About the Historical Society
All Souls Historical Society (ASHS) was founded in 1980 to stimulate research into the history of the church and its members, and to collect and preserve records and artifacts related to that history.
We welcome new members. If you are interested in becoming a member, please go to our Dues and Donations page for instructions, or complete this Membership Form (PDF) and send it to us along with your check.
The membership dues are:
$20 annually for an individual,
$40 annually for a family,
$100 for a lifetime membership.
Membership requires no special commitments - you can be involved as much or a little as you like.
Email us at email@example.com if you have any questions.
We also participate in Connext, All Souls' online social platform, so you can reach us there.
President: Lois Coleman
Vice-President: Dan O'Neill
Treasurer (interim): Christine Goodwin
Secretary: Bill Bechman
Arts and Artifacts: Jim Moskin
Christina Bellamy recently retired after six years as the President of the Historical Society. She led us through the period of the transfer of our archives to Meadville-Lombard Seminary Library in 2017, the Bicentennial in 2019, and the construction in the church which meant that our art and artifacts has had to be kept track of, moved around and stored. She has also been the main writer and editor of the Historical Society’s newsletter.
Christina has been active in many roles at All Souls and has been a leader in many areas of congregational life. She taught in the Religious Education program for 18 years, she was on the Board of Trustees and served as President of the Congregation in 1993, and she is a Deacon too.
Other past presidents of the Historical Society have included Lorraine Allen, Marietta Moskin and Mary-Ella Holst.
The late Angie Utt, one of the early presidents, described the Society’s founding, in a speech at General Assembly in 1983, as an outgrowth of the Bellows Lectures, which began in 1977. She noted that the church has a long and very interesting history, having been an integral part of New York City since it began in 1819. She also credited the Rev. Dr. Walter Donald Kring with keeping the church’s history alive through his three books.
Caring for our Historic Art and Artifacts
The Historical Society has been working on making an exhaustive list of all the church's historic paintings, artwork and other artifacts such as portraits of past ministers, a silver tea set donated by the Women’s Alliance, and valuable pieces of furniture, for insurance purposes and so that we could keep track of them during the renovations.
Partnering with the Bicentennial Committee, and as part of the Bicentennial Celebration, the ASHS recently funded the restoration of the 1821 clock that has hung in each of the church’s four buildings. It was originally a gift of George Bond of Boston, a benefactor of the church since its founding. (We found an envelope in the archives containing two tin clock hands, and identified them as the 1821 clock’s original hands by looking at photos in Dr. Kring’s first book.) It has been deemed too hazardous to return the clock to Reidy Friendship Hall, where it hung for many years, so it will be placed in the Forest Church Gallery when the church renovation is done.
The 1821 clock
The Channing Lectern
We also purchased the Channing Lectern for the church. The antique mahogany piece, with a hand-carved portrait of William Ellery Channing, was commissioned for the Unitarian Universalist Church in Plainview, New Jersey (where the Rev. Dr. Tracy Sprowls was minister). It became available when the Plainfield church closed in 2018. It will be used on future historical occasions at All Souls. At the 2019 Annual Meeting, we presented the Channing Lectern to the congregation.
The Historical Society also restored the stained-glass altarpiece created by Dr. Kring in the 1970s. It stood on the altar in the chancel for several years before Sue Fuller's string sculpture was installed at the front of the sanctuary. Dr. Kring designed his altarpiece with a definite philosophy of comparative religion in mind, and included the symbols of ten major world religions.
The lightbox on the altar in the Chapel
The All Souls Archives
Maintaining the All Souls archives has been a significant part of the Historical Society's responsibility. They were kept organized for many years by our archivist, Lorraine Allen, until 2017, when they were moved to the Wiggin Library at Meadville Lombard Theological School. They have been digitized and made available online for researchers through the JSTOR database at jstor.org/site/meadville/all-souls. For more information about the All Souls archives, see The Archives Project.