Current Archives/Historical Preservation Activities


The purpose of this document is to maintain an ongoing digital representation and record via the Web of current efforts to preserve the history of MMUUS and maintain a corresponding archival collection. The associated documents are presented in chronological order.

                                                                                                Roger Hiemstra, MMUUS Archivist


Document 1


To Barbara Mihalas, President, and Members of the Board of Trustees, MMUUS


Archival/Historical Preservation Needs: May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society


From Roger Hiemstra, January 23, 2005




Over a year ago Gary Droege and I had a conversation about my assuming responsibilities as the church archivist. I had directed a large project at Syracuse University related to archival preservation nearly two decades ago and maintain an interest in archives and history. I also created the Sam May material (with the help of others) and link on our web page ( so he knew of that involvement. Thus, I accepted the role.

            The purpose of this report is to present background information, provide information on the current status of our archival and historical preservation needs, and provide several future recommendations.




As you may know, former MMUUS member, Jean Hoefer, who had a long involvement with the church, undertook activities over a decade ago related to archival and historical preservation. There no doubt have been previous related efforts, but I am unaware of them at this point.

            Jean coordinated the involvement of Dr. Suzanne Etherington, a Certified Archivist, in carrying out an initial survey of the church’s existing archives and making recommendations for our future handling of such materials. Her subsequent report entitled, “Report on Phase One of the May Memorial Unitarian Society Archival Records Management Project,” is dated October 7, 1994. A copy is attached (Appendix A). I don’t know if there were any reports written related to a second phase.

            In this report Dr. Etherington, based on a site visit and most likely conversations with Jean and others, made observations about our archives and a number of recommendations. She makes two observations with implications for us that stood out to me:

·        The historical records and documents currently housed in the basement, the multi-use room on the first floor, and in the loft area are at risk (italics added by me). The storage conditions are well below archival standards (italics added by me) both in terms of micro-climate and storage containers. (p. 12)

·        . . . considerable funding as well as volunteer labor (italicized words added by me) for collection management and preservation would be required, along with secure and appropriate space for storage and research use. (p. 12)


In March, 1995, Jean submitted a copy of the above report to Dr. Mark Weimer, Special Collections head, Syracuse University Library (her cover letter is attached to the report noted above). She, in conjunction with June Card and perhaps others, had subsequent conversations with various library officials. This resulted in an official agreement between MMUUS and the SU Library to organize, preserve, and make accessible to future generations our archives. A copy of this agreement (Appendix B) and Jean’s June 28, 2002, letter to Gary reminding him of the arrangements (Appendix C) are attached. This agreement lays out several specific conditions. Perhaps the most important one is that the agreement shall be reviewed by both parties every five years beginning in 2000. Thus, it is important that something related to this agreement be done in 2005.

            Following this, Jean, June, and perhaps others began a process of selecting materials for preservation. Two batches of materials were subsequently deposited with the SU Library in July of 1995 and July of 1998. Copies of the listings of these materials obtained from the SU library are also attached (Appendix D). Jean notes in her letter to Gary that she remembers they “left off somewhere in the middle of John Fuller’s ministry” and that June Card would be willing to show someone else what they had done so the work can be continued. [Note: It was later discovered that June finished work on the Fuller ministry and boxes related to the Zoerheide and Fuller ministries are stored in the basement. They need preservation work before they can be submitted to Syracuse University.]


My Involvement to Date


The three people associated with archives that I knew and worked with at SU nearly two decades ago (Mark Weimer, Carolyn Davis, and Terry Keenan) have all retired or ended their involvement with the Archives. However, I recently met with Carolyn Davis’ replacement, Nicolette Schneider (Reference and Access Services Library, Special Collections Research Center; 443-9762; I have not examined the actual MMUUS collections as they are kept in Syracuse University’s Hawkins Preservation Building. A 48-hour notice is required for those wishing to peruse the materials at the Special Collections Center (6th Floor, SU Bird Library), the only location they can be seen. A sheet entitled “Use of Special Collections is governed by the following regulations” is attached (Appendix F). Nicolette did note that any future submission of archival materials would need to be cleared through the Special Collections Research Center Director (Christian Dupont, 443-9759; or the Center’s Curator of Manuscripts and Archives (Kathleen Manwaring, 443-9758;

            I also spent about 30 minutes in the church basement furnace room where the bulk of our archival records are kept. There are 7 file cabinets (each having 4 drawers), 6 boxes, and 3 metal file drawers where archival or historically important materials may be kept (some drawers are locked and others are difficult to access). Some drawers are marked as “Eras” or with historical material. Others contain such files as old records of church groups, newsletters, minister’s materials, RE materials, and archival project materials, any of which may contain historically important information. A rough guestimation is that there exists 6-10 linear feet of files and other material, perhaps more, that would need to be perused to determine if they have historical or archival significance.

            The Etherington report notes that material of potential archival importance also exists in the loft and in the Memorial Room. In a recent conversation with Alexa Carter, she reported seeing at least 4 albums in the Memorial Room that contain photographs and other potentially important information that are not being carefully preserved. Jean Hoefer and Irene Baros-Johnson also discovered that various archival materials related to MMUUS and past ministers are located in the Onondaga Historical Society, UUA Library, and Harvard Library. There may be additional material in such libraries and in other libraries that we might like to access or electronically link to if there is known digital storage of useful information. For example, the Samuel J. May Anti-Slavery collection exists at the Cornell Library (; the University of Michigan contains digital copies of two books on Sam May (see the Sam May web page); the SU library houses the Lilian Reiner papers.

            Finally, in that recent conversation with Alexa, who is a member of the New York Board of Universalists, she indicated that the group has monies available for training people who are interested in archival and historical preservations of church materials. Former Minister of Religious Education Liz Strong has been involved in encouraging such training. There are no doubt other MMUUS members with interest and expertise in archival preservation who would be likely candidates for such training and subsequent work, but I am willing to continue my involvement if that would be of value.


Several Recommendations


Based on the information shown above, my thinking about the topic to date, and the phone conversation with Alexa, I offer the following recommendations:

  1. Continue sorting and analyzing the records in the basement storage sites (and in other church locations) to determine their historical value (enlist June Card to show whomever does this where she and Jean Hoefer ended their efforts).
  2. Work with SU Library officials to submit more materials to their archives, if that is possible.
  3. Do a better job of preserving materials of value that remain with the church (acid free containers, adhering to some of the recommendations in the Etherington report, etc.).
  4. Digitize the most important material that is not a candidate for the SU collections (scanning, photocopying, digital photography, etc.), store it electronically in one or more locations, and provide links on the MMUUS web page if appropriate.
  5. Determine what other material of historical importance exists in locations other than MMUUS and the SU archives (Onondaga County Historical Society, UUA Library, Harvard Library, Cornell Library, etc.)
  6. Encourage church members (and others) to carry out research related to MMUUS’ long involvement in the Syracuse community and to author subsequent scholarly papers.
  7. Encourage the authorship of short stories, sermons, or other pieces related to our history and make them available to interested people and/or as materials published in our newsletter and web page (perhaps members of our two writing groups could be solicited for their involvement in such efforts). See The Just Demands of the Other by Irene Baros-Johnson; MMUUS History and Legend, a sermon by Liz Strong; and the History of Social Action at MMUUS available as links in the Sam May section or history section on our web page as examples.
  8. Encourage the authorship of a history of MMUUS that could be presented to new members and other interested people (this could be a manuscript that builds on the work by Jean Hoefer and Irene Baros-Johnson, 1988. May No One Be A Stranger. Syracuse, New York: May Memorial Unitarian Society).
  9. Interview many of our older members (e.g., Joyce Ball, Betsy Fuller, Charlie Jorgensen, and Hank Manwell) and obtain an oral history of their involvement with MMUUS.
  10. Determine the financial and human resource requirements for carrying out these and other recommendations that will be made.


Appendix A

Suzanne Etherington Report

Appendix B

MMUUS-Syracuse University Agreement

Appendix C

Jean Hoefer 2002 Letter


Appendix D


Document 2


Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using the MMUUS Archives


Executive Summary


Roger Hiemstra, Church Archivist

November 7, 2005


            MMUUS members have preserved much of the church’s history for the past 170 years. In addition, Samuel May’s prestige as a national religious figure has meant that considerable information about him has been preserved, too, in the form of books, articles, research papers, and even his own writings. Some of the corresponding archival material is now stored at the Syracuse University Arents Library and some of it is still stored in our church building.

            Unfortunately, much of the material residing at MMUUS is deteriorating for various reasons. To prevent further deterioration, we must send more of it to SU and do a better job of preserving what remains here. If the history of the church is to serve as resource for current and future generations to study, we also must put better procedures into place for perpetuating as well as preserving our archives.

In that regard, I make the following recommendations and request appropriate board action (see the full report for more detail on these recommendations):

  1. Follow preservation suggestions made about our archives in 1994 by a certified archivist.
  2. Transmit additional records to Syracuse University as soon as possible.
  3. Encourage use of the archives by scholars and people interested in MMUUS history.
  4. Advertise our archival information on the MMUUS web page .
  5. Enhance the Samuel May link on the MMUUS web page.
  6. Rededicate the Samuel J. May plaque rediscovered this past summer as soon as possible.
  7. Interview current and past long-term church members to capture more of our past history.
  8. Seek information from current members and past leaders on our recent history.
  9. Develop scrap books of photographs, newspaper articles, and church activity mementos.
  10. Locate all available photographs of church activities and associated people.
  11. Develop grant proposals to seek money to assist us with our various archival activities.
  12. Seek cooperative ventures on archival activities with other UU churches in the area.


Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using the MMUUS Archives


Roger Hiemstra, Church Archivist

November 7, 2005


Background Information


            May Memorial members have been interested in preserving knowledge about our church through the creation of written histories and the compilation of official archives for much of our nearly 170 years. Various kinds of records have been kept since 1838 regarding our finances, Board of Trustee meetings, and various other church activities. A variety of sermons have been maintained since at least 1858. Because of his national prestige, various books, articles, and research papers were published about Sam May, some of which we have in our archives. The first written church history may have been completed around 1917. A centennial history of May Memorial was developed in 1938. Other church histories were created periodically after that date, with the most notable being May No One Be A Stranger written by Jean M. Hoefer and Irene Baros-Johnson and published by the church in 1988.

            The first official archival activities may have been the work of Jean I. Simpson, “Historian for the Archives,” and Doris McLennan, “Historian for the Scrapbooks.” In 1972 they organized our various records and other material into eras by ministerial time periods, stored most of them in filing cabinets located in our furnace room, and produced a notebook detailing what they had stored. Then in 1994 Jean Hoefer arranged for Dr. Suzanne Etherington, a Certified Archivist, to carry out an initial survey of the archives and make recommendations for future preservation activities. Dr. Etherington’s October 7, 1994, report (see Appendix A-1) noted the precarious nature of our archives due to inadequate storage facilities (old filing cabinets, boxes, and chest drawers), material stored in at least three locations, a lack of acid free containers, and the potential for damage or decay due to insects, rodents, light, and moisture. She made several recommendations, many of which have never been addressed.

            After the report, a request was made to the Board of Trustees in a 1995 letter (incorrectly dated as January 8, 1994) by John Chamberlin, Jean Hoefer, and Liz Strong that urged a motion be passed to do the following (see Appendix A-2):

Offer MMUUS historical records and documents to a safe repository such as Syracuse University Arents Library, or the Syracuse Public Library, or the Onondaga Historical Society.

Such a motion must have been passed because Jean Hoefer and June Card worked with Terry Keenan and Mark Weimer, Syracuse University archivists, and an agreement was reached whereby MMUUS would begin the transfer of records to Syracuse University. This agreement, dated July 7, 1995, was signed by Roger Thielking (MMUUS President) and Mark Weimer, the Arents Curator (see Appendix B).

            Jean Hoefer and June Card pulled together various materials after the board action and they were transmitted to Syracuse University. The first set was delivered most likely in July of 1995. A second batch was transmitted most likely in 1998 (see Appendix C). In a letter dated June 28, 2002, Jean (by then she had moved to Pennsylvania) reminded Gary Droege (MMUUS President) that we needed to supply another batch of records to the university (see Appendix D).

            As the original agreement (Appendix B) stipulated that MMUUS and the SU Library needed to review the archival arrangements every five years, beginning in 2000, 2005 is the year that we must go through that review process and, hopefully, continue our arrangements so that another batch of material can be transmitted soon. I compiled two prior reports on January 23, 2005 (see the report shown first in this document) and October 11, 2005 (see Appendix E) as a means for initiating discussion on the archives.


Where Are We Now?


            I begin this section with a personal opinion. I believe we should think about the value of our archives in two ways. First, because we have quite an outstanding archival collection, even given the limitations noted in the prior section, there is value in thinking about ways we can encourage its use by current and future scholars. Second, the national prestige of Samuel J. May, both during his lifetime and after his death, gives MMUUS a connection to a treasured heritage that should be further exploited.

            Related to this second point, I compiled a list of collections and references pertaining to Sam May (see Appendix F). It is no doubt very incomplete, but it provides some evidence to support my contention regarding the prestige of Sam May. In addition, rediscovery of the large marble tablet honoring Sam that was created after his death (see page 3 of Appendix E) presents MMUUS with a unique opportunity. I have later recommendations related to these first two paragraphs.

            I have spent approximately five hours assessing what we currently have in our church building that is of historical value. Appendix G provides a summary. In essence, virtually no progress has been made since Jean and June completed their efforts some time in 1998 (the last year shown in their written notes). In that time there has been continual deterioration of most items and some may even have disappeared.

            Perhaps even more disturbing, there is very little evidence that the collection and preservation of items of historical value have taken place during the past several years, other than a few sermons, papers, and records added to some drawers or boxes in the furnace room. To my knowledge, no new scrap books containing photos, newspaper clippings, and mementos from church events have been compiled for years. Bob Burdick and a few others have taken photos of people and events during this time period, but there has not been a systematic compilation and associated identification of the people in any such photos. In many ways, we are “losing” our recent history, especially as church members die or move away.

            I also have begun to digitize (OCR scanning) some records compiled by Jean and Joan for future safekeeping, but much more needs to be done. Through the advice of Alexa Carter and from a search on the Web, I’ve identified two organizations that may be funding sources to assist in future archival preservation efforts:

  1. The New York State Convention of Universalists provides small grants to UU societies, primarily in New York State. One of their stated objectives is to support the documentation and dissemination of Universalist history and the on-going significance of Universalism within the UU movement. There is a January 1 deadline for applications.
  2. The Documenting Heritage Program that was established in 1988 to ensure the identification, sound administration, and accessibility of New York’s historical records. They provide grants to not-for-profit organizations that collect, hold, and make available historical records.

I also have later recommendations related to these two organizations.


What Should We Do?


            I have attempted to make the case that as an organization we must move quickly to accomplish the following: (a) Better preserve our existing archives, (b) recapture as much of our history as possible that has been lost during the past several years, (c) put into place various mechanisms and procedures for ensuring an appropriate gathering of “archival” information in the future, and (d) transmit additional material to Syracuse University. I also placed the word “using” in the title of this report because I firmly believe in the value of actively encouraging use of an existing archive. Anyone interested in the liberal religious heritage of Unitarian Universalist both within the Syracuse area and elsewhere benefits from a vibrant archive at May Memorial.

In that regard, I make the following recommendations and request appropriate board action. Unless otherwise noted, I am willing to take the initial leadership in carrying out a stated recommendation if that is the Board of Trustees’ desire.

  1. Follow some of the suggestions made by Dr. Suzanne Etherington to better preserve our existing archives, especially those material that are likely candidates to remain at MMUUS rather than being transferred to Syracuse University.
    1. Seek one more volunteers to analyze the condition of our existing archival material and take appropriate steps for their improved preservation, such as moving all archival material to one location (the furnace room may be our only option).
    2. Seek funding to acquire necessary storage facilities (acid free containers, flat files for scrap books, steel storage cabinets, etc.)
    3. Carry out long term preservation activities as appropriate, such as optical scanning, digital photography, etc.
  1. Transmit another batch of records to Syracuse University as soon as possible beginning with Nick Cardell’s ministry.
    1. Meet with Syracuse University Arents Library archival specialists to complete arrangements for a continuing relationship between the university and MMUUS.
    2. Seek one or more volunteers, create at least one box of material, develop an index, and deliver the box to SU.
  2. Encourage scholars and people interested in the history of May Memorial (church members, students, historians, religious scholars, etc.) to use the archives.
    1. Invite members and friends of MMUUS to write about aspects of our history for the newsletter, local newspapers, our members, people interested in joining the church, etc.
    2. Invite scholars to consider utilizing our archives at SU and MMUUS for future publications, theses, dissertations, etc.
    3. Determine where other MMUUS archival material is located (Onondaga County Public Library system, Onondaga Historical Association, UUA, etc.), create corresponding descriptive material or finding aids, and portray this information on our web page (see no. 4 below).
  3. Advertise our archival information on the MMUUS web page by including links to existing index or descriptive material and new index material or finding aids as they are developed.
  4. Enhance the Samuel May link on the MMUUS web page by adding more information and describing the connections to our archival material.
  5. Carry out a rededication of the Samuel J. May plaque as soon as possible.
    1. Appoint a committee to determine an appropriate location for the plaque, oversee its repair and mounting, and develop related rededication activities (ceremony, involvement of youth and adults, publicity efforts, etc.).
    2. Utilize the rededication activities as a means for associated fund raising, connecting with former members, etc.
  6. Seek volunteers to interview current and past long-term church members for purposes of capturing their remembrances and insights about our history.
  7. Seek information from our current members and immediate past officers and board members to help us fill in our lost history during the past decade.
  8. Seek one or more volunteers to begin a process of scrap booking so that photographs, newspaper articles, church activity mementos, etc. will be gathered systematically for our future archival needs.
  9. Locate all photographs of church activities and associated people taken during the past couple of decades and record as much identifying information as possible.
  10. Develop one or more grant proposals to seek money to assist us with our various archival activities from the two funding organizations noted earlier in this report.
  11. Seek out cooperative ventures on archival activities with other UU churches in the area as appropriate.


