catalog for these works about them. If the book is not available locally, consider an interlibrary loan request.
Obituary files: The library has card files that give citations for obituaries printed in denominational publications. The Universalist file is a rich resource with citations to the Universalist Register, the Leader, General Convention Minutes, etc. The Unitarian file is far from complete. Contact a research librarian for information about obituaries. Reference staff may be able to search for obituaries that are not indexed in this file, if the exact death date is known.
Manuscripts and Archives files: The library has several collections of files on clergy. The first two listed here are general collections with at least one folder for the person named. The contents of these folders vary greatly; some include biographical information, sermons, correspondence, photographs, etc., while others may contain a single newspaper clipping. Some individuals have folders in both collections.
- Collection bMS 900 was started by the Universalist Historical Society Library. It was chiefly a collection of files for deceased Universalist ministers, but in time included living ministers and, after the 1961 merger with the Unitarians, it included Unitarian ministers; some lay leaders are also represented.
- Collection bMS 1446 began as a personnel file for the American Unitarian Association and has personnel and/or informational files concerning Unitarian Universalist ministers who are either deceased or who have left the Unitarian Universalist denomination. The collection also includes some files for individuals who were not ordained but who were important to the Unitarian Universalist movement.
- Personal papers: This is a list of the library's collections of clergy and other persons. The contents may include sermons, correspondence, writings, etc. Often "biographical files" are found near the end of large collections.
- Universalist Publishing House Records: Boxes 26-30 of Collection bMS 369 include a large number of photographs of individuals and groups.
- Office of Public Information, Unitarian Universalist Association, Records, Biographical files, 1961-1975: Collection bMS 1257 has biographical information and photographs of well-known Unitarian Universalists and other public figures; there is very little "original" material in this collection.
For information about these files, contact Special Collections.
Directories and Yearbooks: When no information is available through these sources listed above, a search of the directories and yearbooks may be necessary. The amount and nature of the information these publications contain varies. There is no alphabetical list of Unitarian clergy before 1854 and none of Universalist clergy before 1872, so ministers must be identified by their state of residence.
- Unitarian Annual Register(1846-1847)
- Unitarian Congregational Register(1848-1855)
- Year-book of the Unitarian Congregational Churches(1856-1899)
- Unitarian Year Book(1900-1943/44)
- Unitarian Yearbook and Annual Report (1945/1946-1960/1961)
- Universalist Register(1836-1840)
- Universalist Companion(1841-1863)
- Universalist Register(1864-1867)
- Universalist Register and Almanac(1868-1873)
- Universalist Register(1874-1920)
- Universalist Year Book(1922-1934; 1936)
- Universalist Biennial Reports and Directory(1937/38-1939/40)
- Directory, Universalist Churches and Ministers(1943/44)
- Universalist Directory(1948; 1950; 1951/52-1952/53)
- Directory of Universalist Churches and Ministers(1953/54-1955/56)
- Universalist Directory(1956/57)
- Universalist Directory and Handbook (1959/60)
In addition to paper copies in the "S.C.R." collection, these are available on microfilm: Unitarian titles on Mflm. Period. 2028; and Universalist titles on Mflm. Period. 4601 and, beginning with 1937/38, Mflm. Unit. 50. If you are not able to consult these resources locally, consider an interlibrary loan request or contact a research librarian.