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Lorraine Allen ... Archivist Extraordinaire

by Peggy Montgomery.

“I loved it all!” Lorraine Allen says of her 30 years of devoted work to organize the archives of the Unitarian Church of All Souls in Manhattan. And as of 2016, the results of her energy and talent, “The Lorraine Allen Collection of All Souls Archives” have been transferred to temperature and humidity controlled facilities at Meadville-Lombard Divinity School. In digital form they are now available to the world at Professional archivist John Leeker, who helped with the transfer, described the collection as “the most impressive he had seen in a congregation.”

Part of the archives have stayed behind at All Souls, including books by members of the congregation, Marietta Moskin, Dan Cryer, and Victor Fidel, books about UUism by All Souls Ministers, and artifacts such as Rev. Dr. Walter Donald Kring’s stained glass.

Lorraine was born in upstate New York, came to New York City in 1955, and worked as a bookkeeper in a variety of offices. She married in 1964. Today, she and her son live in the same building on the Upper West Side.

Lorraine came to All Souls searching for a church school for her son Mark and joined in 1979. She quickly became involved in the congregation. She taught in the Church School, joined the Historical Society, served on the Board of Trustees, and was Secretary, Vice-President, and President of the Board of Deacons. Over the years, she was often an All Souls Delegate to General Assembly.

Her focus on the Archives grew out of her interest in learning about All Souls’ history, including the congregation’s participation in the Civil War and important results thereof, such as Rev. Henry Whitney Bellows, whose work led to the U.S. Sanitary Commission, which ultimately became the Red Cross.

Through the Historical Society, she worked on the Archives for many years with other dedicated women leaders, 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 6th Floor, unless it was too hot or too cold, which then kept them in the Ware Room, until Annie Goryki found them a new system of air or heat. Lorraine is grateful to all the volunteers over the years, especially Jane Alwais.

Many members asked for information about All Souls, and Lorraine always did her best to find it. Dan Cryer and Victor Fidel needed her help for their books, as did Bill Bechman when he was designing place mats featuring All Souls history. Peggy Montgomery spent hours going through the files on the UU-United Nations Office, learning how essential Dr. Kring was to the life of that organization. And a Union Seminary student sought information for a paper he was writing on how All Souls changed our Bond of Union.

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.

We love Lorraine for her special gift to our church and to our denomination.

~ Peggy Montgomery

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