Preserving our history unites current MMUUS members and friends with those who have gone before during our nearly 170 years. The vibrant nature of this church as a leader in liberal religion, social justice, and the protection of human rights throughout much of this area’s history needs constant celebration. Such vibrancy will continue and it is our responsibility to preserve this history to the best of our ability so that MMUUS members cherish what we have been, currently are, and can become far into the future.


Appendix A-1

Suzanne Etherington Report

Appendix A-2

Preservation Memo

Appendix B

MMUUS-Syracuse University Agreement

Appendix C

MMUUS Archive Materials at Syracuse University Library

Appendix D

Jean Hoefer 2002 Letter

Appendix E

Ideas Related to the Archives

Appendix F

Samuel J. May Collections and References

Appendix G

Current Status of our In-Church Archives



Document 3


First Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities -- January 20, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed during the past three months:

  1. Submitted two reports of archival activities to the BOT.
  2. Submitted a $6200 grant application related to archival activities to the New York State Convention of Universalists. A funding decision is due back to the church by February 28.
  3. Held the first of what will be three or four monthly history displays in the social hall on January 15. There was considerable interest.
  4. As a result of the above display and some personal recruiting, I have identified six people thus far who have volunteered to assist with archival activities. Irene Blakeslee is typing a master’s thesis on Sam May (see point no. 7 below) and June Card has advised me on the archival activities she worked on during the 90s. Four other volunteers signed up during the January 15 display activities.
  5. Bob Burdick has now digitally photographed "The Book" (what everyone signs when they become a member), starting from the first ones in 1838 through the last ones in 2005. He has two copies and I have one, so electronic preservation of some of our important documents is underway. Coincidently, June provided me with a box of archival material she had been storing and it included a floppy submitted to the church on September 10, 2001, by Mr. J. Roy Dodge, a well known genealogist in Syracuse. He had coordinating the word processing of a handwritten report by the Central New York Genealogical Society completed in the late 1970s that involved copying and indexing on file cards the first one hundred years of May Memorial membership. I uploaded that information and have this 37 page document stored in two locations.
  6. I have begun a “Marvelous History” column for each newsletter (when space is available) with two columns completed to date.
  7. I obtained a copy of a master’s thesis on Sam May (“Saint Before His Time”) authored by Catherine Covert Stepanek in 1964. I also received permission from Carolyn Holmes (Dr. Catherine Covert Stepanek's executrix -- Carolyn is her daughter) to digitize and place it on our Sam May link on the MMUUS web page (that is what Irene is working on). In going through our archives in the basement I discovered another paper that Catherine wrote about Sam, “Heretic in Syracuse,” and a copy of a sermon on Sam May that she gave in this church in 1972, “The Remarkable Mr. May.” I have obtained Carolyn's permission to also put those on the web.
  8. I have made my way through more than half of the MMUUS archives located at Syracuse University and have taken numerous notes and digital photographs to use for future displays at church and to better understand what is stored there.
  9. I have been developing material for an enhanced “history” link on the MMUUS web page. During the January 15 display I debuted a portion of the additions for that link (names, photos, bios, and sample sermons from our previous 11 settled ministers plus some additional historical material). Bob Schultz will be placing these various additions on the MMUUS web page in the near future. As a temporary means for interested people to observe some of these additions, a simulation page on another server is available: /simulationpage.html  I have identified several other historical items that will eventually be added to the web page.
  10. I met with Mr. Neil James, President of Hayes Monuments, and he provided estimates on repairing the Sam May plaque stored in our basement (this plaque hung in our former church). He thinks it can be done reasonably (probably under $150 not including additional costs for mounting or whatever else we would decide to do). I then met with the B & G and Memorial Garden committees in a joint meeting to describe the progress to date related to the plaque.
  11. I had a conversation with Mariah Dillon and Mal Clark about the viability of moving the archive filing cabinets in the furnace room down to the room where the finance committee has some file drawers. The Syracuse Fire Department has requested that the files be removed from the furnace room.
  12. In the near future I plan to explore the establishment of a budget line for archival activities and the creation of an advisory committee.

Rog Hiemstra, Archivist



Document 4


Second Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities – March 11, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed since January 20, 2006:

1.      Submitted a summary of my recent activities to Barbara Mihalas.

2.      We were awarded a portion ($3200) of the grant application submitted to the New York State Convention of Universalists. That money has now been requested and should arrive shortly. A revised budget has been developed that will focus mainly on preservation of our existing archives, placing a system in place for future development of our archives, and repair and mounting of the Sam May tablet.

3.      An archival committee has been formed to assist with some of the activities mentioned above. This committee consists of George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Healey, and Harsey Leonard. We will have our first meeting on March 15.

4.      The second history display was held in the social hall on February 19.

5.      A “History” column has been placed in the newsletter each time.

6.      I have made my way through about three-fourths of the MMUUS archives located at Syracuse University and have taken numerous notes and digital photographs to use for future displays at church and to better understand what is stored there.

7.      I have developed a “history” web page that Bob Schultz will place on the MMUUS web page in the near future. As of now, this information is temporarily available at /simulationpage.html .

8.      Mariah Dillon and Michael Stafford-Hill have been instrumental in moving the archive filing cabinets to the basement computer room. That task is mostly completed.

9.      The Memorial Garden committee has been discussing where the Sam May marble tablet might be placed if it is to reside out of the building. Others have expressed various ideas for mounting it inside or on an outside wall. I will continue to push for a resolution on this topic, as well as establishing a rededication service date.

10.  I have compiled a list of most of the past May Memorial presidents and many of the past annual award winners. Once that list is complete I will propose to the BOT some ways we can display such information.

11.  Finally, on March I will participate in a training session on preservation techniques

Rog Hiemstra, Archivist



Document 5


History Committee Formation


A history committee comprised of George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Henley, Roger Hiemstra (chair), and Harsey Leonard was formed and met in the computer room for the first time on March 15, 2006. Attachment A provides the minutes of that meeting. Attachment B displays the statement developed by the committee regarding our responsibilities to be displayed in the church’s operating manual.


Attachment A

History Committee, First Meeting, March 15, 2006

Comments and Reflections on the Meeting


After becoming better acquainted with each other, Roger described the various known locations of archival material and reflected on where other material might be. He described the types of material kept in the various file drawers.

            There was a brief discussion of the NYSCU grant which led to considerable discussion of the need for developing a system and policy for identifying what we currently have and for gathering, prioritizing, and preserving future information to be obtained. We talked about creating databases, identifying appropriate software, and digitizing some of the information we currently have. Frank will gather some information from Syracuse University on databases and recommended approaches for working with our material. Harsey mentioned the ability he has to digitize slides, film strips, etc. Roger will determine the types of database creation software the church might already own. In essence, we began some initial discussion on what needs to be kept (stored) at MMUUS, what needs to be digitized, and what needs to be submitted to SU. We also talked about developing a process for organizing, sorting, and preserving.

            Frank urged Roger to think through the informal processes he has been using thus far in working with and better understanding the archival collections as a means for thinking about creating some of the processes described above.

            We spent some time brainstorming about the first draft of a statement for the Operating Manual. Roger is to create a second draft and send it to the committee for further reflection.

            Roger also talked about obtaining the services of a locksmith to make sure all file cabinets (including the fire proof cabinet remaining in the furnace room) are in working order, lockable, and that multiple copies of the key are made for committee members and key church leaders.

            We concluded by talking about some individual activities committee members could undertake based on their available time. Based on that discussion and in reflecting on what is needed over the next several months, the following assignments are suggested below: 

  • George – Create an inventory of the material in the file drawers, gather and set aside all discovered sermons, and create special areas for Rev. Cardell, Rev. Taylor, Rev. Strong, and any other interim or associate ministers
  • June – Help with preservation activities and preparation of the Zoerheide and Fuller boxes
  • Mary Louise – Help with preservation activities and preparation of the Zoerheide and Fuller boxes
  • Frank – Conceptualize and begin developing a systematic approach for organizing, sorting, and preserving our archival material, including making recommendations for database software
  • Harsey – Begin the process of digitizing any discovered slides, filmstrips, photographs, etc. In addition, work to collection and organize the social justice materials that are in various locations
  • Roger – To help with any of the above, provide any necessary training, continue assessing what is already stored at Syracuse University, and administer the NYSCU grant  

As the meeting ended we viewed the Sam May Marble Tablet. Roger agreed to work on establishing a second meeting.  Roger Hiemstra, Archivist, March 22, 2006


Attachment B


Statement to be Used in the Operating Manual

April 1, 2006


Purpose: The History Committee works to oversee the identification, gathering, preservation, and protection of information, material, and artifacts pertinent to the history of May Memorial.


Committee Structure: The structure and operation of the committee shall be governed by the following:

1.      The History Committee shall consist of five to seven people, all of whom are MMUUS members in good standing or who have made an annual pledge of record.

2.      The church archivist will be considered an additional member of the committee and serve as its chair for organizational and reporting purposes.

3.      Each committee member will serve a minimum of a two years, unless an early resignation is requested, and may serve an unlimited number of years after that time period.

4.      Robert’s Rules of Order will be followed in the conduct of committee meetings. For voting purposes, a quorum will consist of at least four people.

5.      A vice chair and recorder will be elected by majority vote, with the length of term open-ended based on personal preference.


General Responsibilities: The responsibilities of the History Committee and church archivist shall include the following:

1.      Develop a record management policy for systematically gathering information related to the “ongoing” history of MMUUS.

a.       Develop and maintain a written record management policy, preservation plan, mission statement, long term strategy, and corresponding implementation guidelines.

b.      Determine the various locations where church archival material are stored.

c.       To the extent possible, consolidate such material into one location.

d.      Determine the location of past photographs, slides, and other visual material related to church activities, leadership, ministers, and parishioners.

e.       To the extent possible, identify the names of all people shown in such visual material.

f.        Create a corresponding organizational system of information pertaining to the above points.

g.       Create an index or catalog that details what the church has of historical value and where it is located.

h.       Implement appropriate procedures pertaining to the above points.

2.      Gather new archival and historical information about May Memorial from approximately 1990 forward, as well as seeking prior information not already contained within our archival collections.

a.       Seek historical information from current and past church members.

b.      Find or photocopy newspaper clippings and other similar information pertaining to church activities and individuals utilizing the Syracuse University “Newspaper Archive Elite” database, as well as from other sources.

c.       Create scrap books or other means for storing and displaying such information.

3.      Select and prepare those informational resources, records, and artifacts appropriate for submission to the Syracuse University Archives pertaining to the following ministerial eras:

·        Rev. Dr. Robert Lee Zoerheide

·        Rev. John Channing Fuller

·        Rev. Dr. Nicholas C. Cardell, Jr.

·        Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May Strong

·        Rev. Scott E. Taylor

·        The many interim and associate ministers during our history.

a.       Submit such material to the university in a timely fashion.

b.      Seek outside funding to continue the preservation and submission of materials in an ongoing manner.

4.      Preserve archival material remaining at May Memorial in accordance with recommended archival preservation procedures.

a.       Acquire appropriate storage facilities and resources, including monitoring the storage space for fire control, climatic conditions, and damage recovery needs

b.      Carry out necessary preservation activities.

c.       Record appropriate identification information in a database and create necessary labels for individual items.

d.      Sort information by various domains determined to be appropriate for MMUUS.

e.       Initiate long term preservation activities as appropriate, such as optical scanning, digital photography, and Web page and other storage techniques.

5.      Disseminate information about and encourage the use of May Memorial archives and other historical material.

a.       Share information about History Committee activities and decisions with the BOT.

b.      Provide information about our archives to the congregation through occasional history displays and newsletter articles.

c.       Encourage MMUUS members and friends to write about aspects of church history for the Web page, newsletter, newspapers, people interested in joining the church, professional journals, etc.

d.      Disseminate information to churches, seminaries, universities, and other organizations about the MMUUS historical material and their relevance for enhancing Unitarian Universalism via subsequent research (theses, dissertations, publications, etc.).

6.      Create and maintain a church web page link related to our historical information.

a.       Incorporate finding aids and information summaries pertaining to the historical information at Syracuse University and MMUUS into a new link on the church Web page.

b.      Include various research suggestions pertaining to such historical material.

7.      Enhance our institution’s Samuel J. May heritage.

a.       Restore, mount, and maintain the Samuel J. May memorial marble tablet as a part of the May Memorial church property.

b.      Identify and add additional material and information related to Reverend May to the May Memorial Web page.

c.       Encourage members and friends of MMUUS to write and/or speak about our Samuel J. May heritage as a means of enhancing an appreciation of the church and its rich heritage pertaining to Unitarian Universalism.

8.      Gather information about May Memorial from current and past church members.

a.       Interview such individuals regarding their knowledge of church history and record this information.

b.      Digitize the information obtained, create printed documents for storage, add summaries to the new history Web page link, and develop appropriate “stories” for use by church members, church leaders, and RE teachers.

c.       Seek from such people photographs, newspaper articles, reports, church activity mementos, and other memorabilia of historical relevance.



Document 6


Third Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities – April 30, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed since March 11, 2006:

1.      The History Committee (myself, George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Healey, and Harsey Leonard) had our first meeting on March 15. We discussed procedures for the committee, approved a statement for the Operating Manual, and each agreed to take on some work responsibilities pertaining to preservation of the archives. We will have a second meeting in May.

2.      The statement for the Operating Manual pertaining to the History Committee was submitted to Barbara Mihalas.

3.      I developed a "Marvelous History Corner" column for the church newsletter and contribute to it every two weeks. In addition, the third history display took place in the church social hall on March 19.

4.      On March 21 I participated in a training session on preservation techniques sponsored by the Onondaga Public Library.

5.      We worked with Murphy Locks of DeWitt on a project to provide or repair existing locks for all six of the filing cabinets now stored in the computer room, including one that is fire proof. Keys have been provided to members of the History Committee and a spare set resides in the church office.

6.      Various archival preservation materials and resources were ordered from Gaylord. They arrived and are now stored in the locked filing cabinets.

7.      All the archive file folders and materials that were stored in a wide two-drawer filing cabinet in the church office were moved down to the locked filing cabinets.

8.      I developed a proposal for repair and mounting of the Sam May Tablet and it is being considered by members of the Memorial Garden committee.

9.      Bob Burdick and I have been working on some ideas for developing a permanent photo display on one of the church walls. One or more proposals will be developed for presentation during the annual meeting if that becomes feasible.

10.  Lists of the past May Memorial presidents and many of the past annual award winners have been compiled and that information hangs on a bulletin board. A proposal will be developed for a more permanent display of this information.

11.  I made a brief presentation on Sam May and our church preservation activities at the annual SLD Assembly in Geneva on April 29.

12.  Carolyn Holmes, Executrix and daughter of Dr. Catherine Covert Stepanek, gave us permission to include three of Dr. Stepanek’s publications related to Sam may on our web page. Two have been digitized and ready to be uploaded. The third one, a Master’s Thesis, is currently being digitized. Carolyn also donated to the archives a memoir written about Sam shortly after his death.    Rog Hiemstra, Archivist



Document 7


Social Hall History Displays


Three monthly history displays have been shown in the Social Hall after a church service as a means for proudly portraying our history, demonstrating the kinds of material existing in our archives, and interesting parishioners and guests in our history. It is anticipated that additional displays will be shown in the fall or that a permanent history display case can be created.

            January 15, 2006 – A television monitor connected to a laptop showed photos of past ministers and the temporary Web page described earlier in this document. A tripod and board contained a display of Rev. Elizabeth Padgham, a Unitarian minister who grew up in our church and retired back in Syracuse where she was active in the church for many years. A long table and card table displayed various artifacts, historical materials, handouts, and a scrapbook.

            February 19, 2006 – A laptop showed the temporary Web page described earlier. A tripod and board contained displays on our early church buildings and one of our first assistant ministers. A long table and card table displayed various artifacts, historical materials, information on Rev. Samuel Calthrop, handouts, and a scrapbook. A photo was shown and viewers asked to name the various unlabeled individuals in the photo.

            March 19, 2006 - A tripod and board contained displays and brief descriptions of the stained glass windows in our previous James Street church. In addition, lists of our prior church presidents and various of our annual award winners were shown. A long table displayed various artifacts, historical materials, and a scrapbook.



Document 8


Newsletter Articles


Beginning in January, articles related to our history under the heading “Marvelous History Corner!” were included in the church newsletter as another means for informing church parishioners and friends about and generating interest in our history. They are shown below. The date shown after each number is when it was written. It was published in the next church newsletter after that date.


