The Archives Project
The Archives Project is in charge of collecting the records, memories, stories and artifacts
of the All Souls community, and preserving them for posterity.
The records for 1819 to 2017 have been sent to the library of
Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago to be digitized, and are available online at
The co-coordinators of the project are Bill Bechman and Lois Coleman.
Would you like to work with us to preserve All Souls history?
We are seeking volunteers to work with us on collecting and recording church records and materials from congregation members and groups, posting themed materials on our website, checking sources, writing summaries, and researching background materials. Please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in finding a new volunteer opportunity at church, and would like to work with us and learn more about All Souls' history!
Specifically, we need help with:
organizing first-person accounts and other materials about experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, to create an online record on this website of the transformed manner in which the congregation gathers online;
organizing materials about the social justice and anti-racism work of the congregation;
helping to create and maintain this website, which is on the Wix platform;
helping to record and analyze church records and materials from congregational groups, checking sources, writing summaries and researching background materials.
Most of the work is done online, although when the church building is open again, there will be hands-on work to do, organizing the physical papers, books and artifacts at All Souls.
Transferring the Archives to Meadville Lombard Theological School
In 2016, Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago, the largest UU seminary in the U.S., launched a project to store and digitize historical records from UU churches to make them more accessible to their own members as well as to outside researchers.
More than 150 boxes of files from All Souls were sent to Meadville in 2017, and have been made available online - collections.carli.illinois.edu/digital/collection/mls_allsouls. The records have been added to JSTOR, a digital database of academic journals, books and archival materials, and can be searched at jstor.org/site/meadville/all-souls.
The digitized files include the minutes of the All Souls Board of Trustees meetings from 1819 through 1970; Annual Meeting minutes from 1922 to 1990; editions of the Quarterly Review from 1985 to 2011; copies of the Monthly Bulletin from 2010 to 2014; and a variety of programs, pamphlets, flyers and correspondence.
The All Souls Archives Project group will continue to send our materials to Meadville for preservation and digitization.
Handwritten notes from the minutes of the first meeting of the society in 1819 (click image to access a PDF version)
Collection Process for the All Souls Archives at Meadville Lombard
Notes by Bill Bechman after discussion with John Leeker, Director of Library and Archives, Meadville Lombard Theological School, May 2020. Download here (PDF).
Bill Bechman, co-coordinator of the Archives Project, looking at historic All Souls documents in the library at Meadville Lombard with John Leeker, the Archivist
Notes on the Archives at All Souls
by Eileen Macholl, retired Executive Director of All Souls
Eileen left us these notes and recommendations upon her retirement from All Souls. Download here (PDF).
Lorraine Allen, All Souls Archivist Extraordinaire
Lorraine Allen joined All Souls in 1979 and was involved in many activities, including the All Souls Historical Society, where she served as president for ten years. Her interest in the church’s history led her to the church archives on the sixth floor of Wiggin House where, in a windowless room with neither heat nor air-conditioning, decades’ worth of All Souls Board of Trustees minutes, Quarterly Reviews, Monthly Bulletins, photos, floor plans, architectural drawings, financial records, marriages files, books, paintings, VHS tapes and other miscellaneous treasures were kept. She set about putting it all in order, a project that lasted 30 years.
Many other dedicated women leaders of our congregation worked with Lorraine to preserve our history, including Angie Utt, Marietta Moskin, and Betty Clancy. Every Tuesday, all year, they participated in an exercise program, followed by lunch, and then headed upstairs to the sixth floor storage room to get to work organizing the archival materials.
In 2017, "The Lorraine Allen Collection of All Souls Archives" the results of her energy and talent, were transferred to temperature and humidity controlled facilities at Meadville Lombard Theological School. Every box of All Souls archival materials at Meadville has a label on it reading “In Honor of Lorraine Allen.” On Anniversary Sunday 2017, during the Deacons Luncheon, the Historical Society presented a unique award to Lorraine to honor her 30 years of dedicated work. Lorraine died in January 2020.
Christina Bellamy and Jim Moskin presenting the Historical Society
award to Lorraine Allen (center) to honor her many years of service to All Souls, 2017.