1. (1/1/06) I wasn’t quite sure why I agreed to become church archivist. Yes, I love history and like to dig through old books and papers. I also knew some help was needed. When recently going through all the MMUUS archival materials stored at Syracuse University to understand what was there, I found the real answer. Reading through the Sam May file folders, Rev. May mentioned several times working with William Ingersoll Bowditch in his various abolition and underground railroad activities (there is a William Bowditch house in Brookline, Massachusetts, preserved because of its extensive use as an underground railroad stop). In September our daughter married Sean Bowditch, so I asked his mother (who had done research on the family) and, lo and behold, Sean’s great-great-great-great uncle is William. So, with six degrees of separation Janet and I can claim a direct connection to Sam May. How is that for a resounding confirmation of why I volunteered and it shows the enjoyment that can come from understanding MMUUS history? Look for a table in the social hall on January 15 where some of our historical documents will be on display and dream about your own connections to our past. Think, too, about volunteering to help preserve our history. There are many ways you can help.    Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            2. (1/18/06) “The Book” has been preserved electronically! Yes, that red ledger everyone signs when agreeing to become a member has been preserved through Bob Burdick’s great digital photography skill. From that first page starting with Joshua Leonard and several others who “signed” (those first few year’s worth of names were actually copied over) on September 3, 1838, to those many pages later when seven people signed the book on November 20, 2005, the book has now been photographed. So, give Bob a pat on the back or “thanks” when next you see him.

            We now have a new web page related to MMUUS history. It is temporarily located on another server until our webmaster has an opportunity to put it on the church server. If you are interested you can see it at /simulationpage.html   If you enjoy a stimulating sermon, you will find several of them from our past settled ministers (and from favorite daughter, Rev. Elizabeth Padgham) you can link to. If you find time to read them, tell me your favorite. I’ll keep a running tally and provide the results later.     Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            3. (2/2/06) It has been a real joy and very informative to journey through the ten boxes of material MMUUS already has stored in the Syracuse University archives unit. I am a little over half way through and keep discovering exciting “nuggets” that have helped me feel even more a part of the glorious history that is May Memorial. We, as an institution, as well as each of our past ministers (and many past church members), have made tremendous contributions to the greater Syracuse area and beyond.

            On Sunday, February 19, there will be another History display in the Social Hall after the church service. Plan to see it. In addition to some more historical artifacts and another annual scrapbook from many years ago, come see a picture of the most handsome minister we ever had, Rev. Albert Willard Clark, associate pastor of May Memorial, 1902-1904. Look, too, for a special display on Rev. Dr. Samuel Robert Calthrop, our minister from 1868 to 1911. Outstanding preacher, scientist, poet, and athlete, he made a huge mark in Syracuse. Don’t miss it! A brief display on our former church locations and buildings will be included. Also on display will be a copy of The Children’s Bible, signed by our sixth minister, Rev. Robert Romig, and former RE Director, Dr. Elizabeth Manwell. These bibles were given to all children in the 1940s. It was recently donated by a former member.

            Remember, too, the temporary web page that provides photos, information, and links to sermons for all past settled parish ministers, Rev. Elizabeth Padgham (MMUUS’ favorite daughter), and Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Strong, our Minister of Religious Education from 1988 to 2001 and our first settled woman minister. You can see it at the following URL: /simulationpage.html   Finally, look for a handout describing the various ways you can volunteer to be part of preserving our history.   Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            4. (2/22/06) We are proud to announce that MMUUS has won a small grant ($3200) from the New York State Convention of Universalists to help with preservation of our church archives during the next 12 months. This grant will enable us to purchase archival quality file cabinets, acid free storage containers, archival quality memory scrapbooks, and other archival supplies. In addition, there will be some financial support for the repair and mounting of the Sam May marble tablet. Look for a rededication service later this year. Finally, we will be able to purchase some equipment for obtaining an oral history of church memories from people long associated with the church. Volunteers will be welcome for some of these activities.

            We also have an archival committee (George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Healy, and Harsey Leonard) that will work with me to develop a record management policy and implement procedures for gathering and preserving information related to the ongoing history of MMUUS. Look for our efforts in the near future.

            Finally, if you have not recently looked at the temporary web site I developed on our church history (/simulationpage.html), you are invited to do so as much of the material shown in both the January and February history displays have been included. Remember, too, to read some of the outstanding sermons by past ministers that you can link to from this web site. Our web master, Bob Schulz, will soon incorporate all this information in our church web site. A final note: If you have any church-related historical material, contact me to see if it should be included in either the archives at May Memorial or in the archival collection stored at Syracuse University.

Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            5. (3/06/06) We have had some prestigious ancestors. You have already been introduced to Rev. Elizabeth Padgham, our favorite daughter. She and her sister, Clara, were accomplished musicians. From an August, 1879, newspaper clipping, it was noted that Elizabeth played “Hebe” in Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Good Ship Pinafore” at the old Weiting Opera House in Syracuse. At age 5 and known as “Baby Padgham,” she had a “strong voice and was a thoroughly self-possessed little performer.” She was in several other types of performances and operettas growing up and continuing in musical activities in college. Her father, Amos, who “signed the book” in 1884, was a County Supervisor, and was first elected to our church Board of Trustees in 1889.

            Another early leader was Dudley Phelps, who joined the church in 1839. He was a member of the New York Assembly in 1855. He was early opposed to slavery and was a delegate to the 1848 Free Soil Convention in Buffalo. The Free Soil Party was a short-lived U.S. political party (1840-1856) that was opposed to the extension of slavery into any of the then existing U.S. territories. Frank Hiscock, who also became a member in 1884, was a prominent Onondaga County Judge. He was an active member of our Board of Trustees from 1919 into the 1930s.

            Finally, there is John Wilkinson who became a member of the church in 1839 and was instrumental in its early development. John was Syracuse’s first lawyer, first Post Master, and instrumental in bringing railroads to the Syracuse area. He also came up with the name “Syracuse” for the town, suggesting it based on his knowledge of Syracusa in Italy. His wife, Laura Starr Wilkinson, was an early home economist (called then Domestic Economy) and helped form the first professional home economics association, the National Columbian Household Association, in 1893. One of Sam May’s daughters married a Wilkinson son. Many of you know Jack Wilkinson who graced our church halls for many years, a direct descendent of John.     Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            6. (4/4/06) Those who attended our Sam May Day service on March 26 heard a wonderful presentation by David Kaczynski. You also heard how fervently Rev. May expressed his own views against the death penalty, with the six reasons why capital punishment should be abolished from his July 25, 1851, New York Daily Tribune article. The more you learn about Sam, the more you realize how fortunate we were to have his heritage as such an important part of our church history.

            Thus, in the Sam May web page are three new items for your reading pleasure. One is a wonderful thesis written in 1964 by Catherine Covert Stepanek entitled, Saint Before His Time: Samuel J. May and American Educational Reform, showing another important aspect of Sam’s many contributions to Syracuse. Irene Blakeslee is converting it to a digital format so our Webmaster, Bob Schulz, can include it. Thanks Irene and Bob. Another is a paper also written by Catherine, entitled, Heretic in Syracuse: Samuel Joseph May, 1845-1871. The third is an address by Catherine given in this church on February 13, 1972, entitled, The Remarkable Mr. May. Dr. Stepanek’s executrix, her daughter Carolyn Holmes, has kindly given us permission to include these three documents on our web page.

            Incidentally, Carolyn also loaned me a copy of the Life of Samuel J. May that her mother owned. This book, a memoir, was published in 1873. It makes for great reading and although I have only read parts of it, I have already learned so much new about the amazing Sam May. I will share some excerpts at a later date.    Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            7. (4/17/06) Many who read this newsletter think fondly about several past and present social activities: Friday Night Pub, square dancing, talent shows, potlucks, concerts, potlucks, Garnet Hill ski weekend, etc.. Such socializing opportunities are very important and help make attending MMUUS so wonderful. But, socializing has been very important since this church was formed. In 1838 through the latter part of the 19th Century, Syracuse was dominated by Calvinists. Presbyterian principles ruled and most of the leading people were Presbyterian. In many ways it was stifling for our ancestors and the Calvinists simply refused to associate with us because we would not accept Trinitarian beliefs. The archives contain reports of how being with each other became crucial. Thus was born lovely and lively Unitarian social evenings of food, entertainment, games, and conversations, church hallmarks that have continued for nearly 12 decades.

            Here is the origin of “chore boy” mentioned during the Sam May Day service. It is from the Memoir of Samuel Joseph May, Thomas Mumford (Ed.), Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1873 (available online at;idno=ABJ1200), p. 232, and attributed to Transcendentalist Amos Bronson Alcott ( authors/alcott/), Sam’s brother-in-law: “Mr. A. B. Alcott was once at Syracuse when Mr. May was engaged from morning until night in errands of mercy, -- visiting the sick, burying the dead, helping fugitive slaves and canal boys, and prisoners who wish to reform. When he reached home at evening, and was drawing off the boots from his weary feet, Mr. Alcott said: ‘I have found a new name for you. You are the Lord’s chore boy. You do the Lord’s chores.’ ”        Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            8. (5/10/06) Florida Tracy, an active member of May Memorial during much of the first half of the 20th Century, was a fount of information about our church. Her involvement, observations, and memory are recorded in many places throughout the archives. Here are some of her remembrances. During WWI, May Memorial was the first church in Syracuse to provide recreational activities for soldiers of the U.S. Army’s Rainbow Division (part of the New York National Guard and 42nd Division, the first Division sent to Europe in 1918 to support French troops) being trained in the Syracuse area and camped at the State Fair grounds, known as “Camp Syracuse.” Six days a week in the church dining room from noon to the evening we provided a free cafeteria service with church women serving as hostesses. Showers were installed in the cellar and our church President at that time, Irving Merrill, taught literacy classes in arithmetic. WWI affected us in other ways, too. Our minister during the time period, Rev. Dr. John Henry Applebee, took a leave to serve as a Red Cross Chaplin. This war service on battlefields and in hospitals undermined his health. On his return he found that his wife, Alice, was suffering from cancer and died after much suffering. He never really recovered.

            The Women’s Alliance, an active church women’s group during this time period and up into the 60s, carried out a number of community service activities. For example, each year the Alliance provided a noontime Christmas dinner and entertainment on the last day of school before the holiday for 75 to 100 of the poorest first and second graders in two nearby public schools. Eventually as the need for a meal lessened, it morphed into the “Mitten Tree,” a traditional still carried on today. Church sewing groups also provided clothes and bandages for the Red Cross to use and after both world wars this energy went to producing clothing for refugee babies. As can be expected, and I am talking to the men of the church now, where would we all be without the tireless efforts, great energy, and super leadership of May Memorial women.                 Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            9. (5/17/06) May Memorial has been blessed throughout its history, and continuing right up until today, to have had many pillars that step up, often very quietly, to take on important and/or needed roles in the church. From unsigned material in the archives, someone provided testimony to two such people in our past. The first was Dr. Marion Sylvester Dooley, an active member during the first part of the last century, who made it a life long habit to visit people when they were ill. Many people in our church were sustained by visits from Dr. Dooley and his wife. A doctor of medicine, for many years he was Professor and Head of the Department of Pharmacology at the Syracuse College of Medicine. He wrote some valued books related to pharmacology and drug therapy during the 30s and 40s. He was President of our Laymen’s League, a member of the Board of Trustees, and Chair of the Unitarian Service Committee. All members of his family were active church members, too.

            Miss Elizabeth Ann Lewis was thought of as a saint, tireless worker, and premier thinker in our church and our denomination regarding religious education. She was director of our church school during the twenties and introduced liberal textbooks and liberal teaching in the curriculum. She worked cooperatively with a few other advanced thinkers in the Unitarian church to influence the direction of curriculum building committee at our national headquarters. She also taught numerous adult education courses in our church. She helped provide leadership for our lending library, the social action committee, and neighborhood discussion groups active during that time. She was very active in the greater Syracuse community, too. MMUUS’ heritage is so rich because of people like Marion and Elizabeth. It makes me proud to be part of this wonderful institution.

            Finally, if you have not looked at the Sam May link on our web page, there are four new pieces there about Sam. Two from historian, Dr. Catherine Covert Stepanek, and two sermons from Rev. Richard (Rick) R. Davis, First Unitarian Society of Salem (Oregon). All four are terrific and you certainly will gain new insight into Rev. May’s life.          Rog Hiemstra, Archivist


10. (6/6/06) The Other Sam – Our third minister was Rev. Dr. Samuel Robert Calthrop, a minister for 43 years (1868-1911) and pastor emeritus after that. Rev. Calthrop was truly a renaissance man. See /simulationpage.html and /backwardglance.html for more information and a marble bust of Sam stands in the little foyer just before entering the RE area.

            Born in England, he entered Cambridge at the age of 19 where he excelled. However, he refused to sign 39 Articles of the Anglican church faith required by the university which prevented his graduation and eventually led him to the United States and Unitarianism. He was an excellent scientist having patented a streamlined train, discovered numerous sunspots, and learned to predict the weather. He lectured in our church and elsewhere on a wide variety of topics beyond religion such as astronomy, botany, financial management, flowers, geology, physical training needs, and even raising tomatoes. He was a personal friend of Sir Isaac Newton and Susan B. Anthony. Like his predecessor, Sam May, he was very interested in education and youth. A teacher prior to becoming a pastor, he organized the Syracuse Boys’ Club, established the first playgrounds in Syracuse, and even taught at Syracuse University.

            Dr. Calthrop was a very physically fit individual most of his life. Tall, with a big frame, and a great white beard, he was an expert boxer in his younger days, and skilled at billiards, crew, cricket, hockey, rowing, and tennis. His true passion was chess where he was known as one of the best in the country by winning local and state championships. He beat opponents while playing blindfolded and by playing several at the same time. Able to quote verbatim from Greek and Latin Classics, he was widely published, a gifted poet, and a sought after orator. All of this while maintaining his pastorate here and being well loved and respected by both May Memorial church members and people throughout Syracuse. Renaissance man, indeed. Wow, were we lucky or what.

            Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            11. (6/26/06) As most who read this newsletter know by now, the marble tablet honoring Sam May that was in the James Street church, once thought lost, was found. It will be repaired, hung on the southwest outside wall of the church, and dedicated on October 1. An exciting and meaningful time for us, so I’m ruminating just a bit more on our beloved Rev. May.

            In many ways, Sam was always ahead of his time. He helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. Hear the power, poignancy, and even irony in his words when he spoke on May 8, 1834, at the 1st anniversary meeting of that Society in NYC: “By the laws which sustain slavery, millions of human beings are held as chattels. Yes . . . they are driven along the streets of Washington, with less liberty than cattle, in the sight of that proud capital, where the national flag is flying, and where so many fine things are said in the favor of liberty.” He spoke with such fervor for years throughout the Northeast and was mobbed five times for the voice he refused to quiet. No wonder he brought that fire here and eventually was front and center in the “Jerry Rescue” saga. As our own Rev. John Fuller said in a 1966 sermon about Dr. May and the Jerry rescue, “He was a man on fire for the freedom of all men, on fire for righteousness, on fire especially for his poor brothers in slavery.”

            He was ahead of his times in so many other ways, too. You know of his stance against the death penalty, but did you know that in 1826 at age 29 he founded one of the earliest Peace Societies in the U.S., the Windham County (Connecticut) Peace Society. When he was President of the Syracuse Board of Education he abolished corporal punishment. Peace, forgiveness, and do no harm obviously were part of his lifelong motto. One can go on and on about our Sam May, so once that marble tablet is in place, walk by occasionally and thank him for being who he was.             Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            12. (8/9/06) History Committee members have been involved in various preservation activities this summer. For example, George Adams is inventorying our many files, folders, and boxes; Harsey Leonard is retrieving images from slides and other media. Mary Louise Edwards and I are removing acid from old papers and preparing material to be stored at Syracuse University. It is hard work at times, but most enjoyable, and we keep learning more about our wonderful history. We do need more help so please volunteer some time.

            I can’t resist sharing one of the items Harsey retrieved from an old microfilm. Someone photographed old scrapbooks years ago and many delightful items have come alive. Let me take you back to yesteryear, near the birth of our beloved church. The year is 1862 and this delightful piece shows up in the local newspaper:

The Ladies of the


will repeat their entertainment

An Evening with Dickens,”

In Wieting Hall

On Monday Evening, Feb. 3, 1862


1. Tableau – The Soldiers Dream.

2. Pantomime Ballad – Mistletoe Bough.

3. From Dombey & Son – [and it goes on from there for 13 acts]

Admission 25 cents – Children 15 cents

            Can’t you just picture people from throughout Syracuse coming out to watch the Unitarian ladies and their entertainment activities? As Big Russ would say (for those who have read Tim Russert’s Big Russ and Me), “what a country” and what a city where Unitarians can entertain people of varying faiths with material from Dickens. It must have been something!            Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            13. (8/29/06) On September 12 we can celebrate the 209th anniversary of Sam May’s birth. Not necessarily a special occasion, but nearing his birth date prompted me to read through an inspirational little book, In Memoriam. Samuel Joseph May. This book was published in 1871 a few months after Rev. May’s death, July 1, 1871. A committee consisting of Rev. Samuel Caltrop and several church members and friends (Mr. C. D. B. Mills, Mr. D. P. Phelps, Mr. H. N. White, Mrs. Mary E. Bagg, and Mrs. Rebecca J. Burt) prepared and published this testimony to the life of Sam May. It will be scanned and added to the church web page in the near future.

            Just reading about the July 6 funeral service brings both tears to the eyes as well as renewed awe regarding the many lives that Sam touched. Many people participated in the service, some traveling long distances to do so. This from the address of Mr. William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the very respected anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, sums up well the sentiment expressed in many ways that day: “I have lost a most affectionate and unswerving friend, an early and untiring co-worker in the broad field of freedom and humanity, a brother beloved incomparably beyond all blood relationship. Syracuse has lost one of its most useful and esteemed citizens; the nation one of the worthiest of its sons; the world one of the purest, most philanthropic, most divinely actuated of all its multitudinous population.” Happy birthday, Sam, and thanks for gracing our church and our community with your devoted service.

            One of Rev. May’s least touted contributions, but, perhaps, one of his most important, was his untiring championing of better education for the youth of our community and our country. Historian Catherine Covert wrote a well researched and delightful Master’s thesis on her way to a PhD in History and distinguished teaching career at SU: Saint Before His Time: Samuel J. May and American Educational Reform. Thanks to the able assistance of Irene Blakeslee in converting a photocopy of this 1964 document to a digital format and the permission of Catherine’s daughter, this wonderful document is now on the Sam May web page along with two other of Dr. Covert’s pieces related to Sam May ( ). They are highly recommended reading for anyone interested in education.

            Finally, put the afternoon of October 1 on your calendar as we rededicate the Sam May Memorial Marble Tablet that hung on the wall of our former James Street church. More details will follow later.               Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            14. (9/17/06) I just love it when an article sort of writes itself. On September 12 Janet and I were election inspectors for the primary. Where I was assigned, one of my fellow inspectors was an 81 year old man by the name of Walt Slagle. I thought nothing of the name, but during our nine hours together I mentioned my involvement with May Memorial. He then proceeded to tell me that he used to attend May Memorial at the former James Street church. He taught Sunday School as soon as he was old enough and he fondly remembers riding in 1941 with a carload of May Memorial boys driven by Reginald Manwell (Hank’s dad) to a Rowe, Vermont, Unitarian church for a youth conference. He remembers most fondly Rev. Robert Romig (our minister from 1941 to 1946) who he said was a wonderful man.

But here is where the fun began. I knew I should know that name. Then he told me that his Mom was May Slagle and it all “clicked.” I remember her name from pouring over old documents, but some who read this newsletter will remember May as a long time and indispensable office manager of May Memorial. As noted in May No One Be A Stranger (p. 45) “in the minds of many church school children who heard their parents mention May Slagle, she, not the minister from 100 years ago, was the source of the church name.” May was one of the most active of all our volunteers in the school lunch program the church sponsored and ran during WWII. She edited the church newsletter, for many years, too. She retired in 1974 and died in May (what other month could it be) of 1978 at the age of 85. Walt remembers that Nick Cardell did a beautiful memorial service for his Mom. Incidentally, his brother Eugene went to our church and his Dad ran a woodworking center for youth in the James Street basement. His aunt, May’s sister, Helen McKnight, was an active church member and served as church historian for several years (thanks, Helen).

            So this article is dedicated not only to May Slagle, but to all the wonderful people who have served as office manager, treasurer, sextant, custodian, and many other important staff positions during our 168 year history down to people such as Karen and Leslie today. This church could not have happened without you. We send a big thanks and salute back through the ages. Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            15. (10/3/06) The dedication service on October 1 was wonderful and the rains stayed away. The choir sang, we all sang, and several people spoke, including former member and Historian, Jean Hoefer. She and Bill traveled from afar to be with us for the dedication. In addition, Professor Ron DeRutte from SU described how he will repair and mount the tablet this fall.

            Here is a bit about the tablet’s history. It was installed below a stained glass window in the James Street church in 1886 as a memorial to Sam May. The sermon delivered at its unveiling was by a good friend, Rev. William P. Tilden, who had been influenced by Sam during Sam’s ministry at South Scituate, Massachusetts. Rev. Tilden described Sam this way in words so consistent with what we have come to know about Sam May: “Calm as a June morning, but firm as Gibraltar, he was a Moral hero” (from this document found by Betsy Fuller – Vinal, W. G., 1954, Old Scituate churches in a changing world, Norwell, MA: Ladies Alliance of The First Parish Church, p. 34). See /windows.html for a look at all the stained glass creations in that church and click on the name being honored shown at the bottom of each window to read a description. The tablet was broken while being removed from the church in 1963 before its razing, transported to the Onondaga Historical Society, then lost. Fortunately, it was rediscovered last summer, transported to May Memorial, and soon will adorn our outside southwest wall. Somehow it feels fitting that it will look out on the Memorial Garden and Pavilion. See for a color photo of the tablet. The inscribed words are difficult to read in the photo, so here they are as they were written one hundred and twenty years ago:

In memory of Samuel Joseph May, born in Boston September 12, 1797, died in Syracuse July 1, 1871. The beloved minister of this church during twenty-four years, his life diffused the radiance of piety and charity throughout this community. A loyal follower of Jesus, he loved God supremely and his fellow-men as himself. He helped the erring and sorrowful and uplifted the downtrodden. In the struggle against slavery he was among the earliest, most fearless and most constant. A fervent, devout preacher, an assiduous, loving pastor, an untiring apostle of education, temperance and peace, a steadfast defender of spiritual liberty. Trusting wholly in the ideal right he labored from youth to age to bring in the kingdom of God. When death was near he said: “I  may have hereafter a clearer vision, I can hardly have a surer faith.”

I close with the words read by President, Fred Fiske, as the official dedication of the tablet and pavilion: "We have gathered here today to remember Ernie Archambault as a representative of the many MMUUS parishioners over our history who have stood for selfless commitment to May Memorial and to remember Samuel J. May as a representative of the many ministers and others throughout our history who have provided leadership for May Memorial to maintain an important place in the greater Syracuse Community. May this pavilion and this marble tablet stand as symbols of such devotion for many generations to come. We so dedicate these symbols."  Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            16. (10/17/06) I looked through material recently and reread the October 9, 2002, Post Standard article on Rev. Nick Cardell’s death and what he meant to MMUUS, the Syracuse Community, and so many people. It reminded me of his memorial service and all the things said about Nick by various people. Then my “archive” mind lead to searching for similar material on perhaps our two most famous historical figures.

            In a May 14, 1917, Syracuse Herald article about Rev. Dr. Samuel Calthrop (see his marble bust now located in the Memorial Room near Sam May’s bust), the author described how hundreds visited our James Street church for “one last look upon the face of Dr. Calthrop.” A high bank of flowers had been built in front of the chancel; over the pulpit and communion table, reaching from the ceiling nearly to the floor, hung an American flag. Entering the church a visitor saw only the flag and flowers and it was not until coming closer that within the bier of flowers could be seen the coffin of the beloved pastor. Rev. Calthrop was crowned with his black skull cap, without which he never appeared in public other than when he delivered a sermon. He lay as if in peaceful sleep and looked just as though he had sunk into an afternoon nap. Mothers lifted their children to see his gentle face among the flowers and tears streamed from the eyes of many who mourned his loss and revered the 49 years of service he gave to May Memorial and the greater Syracuse community.

Rev. Samuel May’s funeral on July 6, 1871, had drawn an even bigger gathering of devoted worshipers, friends, community and national dignitaries, and townspeople who respected his great service. At 10 that morning his body in a metallic casket was moved to the Church of the Messiah, our second church building, which had been decorated, and placed before the pulpit from which he had spoken so many faithful, earnest words (see ). The church doors were then opened and hundreds filed by for a last look at his loving face. Subsequently, every church seat was filled, the porch was crowded, and the stairway and yard outside filled with the old and young, rich and poor, all eager to join in doing honor to the name and memory of a man who had done so much for so many. Fittingly, Rev. Calthrop gave a moving prayer during the service that brings tears to the eye just reading it some 135 years later. A memorial book to Sam May published in 1871 is being prepared for inclusion on the church web page this fall. It contains much more information about his life and the funeral service that honored his living, contributions, and meaning to May Memorial. It stands as a testament to the many leaders who have served this church so well.         Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            17. (11/8/06) At Dave Ashley’s urging, I’ve looked at material in our church archives and the Syracuse University archives regarding the enormous work by so many associated with conceiving, planning, designing, and building our current church. Especially gratifying was reading through a two inch file at the Syracuse University archival collection regarding the famed Dean Pietro Belluschi’s numerous architectural contributions to our church. It was intriguing to see the various push and pull discussions and a willingness by many people to meet our needs while maintaining the design integrity. Getting behind the scenes of our fascinating venture in the early 1960s was a real treat.

So many people from May Memorial contributed countless hours to enable 3800 E. Genesee St. become the wonderful place that we know. More than 100 people participated via a dozen crucial committees to make it all happen. Some of the current members involved included Doug Aird, Howland Auchincloss, Mal Clark, Al Obrist, Helen Obrist, and Dorothy Riester. The next time you see one of them ask about their memories of this important time in our church history. To look at some related photos and papers, go to /churchbuilding.html .

Many thanks go to Lisa Obrist (with help from Helen and Al) who was able to identify several people in photos from that time our current church was being built. Thanks also to Verah Johnson, newest History Committee member, and Irene Blakeslee and Lyn Coyle who have typed much of the new Web page material that has been added recently as noted below.

 Finally, three new Web page items have been added that are well worth your perusal. One is Dr. Catherine Covert’s wonderful Master’s thesis: Saint Before His Time: Samuel J. May and American Educational Reform at . Another is a very moving story of Sam May’s life, death, funeral, and burial: IN MEMORIAM – Samuel Joseph May. This can be viewed at /inmemorialsjm.html . The third is May No One Be A Stranger by Jean Hoefer and Irene Baros Johnson at /stranger.html . This wonderfully written history of our church from 1838 to 1988 has been enhanced with many links to relevant support material. Both these latter two will be added to the church web page in the near future.       Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            18. (11/21/06) I, like so many, stand in awe of Dan and Doris Sage, who along with Dick Weiskopf, Sam Feld, and Phil and Donna Muhs-McCarten recently traveled to Fort Benning, Georgia, to bear witness in this ongoing travesty against social justice. Now called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC), the school trains Latin American soldiers, police, and government officials, many of whom return to their countries to perpetrate various human rights abuses. Dan and Doris, along with Nick Cardell and other Syracuse residents paid a huge price in the past for their witness there, even by serving a six month jail term.

May Memorial members and leaders actually have a long history of heroic acts in the name of social justice. This began with our direct ancestors in the 1830s who braved isolation, hostility, social ostracism, and even persecution to start our religious home in Syracuse. Our many ministers, too, have been courageous leaders for social justice issues. To name a few, Sam May quickly comes to mind for his work with anti-slavery, anti-capital punishment, women’s rights, peace, and educational issues just to name a few of his many accomplishments. We also should not forget Rev. Calthrop and his advocacy for the Syracuse Boy’s Club, Rev. Argow and his work with public health and housing, Rev. Applebee and his work with the Red Cross during WWI, Rev. Fuller and his work in civil rights, and Rev. Cardell and Rev. Strong’s work with Planned Parenthood.

But it has been our many church wide efforts that have marked May Memorial as an institution dedicated to social justice. Our various women’s groups over the years have provided playground equipment for Onondaga County orphans, bought and distributed milk for undernourished children in the schools, provided reading and social rooms for unemployed people during the depression, given financial support to a residence for elderly women, created a USO-type social environment for soldiers being trained at the State Fair Grounds during WWII, fed lunches to children whose mothers were working during that same war, and collected food and clothing for European relief soon after its end. More recently, our sanctuary efforts some two decades ago during El Salvador’s horrendous history of abuse, our ongoing homeless and hungry efforts through the collection of food and other items, and our preparation of meals at St. Paul’s church serve as examples of that continuing social justice commitment.

There actually is not room enough in this short article to give all the credit that is due to the May Memorial people who have devoted countless hours and many dollars to such important issues. You can read more about this devotion and why it is easy to take pride in this church for its ongoing social justice history by reading through /backwardglance.html and /stranger.html . So “tip your hat” to Dan, Doris, Dick, Sam, Phil, and Donna the next time you see them and say thanks as fine representatives of our great social justice heritage.           Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

            19. (12/4/06) Barbara Mihalas recently pointed out to me a great UU web site for church history buffs, the dictionary of UU biography: . There is a great Sam May biography there. I’ve now been asked to write one on Sam Calthrop and may do others later. Speaking of web resources, an 1885 booklet devoted to the October 20, 1885, James St. church dedication is now online. It makes for some great reading. See especially the sermon by Sam May’s son, Rev. Joseph May. It is a classic. This booklet is on the backup server ( /maychurch.html ), but eventually will become part of our church web site.

I recently interviewed Hank Manwell as part of the History Committee’s efforts to talk with long time May Memorial members so we can learn more about our church history. We hope to make several interviews available online some time in the future and they will serve as an important archival resource so current and future May Memorial members can better understand our past. It was a delightful interview and I gained much new information. Some of what I learned will appear in later newsletters and it triggered the heart of this article. We are looking for other volunteer interviewers; we will do the training and supply the digital recorder.

I’ve long been intrigued with the years of service given to May Memorial by Hank’s parents, Dr. Elizabeth Manwell, our DRE from 1935-1949, and Dr. Reginald Manwell. Hank provided great first hand knowledge of their long term involvement with our youth. See May No One Be A Stranger ( /stranger.html ) to find out more about their impact on the church.

Reginald, for example, wrote with Sophia Lyon Fahs the classic Beacon curriculum text The Church Across the Street (Beacon Press, 1947; a revised edition was published in 1962). Reginald’s work was based on his May Memorial church school classes that studied other religious groups and visited many different congregations in the city. A wonderful scrapbook in our archives captures the work that he and various young people did during the 1940-1941 year learning about numerous churches. During then they visited and studied such Syracuse religious institutions as Jewish temples, a Russian Orthodox church, a Catholic cathedral, a Lutheran church, an Episcopal church, a Presbyterian church, a Congregational church, a Methodist church, a Baptist church, a Christian Scientist church, and the Society of Friends. I can only imagine the knowledge and memories taken away by the young people in Syracuse and around the country exposed to this curriculum and certainly envy their experiences. This paragraph can best be ended by paying tribute to all the people in May’s history from the 1830s right up through today who have given of their time and talent serving the youth of our church. We owe them much.     Rog Hiemstra, Archivist

20. (12/30/06) I am very happy to report that the repaired Sam May marble tablet now resides on our outside west wall overlooking the Memorial Garden. It is so beautiful and takes your breathe away when you think that it first adorned our James Street church wall in 1885. When Jill Evans and I first saw it on December 17 sitting in a protective cradle built by Dale Sherman while the silicone epoxy was drying, it was truly an emotional moment. Professor DeRutte did a marvelous job and thanks to those who helped in various ways, especially in mounting it at its final resting place. Give Dale a big thanks when next you see him for all the volunteer hours he put into its restoration and step down to the Memorial Garden and see this true work of art.

In keeping with our tablet’s history, in the archives is a collection of moving memories about the James Street church. Back in the very early 1960s, a committee headed by a Mrs. Kenneth Kindelsperger and a Polly Lape, asked a number of current or former members of the Women’s Alliance, a very active group at May Memorial for many years, to reminiscence about the church. The decision had already been made to build a new church and they decided it was important to gather some recollections. We are indebted to their insightfulness. This newsletter piece and at least the next one will report some of these nuggets. For example, Florida Tracy remembers how in the 20s and 30s special collections were taken during Sunday services to meet the needs of several community charities that we having tough financial times because of the depression. She also remembered Mrs. Bigelow, a stately older women, from one of the wealthy Syracuse families, who wore small bonnets tied with a velvety ribbon under her chin, basque [corset shaped] fitting dresses, with billowy skirts. Mrs. Bigelow had told Florida that she remembered making lemonade as a little girl for the annual picnic day that the Unitarians held for lower income children. [We were doing our social justice in many ways a century ago.]

Helen Eager, who was two years old in 1885 when the James Street church was dedicated, remembered her grandmother telling about the very early days of the church when Sunday meetings were sometimes held in cellars and in secret because the negative feelings toward Unitarians in Syracuse were so intense. Helen also remembers the last day of Sunday School each year as being very special. The children would bring in wild flowers and those they picked from parents’ gardens for decoration. Yards of daisy chains also were hung and the church always looked very lovely. Finally, in May No One Be A Stranger, Jean (see elsewhere the sad news about Jean Hoefer’s death from an auto accident) and Irene talked about the memorial tree tradition that was started by Nick Cardell (p. 51, /stranger.html ). In the early 1900s we had another “tree” tradition, the Mitten Tree, where mittens and other warm clothing were hung on a tree and later donated to people in need. This tradition even carried over into our current church. It has been fun peaking in on these great memories and more will be shared later.              Rog Hiemstra, Archivist



Document 9


History Committee, Second Meeting Minutes, May 17, 2006


History Committee Minutes

May 17, 2006 Meeting


Present: Roger Hiemstra, Chair

       George Adams

       June Card

       Mary Louise Edwards

       Frank Healy

       Harsey Leonard


Agenda Items:


1.  Electing a vice-chair and a recorder.


Unanimously voted to make Harsey Leonard vice-chair. Mary Louise Edwards agreed to take notes and George Adams or Frank Healy will type them up.


2.  Status Report on any work activities.


  • Discussed location of insurance papers that are temporarily missing. Building information must be kept at the church, and not submitted to Syracuse University. We need to watch for folders having to do with the church building as we go through the files. Building information is now in the top drawer of file 5. (I have arbitrarily numbered files, looking at wall, starting at right, 1-4 with file 5 opposite at the wall and file 6 the fireproof file - George.)
  • June – There is very little file information from Scott Taylor’s era. Perhaps Ellen Fuller has them, as she has some boxes from Scott’s era. Not much information is in computer room files from either the Cardell or Taylor eras. This summer Roger and Barbara Mihalas will attempt to gather historical information in other parts of the church or in people’s home and get it into one place. We need to have a system to organize new historical material as it is being produced.
  • Harsey – Found and digitized 54 slides taken by Larry Gould during construction of the current church building from September 1963 to September 1964. He has sorted, cleaned, digitized them and put them on CDs (JPG files). The slides were well marked and came with a list – other batches of slides may not be as easy to identify. One CD will be put in the Fuller box, the other with Roger. Harsey can make more copies from his hard drive if needed.
  • Mary Louise - Working with Zoerheide box; will start in June with archival quality materials.
  • George - Went through the top two drawers of file 1. This was originally all RE material but Orders of Service and Newsletters have been piled in back of these drawers. Sometime these items in back of the drawers should be organized and inventoried. The material in the front of the drawers is all RE related folders and notebooks. Some interesting gems: A Sunday School prospectus from 1916/17 and a thick file of papers from the Jefferson Club – a teenage group that wrote many poems and prose items during the Vietnam era.
  • Roger’s long term vision – To advertise our unique history – make this a resource for others to use – alert scholars about such resources as the Jefferson Club, RE, Women’s Alliance, our ministers, etc. Set up procedures so others can use our historical materials.
  • Frank – Perhaps develop a time line, with church, world events etc. Frank has been researching data bases – checking out models for this (e.g. ABC Ontology software models) to help us track artifacts. Harsey suggested checking with UUSC or UUA for models – some churches may have already obtained software to deal with church history. Roger suggested that the Sam May Anti-Slavery Collection at Cornell may be a useful model.


3.  History Committee Annual Report


The committee gave Roger feedback on the report. All feedback is due by May 19 (Friday). Jean Hoefer, Joyce Ball, Dorothy Ashley, and Charlie and Dorothy Jorgensen interviews need to be transferred to a digital format.


4.  Developing an idea for a permanent "history" display case.


Good idea, we agreed. Some questions to consider: Where?  Light?  Humidity?


5.  Developing a permanent photo display of past church ministers.


John Marsh’s idea originally. Bob Burdick and Roger are working together to place 5" x 7" B&W pictures of each minister. (A decision on whether Interims and Associate ministers will be included will be made at a later date.) They may be hung in the Memorial Room or on a hallway wall. This is currently on hold until a new BOT is in place. Roger also found the names of all past award winners. A working plan is to find a way to display them on a permanent basis.


6.  Repair and display of Sam May marble tablet.


In the hands of the Memorial Garden Committee now; they need to find a good spot for it, make recommendations to the Board, and, hopefully, it will be voted on at the 2006 Annual Meeting. However, Frank noted that he heard there was considerable disagreement on the location possibilities so we need to be prepared for that.


7.  Rededication service for the tablet.


In the Fall? Depends on what is decided.


8.  Review MMUUS building construction files.


Covered in Item 2.


9.  Developing criteria for what goes in the fireproof file drawers.


Vital Church records: Irreplaceable construction files, blue prints, insurance policies, financial records, etc. Make notes as we go through files and materials as to what is "irreplaceable."


NOTE: Call/email Roger with any other suggestions regarding the annual report and the names of other people to interview once a digital recorder is purchased, perhaps in coordination with the Public Relations Committee.


Recorded by Mary Louise Edwards and typed by George Adams, May 17, 2006.



Document 10


History Committee

Annual Report Fiscal Year 2006

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society

May 31, 2006


Although considerable MMUUS historical preservation activities took place up until the mid-90s, most activities stopped by 1998. Current activities did not begin in earnest until late fall, 2005, when I was given authority to begin work as volunteer church archivist. Thus, this report represents only about 7 months of involvement by me and members of the History Committee. An ongoing portrayal of many of the subsequent activities can be found at /archives2005-2006.html .


New York State Convention of Universalists

                A proposal for funding to assist with our preservation activities was submitted in December. We were awarded a one-year grant of $3200 in February, 2006. The primary objectives of that grant are to better preserve the material stored at MMUUS, prepare additional material for submission to Syracuse University, develop procedures for future collection and preservation of historical material, repair and mounting of the Sam May marble tablet, and spreading the word about our church history.


History Committee

            A history committee comprised of George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Healy, Roger Hiemstra, and Harsey Leonard was formed in March. We have met twice, developed a description of committee responsibilities for the operating manual, assumed various work responsibilities, and begun work on these tasks. June Card, who was involved with archival activities in the mid-nineties, is providing invaluable advice and support.


Preservations Activities

            All historical material have been moved from the furnace and memorial rooms to locked file cabinets or on top of them in the computer room. Inventorying and organizational activities are underway by George Adams and Mary Louise Edwards, as well as the digitization of various media sources by Harsey Leonard. We also are identifying the location of additional historical material in the church building and other places.

A number of preservation materials/supplies have been purchased. I have received some training in preservation techniques, will train other committee members relative to what I have learned, and we will begin improved preservation activities over the next several months. In addition, an organizational database for identifying and locating the various historical material is being developed by Frank Healy.


Digitization Activities

            An important process has been determining various ways to digitize our historical information for long-term storage. For example, Bob Burdick digitally photographed the entire membership book. I have digitally photographed selected material stored at Syracuse University, experimented with scanning for OCR or PDF file conversion selected historical material, and placed some digitized material on the Web. I also digitized and placed on the Web material created in the 1970s by the Central New York Genealogy Society that involved copying, indexing, and typing material on the first hundred years (1838-1937) of May Memorial membership. We also have begun the process of interviewing and digitally recording past and current church members with a long-term institutional memory of MMUUS.

Finally, I have begun digitizing and adding to the Web various other information related to our ministers, church leaders, award winners, church buildings, and supporting documents. See ,  /archives2005-2006.html , and /simulationpage.html for a display of such efforts. Irene Blakeslee is digitizing a master’s thesis about Sam May that will be added to his web page. [Note: As of September 1 the digitization process has been completed. The thesis, a photo of Dr. Covert, and her bio will be added to the web page soon.]


Web Page Efforts

            In 2002, at the request of Rev. Scott Taylor, I developed a web page on Sam May ( Since November I have created additional material for that page and it is being added soon. I also created considerable material related to the history of the church that eventually will be incorporated within our regular church web page. It temporarily can be viewed at /simulationpage.html . [Note: as of September 1, the simulation page material is not accessible directly through our web page.] It is our intent to continue adding historical material to our web page as a means for preservation, providing information to interested scholars, and interesting current and prospective members on the value of MMUUS history to the community and region. For example, I recently learned about two sermons on Sam May, each delivered around the country by Rev. Rick Davis, UU minister in Salem, Oregon. He is sending them to me for inclusion on our web page. As Rick said to me in a recent email: “I think he is one of the great souls in our heritage and unjustly neglected.”


Improving Awareness

            A number of activities have been initiated or are being planned to enhance awareness about MMUUS’ interesting history.

·        Material is now published in our newsletter under a “Marvelous History Corner” heading, three history displays were shown in the Social Hall (January, February, and March) after a Sunday Service, with more anticipated later or a permanent display area created

·        Information on past MMUUS presidents and various annual award winners is being displayed temporarily on a church bulletin board (permanent displays for this information and photos of past ministers are planned for the near future)

·        I presented information on Sam May and our archival efforts at the annual St. Lawrence Assembly held April 28-29 in Geneva, NY – I will be presenting more information on our preservation efforts at the New York State Convention of Universalists annual conference in Albany this coming October

·        Information regarding our various historical collections will be disseminated later this year to potential scholars in seminaries, university departments of religion, and others who might be interested in carrying out historical research related to MMUUS


Our Needs

            Although considerable activity has taken place during the past several months, much more needs to be done to ensure we understand our history, preserve it, and prepare for future preservations efforts. In that regard, we need help. Some of this work can be done in only a very few hours. The reward is pure satisfaction. Consider volunteering! Here are some of those needs:

1.      Word processing various documents intended for digital preservation and/or placement on the web page, including membership information from 1938-2005 (see /members1st100yrs.html for the first 100 years)

2.      Interviewing with a digital tape recorder current and past long-term MMUUS members regarding their church memories

3.      Help with selected historical preservation activities

4.      Carry out historical scholarship related to MMUUS and create newsletter articles, church stories, or scholarly articles.

Respectfully submitted, Rog Hiemstra, Archivist



Document 11


Fourth Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities – June 3, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed since April 30, 2006:


1.      The History Committee (myself, George Adams, June Card, Mary Louise Edwards, Frank Healey, and Harsey Leonard) had our second meeting on May 17. We elected a vice-chair and recorder, talked about preservation and sorting procedures, finalized the annual report, and talked about various future activities. The meeting minutes are on-line.

2.      The annual report to be used for the annual meeting handout was finalized and submitted to Barbara Mihalas.

3.      I continued submitting a "Marvelous History Corner" column for the church newsletter.

4.      Work by individual committee members on preservation and database activities has begun.

5.      Representatives from the Memorial Garden, Buildings and Grounds, and History Committee met with Mr. Neil James, President of Hayes Monuments, regarding creating a permanent display of the Sam May marble tablet on the outside southwest wall of the church. Final approval will be sought during the next Program Council meeting and a presentation made at the annual meeting.

6.      Most History Committee members will participate in a training session that I will conduct later in June on proper procedures for preserving historical materials.

7.      A digital recorder will be purchased during June and at least Mary Louise Edwards and I will begin the process of interviewing long-term members to obtain their insights into and remembrances of the church’s history.

8.      I found video tapes for most of the people who were involved in a History and Legends project about a decade ago in which Liz Strong and some other were involved. These include interviews of or presentations by Dorothy Ashley, Joyce Ball, Jean Hoefer, Dorothy and Charlie Jorgensen, and John Papindrew. Only the one involving Nick Cardell is still missing and I continue to search for its whereabouts. These video tapes eventually will be converted to DVDs for long term storage.

9.      Two of the publications about Sam May written by Dr. Catherine Covert Stepanek have been placed on the Sam May web page.

10.  I discovered that Rev. Richard (Rick) R. Davis, First Unitarian Society of Salem (Oregon) has a couple of sermons about Sam May that he delivers around the country. I contacted him and he sent them to me with permission to include them on our web page. This now has been done and they, and the two papers by Dr. Stepanek, make for wonderful reading.

11.  Finally, I have started keeping a digital record of most History Committee activities for both posterity and organizational transparency purposes. This can be viewed at /archives2005-2006.html    Rog Hiemstra, Archivist




Document 12


Fifth Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities – Summer, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed during the summer of 2006:


  1. I continue writing a "Marvelous History Corner" column for the church newsletter (copies of all newsletter pieces plus other items mentioned in this update can be seen on the organizational transparency web site: /archives2005-2006.html ).
  2. Work by individual committee members on preservation continued throughout the summer:
    1. A training session was conducted on how to remove acid from documents, what to do with photographs, and how to deal with paper clipped and stapled material
    2. George Adams worked on an inventory of the archival material; Harsey Leonard carried out the improvement and preservation of various archival media; Mary Louise Edwards and Rog Hiemstra began the preservation of material related to Robert Zoerheide and John Fuller that will be transferred to the Syracuse University Library this fall
    3. Additional preservation supplies were purchased and are stored in the computer room
  3. Additional archival material was obtained from a past church president, Jennifer’s office, and past Worship Committee members. In addition, I have made initial arrangements with Malcolm Clark to accept into the archives older church financial records.
  4. Another file cabinet (a wide one for scrapbooks, sorting, etc.) was obtained for the computer room (it was donated by Mary Louise Edwards) and multiple keys made.
  5. Information pertaining to the Mary-Lib Whitney Award for Special Contributions to Religious Education was updated and the plaque redone. It now resides outside the office of Jennifer Hamlin-Navias, Director of Religious Education.
  6. Mary Louise Edwards and Rog Hiemstra familiarized themselves with the new digital recorder and practiced their interviewing skills. With the assistance of the History Committee, a permission form was finalized and a list of potential interviewees developed. Interviewing of these people will begin in the fall.
  7. A piece on the history of MMUUS was developed for potential inclusion in the search committee packet (see: /archives2005-2006.html ). In addition, some older financial information was found in the archives and supplied to Malcolm Clark who is developing related information for the packet.
  8. An excellent master’s thesis related to Sam May’s work in education was written by Catherine Covert. It was word processed by Irene Blakeslee and will be added to the church web page very soon. In addition, In Memoriam. Samuel Joseph May, a booklet written after Rev. May’ death, is being scanned and will be added to the web page in the fall.
  9. Both the Sam May link and “Our History” link on the church web page have been revised to reflect the work I have done during the past several months.
  10. Bob Burdick created a spiral bound facsimile “Membership Book” based on the digital photography work he did earlier in the year. It is now available through the church office for viewing by interested people.
  11. Work to build a frame for the Sam May tablet that will then be mounted on the outside wall facing the new pavilion will begin soon. An October 1 rededication service is being planned.
  12. I will be co-leading a hands-on preservation workshop at the New York State Convention of Universalists annual meeting in Albany on October 7. In addition, I may facilitate an adult education study group this fall related to the church’s history.   Rog Hiemstra, Archivist


September 7, 2006



Document 13


Interviewing Information


Mary Louise Edwards and Rog Hiemstra are spearheading efforts to interview older and past members of MMUUS regarding their recollections on the church and its history. A digital recorder has been purchased and both Mary Louise and Rog have practiced using it. They also developed a set of interview questions (the History Committee provided feedback) that will serve as a guide for future interviewing, a permission form to be signed by interviewees (the History Committed provided feedback), and a list of potential interviewees. All three documents are included below.


Interview Questions:


Please begin by saying who you are and where and when you were born.


Tell me about your family background. Where did your family come from?


Where did you attend church when you were a child?


What are your first memories of church life? Describe a typical Sunday at church when you were young.


Did you attend "Sunday school? If so, what was that like (e.g., activities/ projects)?


If you were not brought up as a Unitarian/Universalist, what brought you to the UU church?


When did you come to our church? How old were you?


Who was the minister at that time?


What do you most remember about him?


Tell me a little about the other ministers and also lay leaders that you remember.


What were some memorable events in the life of the church in your early years here: RE, social events, things related to a minister, certain problems or challenges, social action activities, etc.?


Were you here when our current church was built?


If so, please tell me about that; what kinds of things stand out in your memory?


What positions of leadership have you held in the church?


In what sorts of church-related activities and organizations have you been involved?


Why are you a Unitarian-Universalist? What makes the UU religion different from others?


In your experience, what have been the significant events – good and bad – in the life and history of the church?


How do you feel the church has changed in the years you have been a member?


What are your hopes for the future of MMUUS? Do you have specific suggestions?




Permission Form:



Syracuse, New York




As a member, past member, or friend of May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, I hereby agree to be interviewed and audio recorded by the History Committee as part of their effort to preserve personal recollections of important events in the history of the church. Further, I give permission for all or part of the interview to be used by the History Committee for instructional or informational purposes, for example, on the church website, in written descriptions, or in historical displays.


Date:  _____________________


Name (printed):  ______________________________________________________


Signature:  __________________________________________________________


Address:  ____________________________________________________________


Phone number:  _____________________   e-mail: ___________________________


Name of Interviewer (printed): ____________________________________________ 


Signature of Interviewer: _________________________________________________



Alternatively, you may use my information and voice as noted above, but I do not want my name used in reporting/reproducing my interview:


Name (printed):  ______________________________________________________


 Signature:  __________________________________________________________


Potential Interviewees:


Initial Interviewee Information

(An Asterisk * Suggest Those We Interview First)


Doug and Geri Aird

David and Helen Ashley

Mary Barduhn

Bob and Mary Burdick

June and Howard Card

Cathy Cardell

Malcolm and Bev Clark

Pat Corson

Bob and Norma Coye

Jill Evans

Betsy Fuller*

Hank and Sally Manwell

Bob Marshall*

Helen and Al Obrist*

Dan and Doris Sage

Ernie Sibert

Hildegarde Vandersluis*


Those who have already been interviewed:


Dorothy Ashley

Joyce Ball

Jean Hoefer

Verah Johnson

Dorothy and Charlie Jorgensen


Other possible interviewees:


Howland Auchincloss*

Mildred and John Capozzi*

Pauline and David Murray*

Roger Thielking

Jack Wilkinson



Document 14


Preservation Training


Having attended a preservation workshop sponsored by the Onondaga Public Library and studied some preservation resources, Rog Hiemstra conducted a preservation training session for members of the History Committee on June 15, 2006. Based on some questions that arose during that session, he obtained additional information that was emailed to Committee members.


MMUUS Preservation Training - June 15, 2006


Assessing Paper Condition


Much of the paper made from the 1850s forward has been made from wood pulp and various additives. Unfortunately, wood pulp contains lignin which is highly acidic, and it tends to migrate out into the rest of the product over time creating acidic paper. The result is a product that begins to lose its flexibility and become brittle and eventually unusable.


  • Deterioration causes - acid, adhesives, heat, humidity, light, moisture, plastics, pollutants, pests, and rust (usually from paper clips or staples)
    • Removing paper clips and staples if needed
    • Seldom possible to remove adhesive materials
  • Acid testing with pH Testing Pen (yellow/brown vs. purple colors)
    • Using judgment
    • Spot testing most likely scenario
  • Polypropylene protection


Improving/Protecting Paper


  • Neutralizing acidic paper with Bookkeeper Deacidification aerosol spray (caution: Contains Magnesium Oxide so use gloves and newspaper as spraying)
    • Lightly spray on both sides and dry over raised item or by placing on acid free paper (don’t dry it by placing it on newspaper)
    • Spot retesting with pH pen
  • Use covered paper clips for reattaching sets, but use acid free “squares” as “top” protectors
  • If absolutely necessary, use the acid-free attach tape for rips or other problems
  • For delicate, fragile, or ancient paper, also separate by acid free paper dividers
  • Place most items in an acid free folder (use your judgment on how many items per folder)


Working with Newspaper Articles


Unfortunately, newspapers are made of highly acidic newsprint, a low-cost, low-quality, and non-archival paper product. It deteriorates much more quickly than other paper, typically yellowing and/or crumbling with age.


  • Deacidification with the spray is probable, but take care in not making it too moist (handling old newspaper material typically is difficult)
  • Storage in acid free folders and interleaved with the acid-free paper usually is a must
  • Digitization (digital photographs or optical scanning) may be the better option for key items


Working with Photos


The same rules which apply for long-term storage of paper documents generally apply to photos, except the deacidification spray should not be used.

  • Use the polypropylene sleeves for smaller photos
  • Use the polypropylene roll for larger photos, cut to size, and secure with acid-free attach tape
  • We need to talk about existing photo albums (photos can be removed or cut away)


Identifying and Recording Information


  • Use acid-free strip pressure labels on folder labeling strips
  • Use a simple and logical numbering system by ministerial era, organization, activity, etc. for identifying the folders (we will discuss some possibilities)
  • Be as descriptive as possible or necessary
    • Record the information for inventorying purposes
    • Remember that what we record becomes a finding aid for others
    • Our information eventually goes into a database
  • Hand printing the descriptive information on each label makes the most sense, but remember to be LEGIBLE




  • We need a good overall inventory and description for a database and as finding aid information
  • We need a procedure for compiling/sorting/identifying sermons, newsletters, etc.
  • We need to develop a protocol for deciding what to keep, what to discard, and what needs to automatically be sent to the History Committee by church volunteers leaders and paid staff
  • We need a policy on what goes to Syracuse University and what stays at May Memorial
  • We need a long-term strategy on electronic preservation


Addition Preservation Training Information


I did a little research and found out some more information regarding the use of pens vs. pencils and those labels.

            The suggestion is to not use those stick on labels as the main labeling technique. They are great initially, but can begin to loose their adhesion and even fall off after a decade or so. The best thing is to (a) print the needed information right on the acid free folder tabs with an acid free pen (I will purchase them soon); (b) use the labels for the polypropylene photo inserts or polypropylene sheets for the larger photographs. However, for (b) after you have printed information on the labels with the acid free pen, and fastened them to the polypropylene, then cover them with the acid free adhesive tape as extra protection and cover with enough tape so that the tape extends over the label a quarter inch or so on all sides to provide additional adhesion to the polypropylene.

            For everything that goes in folders (including the protected photos), we simply need to make sure that there is adequate description on the table of contents sheet (finding aid) that will eventually be typed and placed at the front of a box going to Syracuse University or at the front of a file drawer once we have everything inventoried and organized in a file drawer. For example, regarding photos the descriptive information should include a brief description of the photograph -- for example, the first photograph in folder 14 shows three men and two women standing outside the church looking at the Sam May Tablet taken 7/28/2006 -- in case the label would fall of in two or three decades when we most likely won't be around. Of course, those finding aids will be on acid free paper and in an acid free folder. If this is not yet clear, give me a call or we can do reply alls and do more dialogue via email.

            Also in talking to the preservation expert, here is another thing I think we should do. If we have crucial but old and deteriorating documents, we should photocopy (or scan and create PDF or jpg files -- I am thinking of buying a scanner that can be left in the church either out of my current budget if there is money left over or in applying for additional money next year) the material onto acid free paper. The same thing with all photos that will be going to SU or really important photos that we simply don't want handled even if they are in polypropylene. Then we keep the "copy" out and available for researchers (church members and people from outside) and place the valuable document, probably deacidified and certainly in polypropylene if a photo, if appropriate, and in acid free folders, either in the fire protected drawer and severely restrict its use or in the boxes that go to SU. If the latter, I think we also should keep a copy of everything from now on that goes to SU. I will appreciate your thoughts on my thinking in this paragraph.    Rog



Document 15


Mary Lib Whitney Award Plaque


A plaque that had been developed a few years ago relative to the Mary Lib Whitney annual award was updated and presented to Jennifer Hamlin-Navias, Director of Religious Education. The plaque now resides outside her office door. A facsimile of the contents of the plaque are shown below:


Mary-Lib Whitney Award


Special Contributions to Religious Education

Established 1991 - 1992 by the Religious Education Council


May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society


1991 – 1992                                         1996 – 1997                                        2001 – 2002

Mary Lib Whitney                         B. J. Newsome Rubel                       Joy Casey

Kathy Haendle


1992 – 1993                                        1997 – 1998                                        2002 – 2003

Elberta Gardner                             Kevin King                                        Annegret Schuber

Lisa Obrist                                                                                                    Evan Longo

Ken Pease


1993 – 1994                                        1998 – 1999                                        2003 – 2004

Pete Haendle                                   Bill Kates                                           Jackie Clarke

Ellyn Lentz                                                                                                    Melissa Cohen


1994 – 1995                                        1999 – 2000                                        2004 - 2005

Julie Daniel                                       Theresa Brigandi                             Stephanie Cross

                                                                                                                        Jessica Bellini


1995 – 1996                                        2000 – 2001                                        2005 – 2006

Linda Wobus                                    Le Ann McKinney                          Julianna Hosmer

                                                                                                                        Rachel Woods



Document 16


MMUUS History Statement


Rog Hiemstra was asked to develop a statement on the history of the church as potential material to be inserted in a search committee packet for potential viewing by interested candidates. The information is shown below.


MMUUS History*


The early history of the Unitarian Society in Syracuse is fascinating. In the early part of the nineteenth century families with a Unitarian background began moving to the Syracuse area as the country expanded west. The Syracuse village at that time was dominated by Calvinists. For example, the First Presbyterian Church was prominent, Presbyterian principles ruled the village, and most community leaders were Presbyterian. Our early Unitarian progenitors were determined to establish a church community in spite of the opposition and even persecution they faced. Fortunately, they were strong, courageous, and believed firmly in their faith.

            In 1836 and 1837 as members of this burgeoning church community constantly requested help from Unitarian leaders back east, a few Unitarian ministers would occasionally stop on Sunday to preach but such visits were rare. The services were held sometimes in homes, sometimes in an unoccupied schoolhouse, and, occasionally, in the old Baptist Church on West Genesee Street. In this way the few members were privileged to hear such prominent New Englanders as Rev. Allen, Rev. Barrett, and Rev. Channing. After two years of these intermittent services a meeting was held in Dr. Mayo's Church Street schoolhouse on October 4, 1838, for the purpose of organizing. Dr. Hiram Hoyt and Stephen Abbott presided; Elisha Walter, Joel Owen, and Stephen Abbott were elected Trustees. The proceedings were legally recorded in the office of the County Clerk on January 2, 1839, thus completing the organizational efforts.

            Immediately after these first steps toward organization had been taken, a subscription was begun for the building of a wooden church, some referred to it as a chapel, on East Genesee Street. The building, which cost $607, was completed and ready for use in January, 1839. Eastern ministers, among who were B. F. Barrett, Rufus Ellis, J. M. Merrick, and George Ripley, were sent here by the American Unitarian Association to serve from four to six Sundays each. The last of this group was Rev. John P. B. Storer of Walpole, Mass. Mr. Storer was so well liked that a committee, headed by Captain Hiram Putnam, was instructed to invite him to become the first regular minister of the Unitarian Congregational Society of Syracuse. Mr. Storer accepted and was installed on June 20, 1839, in the First Methodist Church which had been generously offered for that purpose.

            At the beginning of Mr. Storer's ministry the largest attendance at the church was about forty. However, even in spite of the bitter community opposition to Unitarianism, membership in the society increased to such a number that the church building became too small. In August, 1840, a committee composed of Parley Bassett, William Malcolm, Captain Putnam, Thomas Spencer, and John Wilkinson was appointed to select and purchase a lot upon which a bigger building could be erected. This group recommended the purchase for $1,000 of two lots on Burnett and Lock Streets (State Street). On December 27, 1842, another committee, which included the trustees, was instructed to have plans drawn for the structure. This was done, and the contract, signed on June 12, 1843, called for the work to be finished by January, 1844. However, the church was completed ahead of schedule, and was dedicated as the Church of the Messiah on November 23, 1843. The building cost $5,000, about $1,800 of which was solicited by Mr. Storer from friends in New England. It is interesting to note that several contributions to the building fund were from people belonging to other denominations.

            During these developments and even much later these faithful Unitarians met with continued bitterness and intolerance within the Syracuse community. However, a group of young men did "brave the Storm and Sneers of Orthodoxy" and join the Society. Social ostracism was so strong that few young women could face it. The Unitarian views were caricatured by the Orthodox preachers; as one of our early members, Mr. Charles Williston wrote in a letter, "Revivalists found plenty of material for their nightly sermon tirades." He continued, "The notorious Elder Knapp used the Baptist Pulpit almost nightly for weeks in denouncing the Unitarian 'Devils' as he called us, at the same time asked pardon of 'Old Satan' for slandering him in that manner." However, as the number of families who joined the Society increased, a larger group of young people attended church and the social activities, thus building up a new generation to carry on the work of the founders.


Shortly after the dedication of the Church of the Messiah, it was necessary for Mr. Storer to resign because of failing health. Not willing to accept his resignation, the congregation gave him an unlimited leave of absence, beginning on Saturday, March 16, 1844. Sadly, he died the following Sunday, "thus ending a short but eventful Pastorate which had under trying circumstances formed and molded into form a living Society of the Liberal Faith in Syracuse. Outside of the circle of Orthodoxy few men could have accomplished the work which Mr. Storer did and yet have maintained such a hold upon the respect, regard, and esteem of the Community in Syracuse and its vicinity."

            Between 1838 and 1911, our formative years, the church was served by only three ministers, Rev. John P. B. Storer, Rev. Samuel Joseph May, and Rev. Dr. Samuel Robert Calthrop. For information on these ministers and those who followed, see / simulationpage.html, In addition, examine and click on the history and Samuel J. May links for more information.

            Over the next 50 years, lead by five ministers, the congregation grew to over 500 members, with 270 children enrolled in the RE program. The Church of the Messiah was enlarged in 1850, destroyed in an 1852 hurricane, and rebuilt and rededicated in 1853. Continued growth resulted in the construction of a new church, The May Memorial Church, on James Street. It was completed in 1885. Continued growth required an even bigger church and in the fall of 1964 we moved into our current building on East Genesee St., a structure planned with great care to reflect the congregation's aesthetic and philosophical beliefs. The sanctuary is a simple, visually harmonious space, free of doctrinal or architectural distractions, a space quiet and empty enough to encourage awareness of the inner life. The lectern is movable, neither fixed nor "on high." The choir loft is large and the Holtcamp organ excellent, supporting the congregation's love of music.

            Two strong traditions are evident in May Memorial's history: (a) those of active, liberal, and sometimes controversial participation in social and political events, and (b) the promotion of enlightened education, both public and religious. Over the years, May Memorial ministers and members have led the way. For example, Samuel Joseph May helped break a slave out of a Syracuse jail, John Applebee took a leave to serve with the Red Cross overseas during WWI, and John Fuller marched in Selma. The church worked with new soldier recruits stationed in Syracuse during WWI, fed hungry children during weekday noon hours in the middle part of the last century, and contributed to organizations such as Planned Parenthood and its forerunner. It supported the first program in the Syracuse public schools for handicapped students. In the 1940's, three members, Elizabeth Manwell, Reginald Manwell, and Josephine Gould authored nationally recognized RE curricula and texts through the American Unitarian Association.

            Rev. Nick Cardell inspired the congregation to become a sanctuary church for Central American refugees in 1981 that resulted in May Memorial's commitment to the Sanctuary movement. This led to a December, 1983, congregational vote to offer temporary sanctuary to an El Salvadoran refugee and then in October, 1984, a young refugee couple from El Salvador lived for two weeks at May Memorial, sharing their experiences of war and political persecution and they also spoke before audiences at many other churches and religious organizations. In the late 1990s, Reverend Cardell, and members Ann Tiffany, Dan Sage, and Doris Sage served six months in jail for protesting the activities of the School of the Americas.

            May Memorial also supports community groups such as Peace Action, Planned Parenthood, gay rights groups, and the ACLU. Over the years the congregation has had varying degrees of involvement with our sister congregation, First Universalist Society of Syracuse, and with Syracuse University, at times being active in campus ministry and in work with ministerial interns.

            With a present membership of 250, we are a vital community of individualists with varied ideas about what should be the mission of May Memorial. However, we work constantly to fine tune our administrative structure, honor our heritage, and prepare for the future. With two years associating with two excellent interim ministers and one more planned with the second interim minister, we are at a point of change but looking to that future optimistically. Like many churches today, we must work hard and diligently to maintain financial health. We love our building but as it begins to approach its fiftieth birthday we also must work diligently to maintain its vitality. Membership has declined somewhat during these transition times, but we are optimistic our numbers will grow as we move to a next stage of stability. One thing is sure, our commitment to liberal religion continues. We all understand the vital role May Memorial plays in our community and look forward to enhancing that role in every way we can.



*Information extracted from the following sources:

Hoefer, Jean M. and Baros-Johnson, Irene. (1988). May no one be a stranger: 150 years of Unitarian presence in Syracuse. Syracuse, NY May Memorial Unitarian Society. Retrieved December 1/stranger.html

MMUUS Archive Materials at Syracuse University Library (a finding aid). (2006). Retrieved May 20, 2006, from

Saddington, Helen and Walsh, Elizabeth. (1938). A backward glance o’er traveled roads: Being an historical sketch of May Memorial Church (Unitarian Congregational Society in Syracuse) on the occasion of its centennial anniversary, 1838-1938. Syracuse, NY: May Memorial Unitarian Society. Retrieved May 20, 2006, from /backwardglance.html

Stepanek, Catherine Covert. (1972, February 13). The remarkable Mr. May. Address presented at May Memorial Unitarian Society. Retrieved May 20, 2006, from /remarkable.html


Roger Hiemstra, MMUUS Archivist, November 10, 2006



Document 17


Sam May Tablet Rededication


Plans are underway for a rededication of the Sam May marble tablet on October 1. Initial information related to this effort was presented at the annual meeting. A photo was also distributed at the meeting visually portraying what the mounted tablet might look like.


The Sam May Marble Tablet’s Future Home


The photo included with this description portrays the marble tablet memorial to Rev. Samuel J. May that hung below the Stained Glass window also devoted to Rev. May. Both were in the old James Street church. The tablet was removed, unfortunately broken in the process, as the church was being razed. It was stored in the Onondaga Historical Society’s research building, not logged in, and forgotten. In June of 2005 as that organization was cleaning out that building it was found, reported to us, and we retrieved it. Michael Dillon took a digital photo of it and Bob Burdick, using Photoshop, placed it approximately where it will be rehung on the southwest corner of the building to the east of the pavilion as shown in the photo. It will be epoxyed together and encased in a supporting frame that will be stained or painted the color of the window panes shown above the simulation. A rededication service for the tablet and a dedication service for the pavilion will be held on Sunday, October 1, 2006.



Document 18


Preservation Workshop at the Annual NYSCU Conference, Albany, NY

Roger Hiemstra, Co-Presenter with Loren Broc, October 8, 2006


Preserving the Past for the Future


Background Information


            About a year ago, I assumed a role as archivist at May Memorial. The church had been without an archivist for about eight years. After acquainting myself with the many historical documents, media, and mementoes stored in our church, I submitted a proposal for a NYSCU grant to aid our preservation efforts. A receipt of monies from this successful proposal in March, 2006, enabled us to move forward in accomplishing several objectives, including preservation, creating web page material related to church history, and gathering additional historical material.

            The subsequent formation of a history committee enabled regular progress in accomplishing these objectives. In addition, a decision to maintain complete organizational transparency on History Committee and Archivist activities resulted in the creation of an ongoing web resource that describes and displays all grant and history-related accomplishments. You are invited to visit this site for more information: /archives2005-2006.html Dialogue beyond this session presentation is welcome, too


Archives and Preservation of Historical Material


            Loren Broc has described well the need to gather historical material as a resource for current and future generations to better understand your church accomplishments. My role is to describe some of what we have done at May Memorial in terms of preservation and then to do a practical demonstration of several steps you can do to preserve your own historical material.


History Committee Formation


            Soon after receiving the NYSCU funding, a History Committee was formed. This has been a working committee with members accepting responsibility for such functions as the following:

  • Inventorying the historical material that we have
  • Carrying out needed preservation activities
  • Retrieving, cleaning, and digitizing various types of media (slides, filmstrips, VHS video tapes, etc.)
  • Interviewing long-time church members with a digital recorder
  • Sharing historical material with parishioners
  • Creating web page material
  • Conceptualizing an organizational database format
  • Preparing material for deposit in Syracuse University’s archive section.

Related information for these functions can be found at /archives2005-2006.html .


Web Page Design


            Two project objectives dealt with creating Web sites to display important church history. These sites are available and will be updated periodically as new information becomes available. One of these sites deals with our second minister, Rev. Samuel Joseph May (minister from 1845 until 1868), and after whom our church is now named. Rev. May was an important religious figure in the greater Syracuse area, New York state, and the United States. To find out more information go to the following Web site: . The second site provides new history information beyond what currently existed on the May Memorial web page prior to beginning the NYSCU project. It will be more fully integrated into the church web page shortly as our PR Committee completes a redesign effort this fall. See it at this site: /simulationpage.html .


Portraying History for Church Members and Friends


            A long-term objective is to encourage an awareness and use of historical material by church members, friends, visitors, and others (through our web page). It is anticipated that creating a greater appreciation for church history will generate additional interest in May Memorial and Unitarian Universalism. To that end several history displays were mounted in our Social Hall after church services. [During the workshop I unveiled a marker board with material on the razing on the James Street church and that church’s stained glass windows that had been part of one of the Social Hall displays and talked about it as an example of what others could do in their home church to promote the idea of history being important for parishioners and visitors to better understand.] We are developing plans to build a permanent history display case in 2007. This will house historical information that will be changed periodically. We also are planning to build a permanent display area for photos of all past ministers during the fall of 2006. Finally, we have commissioned a sculptor and expert in repairing marble and stone statuary to repair and supervise the permanent mounting of a large (30 inches by 9 foot) marble tablet honoring Samuel May that hung in our former church in downtown Syracuse. The tablet will be mounted during the fall of 2006 on the outside west wall of our church facing our Memorial Garden. A rededication service for the tablet was held on October 1, 2006. The following web site shows the tablet: .


Digital Preservation of Historical Material


            Although much of our church’s historical material is paper based, it is important to think toward the future, both in terms of paper deteriorating over time and how people are increasingly accessing information electronically. It is impossible to predict how information will be accessed in the future, but the History Committee is thinking as far out as possible in terms of preserving information for future generations at May Memorial. Thus, we have already completed digitally photographing the membership book signed by new members that has been maintained for more than 150 years. The first 100 years of that book’s information was converted to a digital format by the Syracuse Genealogical Society and is now preserved on a web page: /members1st100yrs.html . In addition, we have photographed other information, electronically scanned some information, and have begun converting older forms of archival media (slides, film strips, sound recordings, VHS videos, etc.) to CDs and DVDs.


Devoted Storage and Preservation Area

(Assisted by Harsey Leonard with this Presentation Topic)


            Prior to my involvement as archivist, our historical material was stored in several church locations and in people’s homes. The bulk of the material was stored in our lower level furnace room in unlocked file cabinets where it was subjected to excess moisture at times, dust, occasional bright lights, odors from cleaning chemicals, and insect or rodent damage. We were able to consolidate everything in a better location, the room where our various computers are housed, and that we also use for our preserving work. We now have the bulk of the material in seven locked filing cabinets, including one that is fire resistant for storing our most valuable material and one that is oversize for storing our larger documents and mementoes. We also have an ongoing arrangement with the archives unit of Syracuse University, initiated in 1995, to house our most important material (see http://home. We will be depositing additional material there in early 2007.


Ongoing Preservation Efforts


            Much of the archival material stored at our church is showing deterioration that is associated with the passage of time. Fortunately, I was able to attend a preservation training workshop last spring sponsored by the Onondaga Public Library. Utilizing that experience and reading various sources on preservation techniques, I used grant monies to purchase a variety of preservation supplies. This included such supplies as deacidification material, polypropylene, pH testing pens, acid free file folders, and acid free paper. Many organizations sell such supplies, but I used Gaylord Brothers (800-634-6307; and Conservation Resources International (800-634-6932;

I then conducted a training workshop for History Committee members. Since June, various committee members have been engaged in preservation-related activities. Following is some information used in that workshop and I will do a brief hands-on demonstration for illustration purposes.


Assessing Paper Condition


Much of the paper made from the 1850s forward has been made from wood pulp and various additives. Unfortunately, wood pulp contains lignin which is highly acidic, and it tends to migrate out into the rest of the product over time creating acidic paper. The result is a product that begins to lose its flexibility and become brittle and eventually unusable.

  • Deterioration causes - acid, adhesives, heat, humidity, light, moisture, plastics, pollutants, pests, and rust (usually from paper clips or staples)
    • Removing paper clips and staples if needed
    • Seldom possible to remove adhesive materials
  • Acid testing with pH Testing Pen (yellow/brown vs. purple colors)
    • Using judgment
    • Spot testing most likely scenario


Improving/Protecting Paper


Although some controversy exists on acid and paper, I recommend neutralizing acidic paper with a deacidification product.

  • Use Bookkeeper Deacidification aerosol or pump spray (caution: Contains Magnesium Oxide so use gloves and newspaper as you apply it)
    • Lightly spray on both sides and dry over raised item or by placing on acid free paper (don’t dry it by placing it on newspaper)
    • Spot retesting with pH pen
  • Use covered paper clips for reattaching sets, but use acid free “squares” as “top” protectors
  • If absolutely necessary, use the acid-free attach tape for rips or other problems
  • For delicate, fragile, or ancient paper, also separate by acid free paper dividers
  • Place most items in an acid free folder (use your judgment on how many items per folder)


Working with Newspaper Articles


Unfortunately, newspapers are made of highly acidic newsprint, a low-cost, low-quality, and non-archival paper. It deteriorates quicker than other paper, typically yellowing and/or crumbling with age.

  • Deacidification with the spray is possible, but take care in not making it too moist (handling old newspaper material typically is difficult)
  • Storage in acid free folders and interleaved with the acid-free paper usually is a must
  • Digitization (digital photographs or optical scanning) may be the better option for key items


Working with Photos


The same rules which apply for long-term storage of paper documents generally apply to photos, except the deacidification spray should not be used.

  • Use the polypropylene sleeves for smaller photos
  • Use the polypropylene roll for larger photos, cut to size, and secure with acid-free attach tape


Identifying and Recording Information


  • Print (or type) needed information on acid free folder tabs with an acid free pen
  • Use a simple and logical numbering system by ministerial era, organization, activity, etc. for identifying the folders
  • Use a stick-on labels for polypropylene sleeves or self-made covers and hand print information and cover the printing with acid free adhesive tape
  • Be as descriptive as possible or necessary, recording the information for inventorying purposes; remember that what is recorded becomes a finding aid for others
  • Hand printing the descriptive information on each label is easiest, but remember to be legible



Document 19


Material Submitted to NYSCU as a Mid-Project Report and Albany Conference Display


New York State Convention of Universalists, Grant Progress Report


This report of a grant received from the NYSCU in winter 2006 is due to Joyce Gilbert, G&L Chair, 70 Harper Street, Rochester, NY 14607, or electronically to, BY SEPTEMBER 15, 2006. A timely response honors the terms of the original grant. If there is a visual component to the program, please send a photo or two (labeled, please) for display at the 178th Annual Meeting of the NYSCU in Albany on October 7, 2006. If there is an audio component, a tape or CD would be ideal – and played as part of the grants and loans display. Thanks.


ORGANIZATION: May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, Syracuse, NY


DATE OF REPORT: September 13, 2006


PURPOSE OF GRANT: Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using MMUUS Historical Information




[NOTE: To obtain additional insight into the progress made to date, it is important to visit some of the web sites mentioned below.]


  1. How was the money actually spent? To date we’ve spent nearly $1300; an additional $1000 is set aside for restoration and mounting on a church wall a large marble tablet honoring Samuel J. May that hung in our former location more than 40 years ago. Remaining monies are targeted toward various objectives.


  1. By your best estimate, how many people were/are being reached/served? More than 250 people have been reached or served thus far by the various project endeavors, including those attending church services, people attending a conference presentation made by Rog Hiemstra in April (see 3d below), and those who have viewed the various web sites also mentioned below. A number of people also have provided electronic or oral feedback on how much they look forward to the “Marvelous History Corner” column that appears in each church newsletters available electronically through the church web page or that is mailed to members and friends.


  1. How well have the goals of the program/project (shown below) been met, and how has this determination been made. Currently, we are on target relative to the project goals. Members of the History Committee and members of the church Program Council have provided oral feedback on the project’s progress. Grant director Rog Hiemstra carries out ongoing formative evaluation activities.
    1. Follow the preservation suggestions about our historical material made by Dr. Etherington (an archival consultant hired in 1994 – see ) – Rog Hiemstra attended a preservation training workshop, appropriate preservation resources have been purchased, he trained four members of the History Committee (formed in March) in the use of the resources, and preservation activities (paper deacidification where needed, protection of photographs, digital photographic preservation, cleaning and transfer of various media to DVDs, archive inventorying, acquisition of adequate file cabinets, including a fire proof cabinet, to house the material, etc.) have been underway since May by History Committee members.
    2. Encourage use of the historical material by scholars and people interested in MMUUS and Unitarian Universalist history – three history displays have taken place in the church and a history column now appears in every church newsletter as a means for helping people become more interested in MMUUS history (see Documents 3-9, 11, 12, and 14 of /archives2005-2006.html , an ongoing digital reporting tool showing our archive and historical preservation activities and other project activities). Considerable positive feedback has been received by Rog Hiemstra and History Committee members.
    3. Create and maintain a new MMUUS web page link pertaining to the historical material. Substantial work by Rog Hiemstra has been completed in creating new history information (see /simulationpage.html ). This simulation page will be fully integrated into the web site over the next few weeks as a new web page format is implemented by church webmaster Robert Schulz.
    4. Enhance May Memorial’s Samuel J. May heritage for both church members and Unitarian Universalists in Central New York and beyond – Rog Hiemstra presented on the Sam May heritage and our church preservation activities at the SLD Assembly on April 29. The Sam May memorial marble tablet will be rededicated on October 1. The Sam May web page created by Rog Hiemstra has been revised and updated with several new pieces included that were written about Sam May (see
    5. Interview current and former long-term church members to capture more of our past history and obtain information on our recent history – a digital recorder has been purchased, two History Committee members have been trained on its use, a “permission to interview” form developed, and a list of people to be interviewed created. One person has been interviewed to date and interviewing will continue this fall. Rog Hiemstra also may facilitate an adult education class this fall on church history that will include training other church members to carry out interviewing.
    6. Develop a policy and procedure for systematically gathering photographs, newspaper articles, church leadership material, and membership activity mementos – such a policy has been discussed at History Committee meetings and initial drafts of related policy and procedures developed.


  1. What concerns developed in the course of the program/project? The History Committee has discussed the best preservation techniques and procedures at length. In addition, it has been determined that archival materials are more widely scattered than initially understood, residing in church member homes and other rooms in the church. To date, additional archival materials from several of these locations have been recovered and housed in our permanent archival location. In addition, after a plea for historical material was mentioned in one of our newsletters early in this year, to date five past members or their heirs have sent us missing information. More searching for these materials continues.


  1. Is the program/project complete? No.
    1. If not, when will it be completed and evaluated, and by whom? It is anticipated that work on all the objectives will continue through February, 2007. It is expected that all objectives will be completed, and in some cases exceeded. The History Committee will continue to do the primary evaluation. In addition, a NYSCU Board Member, who is a member of MMUUS, and a Board of Trustees member will be asked to meet with History Committee members in January to carry out some informal summative evaluation efforts.
    2. If yes, what are the implications for the future? N.A.


  1. Would you do the program/project again, or recommend it to others? Explain. Yes, we most definitely would do the project again and recommend similar work for other churches. It has helped revive an interest in church history, has introduced newer members and visitors to our church’s heritage, and has involved several new people in preservation and related activities.


Name of respondent:  Rog Hiemstra, Address:  318 Southfield Dr., Fayetteville, NY 13066, Phone:  315-637-3527   Email:


(For Conference Display Purposes)

“Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using MMUUS Historical Information”

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, Syracuse, NY


Regular Newsletter Column


Here is an excerpt from a recent newsletter [See for a link to our newsletter and see /archives2005-2006.html to read all the back history articles]:




On September 12 we can celebrate the 209th anniversary of Sam May’s birth. Not necessarily a special occasion, but nearing his birth date prompted me to read through an inspirational little book, In Memoriam. Samuel Joseph May. This book was published in 1871 a few months after Rev. May’s death, July 1, 1871. A

committee consisting of Rev. Samuel Caltrop and several church members and friends (Mr. C. D. B. Mills, Mr. D. P. Phelps, Mr. H. N. White, Mrs. Mary E. Bagg, and Mrs. Rebecca J. Burt) prepared and published this testimony to the life of Sam May. Just reading about the July 6 funeral service brings both tears to the eyes as well as renewed awe regarding the many lives that Sam touched. This from the address of Mr. William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the very respected anti-slavery newspaper, the Liberator, sums up well the sentiment expressed in many ways that day: “I have lost a most affectionate and unswerving friend, an early and untiring co-worker in the broad field of freedom and humanity, a brother beloved incomparably beyond all blood relationship. Syracuse has lost one of its most useful and esteemed citizens; the nation one of the worthiest of its sons; the world one of the purest, most philanthropic, most divinely actuated of all its multitudinous population.”


Samuel J. May Web Page




 [Sample from web page – see – click on Sam May link]


May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
About Rev. Samuel J. May

Samuel Joseph May
Samuel Joseph May

Samuel Joseph May Bust
Bust of Samuel Joseph May in the
MMUUS Memorial Room
(photo by Bob Burdick)

Welcome to our information site on Samuel Joseph May, historically our second minister. He was a well-known abolitionist and reformer on the national scene, and our well-loved parish minister from 1845 to 1868. When the congregation built a large stone church in 1885, they named it the May Memorial Church in honor of Sam May. Later the congregation moved into the present building during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. Sam May's work for racial equality was still relevant to our members; thus, we retained his name for the new building.

Rev. May Has Shown Me the Way—by the Rev. Richard (Rick) R. Davis, First Unitarian Society of Salem (Oregon

Heretic in Syracuse—A paper by Dr. Catherine L. Covert  

“Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using MMUUS Historical Information”

May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society, Syracuse, NY


History Web Page [See – click on Our History and then New History links]

May Memorial - May Memorial Settled Parish Ministers

Rev. John Parker Boyd Storer (1838-1844)

 Following is a brief bio on each settled ministers [photos courtesy of Bob Burdick]. 

Rev. John Parker Boyd Storer (1838-1844) Rev. Storer was our first minister. He was

born in Portland, Maine, in 1794. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1812. He next

became a theology student at Bowdoin College that same year. He became a Tutor at

Bowdoin College in 1816. He was ordained a minister in the Unitarian Church at Walpole,

Massachusetts, in 1826. He moved to Syracuse in 1839 to become minister of the Unitarian

Congregational Society (our first name). He died in Syracuse in 1844.







Our Church Buildings - 1838-2006

[Click here to see photos and descriptions of the ten stained glass windows in the James St. Church]

Miscellaneous Information 

Currently MMUUS has considerable information at the Syracuse University Library’s Arents archive. In addition, here is an historical sketch of the May Memorial church from 1838-1938, entitled A Backward Glance O’er Traveled Roads. Check here to find a list of the MMUUS annual award winners. Finally, here is a list of the tremendous men and women who have served as church president as representatives of all the wonderful people who provide leadership in some way to May Memorial.


Document 20


Sixth Report of Archivist Activities


Archivist Activities – Fall, 2006


Following is a summary of the archival activities completed during the fall of 2006:


  1. I continue writing a "Marvelous History Corner" column for the church newsletter (copies of all newsletter pieces plus other items mentioned in this update can be seen on the organizational transparency web site: /archives2005-2006.html ).
  2. I was involved in a workshop presentation (with Loren Broc) at the annual NYSCU meeting in Albany on October 8. Harsey Leonard provided assistance by describing some of the work he is doing in preserving media. See Document 18.
  3. I completed and submitted a NYSCU grant progress report on September 13. See Document 19.
  4. Bob Burdick and I completed a proposal to hang photos of past ministers on the north wall outside the Social Hall. A task force will be considering the proposal in December. See Document 21. A description of the past religious and music leaders as mentioned in the proposal can be seen at /leaders.html .
  5. I completed a proposal to honor past church leaders with a permanent display (see Document 22). A description of these leaders can be seen at /awardees.html . I also completed a proposal to create a permanent history display case (see Document 23). Both are being critiqued by  History Committee members and support for these proposal will be included in the 2007 NYSCU grant proposal.
  6. I completed a first draft of the 2007 NYSCU grant proposal that is being reviewed by History Committee members prior to its submission at the end of December.
  7. I completed more work on preservation and preparing the John Fuller box of material to be submitted to the SU library.
  8. I have been communicating with Prof. Ron DeRutte on the completion of the metal frame for the Sam May marble tablet. As of December 6, 2006, the frame is completed and he plans to work with Dale Sherman in “glueing” the tablet back together, inserting it in the frame, affixing a glass protective cover, and mounting it on the outside wall facing the Memorial Garden. Completion of the full project is expected before the holidays.
  9. The History Committee had its fall meeting on November 6. We welcomed Verah Johnson as a new member of the committee. Document 24 shows the agenda and meeting minutes.
  10. Mary Louise Edwards and I each completed an interview of long term members (Hildegarde VanderSluis and Hank Manwell). I also converted an interview I completed with Verah Johnson last spring to a digital format.
  11. I have completed considerable more work on the Sam May web page and the history material for our newly revised church web page. See the following web sites for more information: , , , and /simulationpage.html (this latter material will be merged into the church web page in the future.
  12. Finally, I am working on a letter that will go to UU seminaries and other higher education religious education programs informing them about the archival material we have available and recommending that they present the possibilities for related historical research to students who may be in search of research projects. That letter will go out before the end of the year.

Rog Hiemstra, Archivist


December 7, 2006


Document 21


Proposal to Display Past Minister Photos At MMUUS


Bob Burdick, Rog Hiemstra, November 1, 2006




As a tribute to our past settled ministers, it is proposed that 5x7 inch black and white photos of all past settled ministers be hung on the south wall of the hallway between the Social Hall and the Memorial Room. The location would be between the first door to the social hall walking east down the hallway and the second door. Each photo would be housed within a six foot by three foot wooden frame with a glass cover. Attachments A and B (drawn by Bob Coye) visually depict the size and location. A smaller wood and glass picture frame mounted to the right (west) side of the larger frame will contain the names and dates of service of those associate ministers, interim ministers, directors of music, and directors of religious education who can be identified.

            Because this is envisioned as a permanent installation, the display case would be hung at approximately an adult’s eye level and fashioned securely to the wall according to Buildings and Grounds guidelines to prevent removal or accidental dislodging. A small name plate providing the name and dates of service would be mounted below each picture. In addition, subtle lighting would be added above the display case and picture frame to provide enhanced viewing.

            Up to $500 of the project costs will be covered by this year’s New York State Convention of Universalists’ grant, if completed by January 31, 2007, or written into a grant proposed for next year if it is completed later than January 31. Coordination in completing this project would be undertaken by Bob Burdick and Rog Hiemstra, but under Building and Grounds Committee guidance.


Specific Details


Information To Be Included


            Photos of May Memorial’s twelve settled ministers to date will be included in the display: Rev. John Parker Boyd Storer (1838-1844), Rev. Samuel Joseph May (1845-1868), Rev. Dr. Samuel Robert Calthrop (1868-1911), Rev. Dr. John Henry Applebee (1911-1929), Rev. Dr. Wendelin Waldemar Weiland Argow (1930-1941), Rev. Robert Eldon Romig (1941-1946), Rev. Glenn Owen Canfield (1946-1952), Rev. Dr. Robert Lee Zoerheide (1952-1961), Rev. John Channing Fuller (1961-1973), Rev. Dr. Nicholas C. Cardell, Jr. (1974-1995), Rev. Dr. Elizabeth May Strong (1988-2001), and Rev. Scott E. Tayler (1997-2004). The photos (already available) would be mounted on attractive matting within the lighted frame. Name plates containing the information shown above will be displayed below each photo in a font and size determined appropriate for proper viewing. The photos would be positioned in such a manner that additional pictures can easily be added during future years.

            It is recommended that the photo of Liz Strong be included in the array, too, because she was installed as a full minister of Religious Education. However, photos of the various associate ministers, interim ministers, directors of music, and directors of religious education would not be included as we do not have photos of all such individuals, nor is there certainty that every such individual has been identified. Instead, a wooded picture frame, approximately two foot by one foot, with a glass cover would be secured to the right (west) of the larger frame. Inside that frame would be listed the names and dates of service of all known associate ministers, interim ministers, directors of music, and directors of religious education. The History Committee would be charged with identifying the names and dates of service of as many people as possible to be included within this smaller frame.


The Wooden Frame and Lighting


            Bids will be sought from at least two carpenters and/or cabinet makers for construction of the wooden frame with a glass cover that would house the ministerial photos. An attractive frame is envisioned, one that would be determined by the Building and Grounds Committee to blend well with the décor and paneling on that wall selected for hanging the frame. It is anticipated that such a frame, including materials and mounting, could be created for under $1000. Once a final go-ahead decision is made, it is further anticipated that the entire project could be completed by January 31, 2007.

            Bids also will be sought from at least two people with expertise in lighting and electrical wiring for illumination needed to highlight the displays. Such lighting would be coordinated to be turned on when the hall switch for the overhead lights is activated. It is expected that the electrical wiring would be hidden through the ceiling and walls and that it would be operated through lines and circuit breakers separate from those controlling Social Hall lighting and wall fixtures. The Building and Grounds Committee would determine the final decisions related to type of lighting, location, and wiring. It is anticipated that expenses for installing the lighting, including materials, would cost less than $500. Ongoing expenses for electricity and bulb replacement would be subsumed under normal MMUUS operating monies.


Required Decisions


            Various decisions are yet to be made and input from an ad hoc committee will be valuable in finalizing a proposal that could then receive BOT approval.


  • The specific nature of the frame (wood, style, color, etc.)
  • The specific nature of the lighting (type, location, intensity, etc.)
  • Financial requirements


In addition, a decision regarding how to receive congregational input should be made.


Document 22


Proposal to Display Past Award Winners’ Names At MMUUS


Rog Hiemstra on Behalf of the History Committee, -- DRAFT --, November 1, 2006


As a tribute to our past award winners announced during the 2006 Annual Meeting, it is proposed that plaques with the names of all such past award winners be created and hung on the outside north wall of the social hall roughly above the water fountain area. Three plaques would be created, one for the Annual Award, one for the Unsung Hero Award, and one for the Sam May Award. A plaque honoring the annual Mary Lib Whitney Award winners is already displayed outside Jennifer’s office door.

            Because this is envisioned as a permanent display, they would be hung at approximately an adult’s eye level and fashioned securely to the wall to prevent removal. Gold name plates featuring each year’s winners are envisioned, including space to add future winners. A larger name plate describing the award would be displayed at the bottom of each plaque.

            All costs for this project would be incurred by this year’s New York State Convention of Universalists’ grant or written into a grant proposed for next year if there are insufficient funds in the current grant. The work involved in completing this project would be undertaken by History Committee members, but under the guidance of the Building and Grounds Committee.

            Therefore, approval is respectfully requested by the BOT.


Document 23


Proposal to Display Church History Information and Mementos At MMUUS


Rog Hiemstra on Behalf of the History Committee, -- DRAFT --, November 1, 2006


As a means for showcasing MMUUS’ wonderful and interesting history, it is proposed that a display case be created and hung at an adult’s eye level on the north side of the hallway running east outside of the social hall (the same side as entrances to the rest rooms). The envisioned location is immediately after where the Homeless and Hungry food basket resides and before the doorway leading to the RE area (it would be roughly under an Exit sign).

            Because this is envisioned as a permanent display case, it would be made out of wood and roughly the dimensions of three feet by two feet and six inches deep. A lockable glass door would enclose the case. To enhance vision of the contents, subtle lighting would be added above the case.

            Access to the case would be by members of the History Committee. Displays would be changed periodically (at least four times a year) to increase curiosity and anticipation. We believe church members and friends will find the displays interesting, but it also will be a way of enticing visitors to learn more about the church and its history.

            All costs for this project would be incurred by this year’s New York State Convention of Universalists’ grant or written into a grant proposed for next year if there are insufficient funds in the current grant. The work involved in completing this project would be undertaken by History Committee members, but under the guidance of the Building and Grounds Committee.

            Therefore, approval is respectfully requested by the BOT.


Document 24


History Committee Minutes, May 17, 2006


Present: Roger Hiemstra, Chair

       George Adams

       Mary Louise Edwards

       Verah Johnson

       Harsey Leonard

Agenda Items:

  1. Welcoming Verah Johnson

We were pleased to welcome Verah Johnson as the newest member of the History Committee. Verah, who informed the committee that she was the first female president of MMUUS, will participate as she is able.

  1. Report on the Sam May tablet restoration and Ron DeRutte's involvement

Roger reported that Ron DeRutte, from Syracuse University, has agreed to repair the Sam May tablet, put it in a metal frame, and cover it with Plexiglas for protection. (Roger provided additional details.) The tablet will be mounted on the foundation (outside wall) facing the pavilion and Memorial Garden. The cost of $1000.00 will be covered by the grant that Roger received from the New York State Convention of Universalists (NYSCU). [Note: the actual cost was $1225, including $225 for the purchase and cutting of the Polycarbonate (Plexiglas) covering.]

  1. Report on Roger and Harsey's presentation at the Albany conference

On October 6 and 7, Roger and Harsey gave a presentation at the Albany conference of the NYSCU to report on the work that Roger and the History Committee have been doing at MMUUS with the money from the NYSCU grant that Roger applied for and received.

  1. Report on progress related to inventorying, preparing material for Syracuse University, interviewing long-time members, and converting audio visual materials to a digital format

Harsey has a box of 60-80 slides to process and print. Because they seem to involve religious education activities, it was suggested that Lisa Obrist may be able to help in identifying some of the individuals pictured. (Lisa assisted in the RE program for a number of years.) [Note: Lisa (and Al and Helen) were able to identify some of the people and being able to participate meant a great deal to Lisa.]

George is inventorying the RE drawers.

Mary Louise has recorded two long-time members (Kent Lindstrom and Hildegarde Vandersluis), and Roger recently recorded Hank Manwell, a life-long member of May Memorial who now spends half of the year in Florida. (Harsey noted that he can scan the signed permission slips for the individuals we are recording and put them at the beginning of the CD of that interview.)

In addition to writing history articles for the MMUUS newsletter on a regular basis, Roger is trying to making sure that the Committee meets the objectives of the grant. He is working with the Bob Schultz and the Public Relations Committee to ensure that our members and friends are informed about the history of MMUUS.

  1. Report on progress in converting the history and Sam May material to the new Web page

With assistance from a few volunteers, Roger is making excellent progress in converting the history of MMUUS and material about Sam May to a digital format and making it available on the new web page. For example, Lynn Coyle has retyped a booklet about Sam May’s memorial service titled In Memoriam: Samuel J. May. Irene Blakeslee typed up Catherine Covert’s thesis on Sam May, and Roger has scanned all of May No One be a Stranger so that it is now available on the website, and he has also added links to make it more interactive.

  1. Proposal to display the photos of past ministers and others

Roger and Bob Burdick are proposing to build a permanent display case to hold photos of all the past ministers of MMUUS and other significant figures in the church’s history and to mount it in the hallway on the front side of the building, outside of the social hall. Funds for this project were included in the current NYSCU grant. [Note: An informal meeting of a task force deliberated on this idea December 17 – an informal congregational meeting to discuss this idea and obtain further comments will be held on January 7.]                        

  1. Proposal for a permanent history display case

Another permanent (wood with a lockable glass door) display case is being proposed to display information about the history of the church. It would tentatively be located before the entrance to the RE area, on that side of the hallway. Displays would be changed regularly. It is hoped that funds for this project would come from a new grant.

  1. Proposal to display the names of past MMUUS award winners

Another proposal involves creating and mounting plaques that would list the names of past MMUUS presidents, award winners and other leaders. One suggestion is to mount these plaques to the right of the case containing the pictures of past ministers. (John Marsh is seeking input from the small groups at MMUUS regarding the proposed placements of these plaques.)

  1. Current NYSCU grant progress report, finances, and web page information

Roger updated the History Committee on the current NYSCU grant, the related finances, and the development of the web page. In addition to the activities listed under # 5 above, all the pages of the existing membership book have been photographed and put on CDs for safety and archiving. (There was some concern about the fact that the book itself is kept on a shelf in the church office, rather than in a secure location.)  The names of people who signed the book in the 100 years between 1838 and 1937 were previously typed up by the Syracuse Genealogical Society and are now on a floppy disk. Some older records were destroyed in a fire.

  1. Development of a NYSCU proposal for 2007

Roger is preparing another proposal to submit to NYSCU. Among other things, he would like to propose that members of the History Committee present two or three workshops at different locations in the district as a way of sharing what we have learned with others and encouraging them to document and preserve the history of their own congregations. He will send a draft of the proposal to the History Committee for comments. Although it is not due until January 1, 2007, he would like our input right away, as he will have limited time to work on it after Dec. 15. He will also send it to Alexa Carter and Joyce Gilbert for their feedback. [Note: A copy of this proposal will appear in the 2007 report of Current Archives/Historical Preservation Activities.]

  1. Other items as appropriate

In Roger’s absence, Harsey agreed to represent the History Committee at the Nov. 12 meeting of the Program Council; he will already be there in his role as chair of  the Social Justice Committee.

Recorded and typed by M. L. Edwards


Document 25


Material Sent to Seminaries


            One objective of the NYSCU grant was to encourage people to examine the MMUUS archives more closely. The hope was that such research would result in a better understanding of the material and written products that could be shared with others. In that regard, letters and a descriptive brochure were sent to 45 colleges and universities in Canada and the United States with seminary training that could be used by people interested in Unitarian Universalism. Copies are included below.


On Church Letterhead


December 29, 2006


Director of Graduate Studies

Name of School

Street Address

City and State or Province


Subj: Research Possibilities for Your Students




            The purpose of this letter is to ask that you let any students looking for research projects know about the many archival materials pertaining to May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society (Syracuse, NY) that are available. The richness of this material and its increasing accessibility electronically suggests the possibility of numerous future research projects for anyone interested in religious history, how one church has developed over the years, the impact of a church on a community, and the heritage left by our relatively few but outstanding past ministers. Enclosed is a copy of an informational sheet that describes our collections with corresponding web links. Perhaps this sheet could be duplicated and distributed to professors and students, included on appropriate web pages, and even posted on bulletin boards.

As a recently retired college professor, I remember how students often struggle to find a research question and corresponding resource material for coursework, thesis, and dissertation needs. In my current volunteer role as church archivist, I am increasingly amazed to realize the research potential in our church history and how much material has been collected by previous archivists during the past 150 years. I’m convinced there is much that could be learned by studying our collections and encourage interested students to examine the possibilities.

I will be pleased to answer any questions. Thank you for your support.


Sincerely yours,



Roger Hiemstra, May Memorial Archivist



Church web site:


              May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society Collection     

Special Collections Research Center (SCRC)                  May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society
Syracuse University
Library                                           3800 E. Genesee St.
Syracuse, NY 13244    (315.443.2697)                            Syracuse, NY 13214   (315.446.8920)

Note to Researchers: SCRC requires advance notice of 3-5 business days prior to a researcher’s arrival so archival material can be made available in the research center, 6th Floor, Bird Library. Contact SCRC officials by email, or by calling (315) 443-2697. Material stored at the church can be made available by advance notification of 3-5 business days prior to arrival, depending on  availability of a supervising History Committee member. Contact  church archivist, Roger Hiemstra, by email, or by calling (315) 637-3527. Material currently accessible electronically is described below.

Description: May Memorial Unitarian Church began in 1838 in Syracuse, NY. Its founders had left the Congregational Church of New England in Boston, preferring to study the gospels for themselves and worship according to individual conscience. The church was originally named "Church of the Messiah." Congregational members were active in the community; their second minister, Samuel Joseph May, was a well-known abolitionist and reformer best remembered in Syracuse for his part in the escape of Jerry, a runaway slave, memorialized in the "Jerry Rescue" sculpture in downtown Syracuse. In 1885 the church moved to James Street and named their new stone building "May Memorial Church" in his honor. In 1964-65 a new church was constructed at the Genesee St. site and the church moved there. Later the group changed their name to May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society. The available material has much potential for research on church history, the struggles of Unitarians as the country expanded, and ministerial impact on a community.


The May Memorial Unitarian Church Records at Syracuse University, comprising the papers and records of seven ministers, and related scrapbooks, beginning with Samuel Joseph May, covers over 100 years. The collection is only roughly organized, divided according to the tenure of each minister:

John Storer, Minister 1839-1844                         Waldemar W. Argow, Minister 1930-1941

Samuel Joseph May, Minister 1845-1868 Robert E. Romig, Minister 1941-1946

Samuel R. Calthrop, Minister 1868-1911 Glenn O. Canfield, Minister 1946-1952

John H. Applebee, Minister 1911-1929

Contents include letters, photographs, deeds, wills, pew rental contracts, legal papers, marriage records, clippings, photographs, articles, books, Orders of Service, Sunday School reports, and many other items. The collection at the church continues with similar material, plus various forms of media, beyond 1952.

Size of collection: 5 boxes from 1995 (see for details) and 5 boxes from 1998 (see for details). Several file cabinets and boxes also are available through the church’s archive room, including information on religious education and womens’ group activities (see /status1.html for a brief description).  Inclusive Dates: 1830-2005; Bulk Dates: 1839-1952. Authors: MFW revised 2/86 and RH 11/06

Electronic access: Material is being made available electronically as rapidly as possible and is being updated frequently. The following web sites display some of this information:

  5. /simulationpage.html