Preserving, Perpetuating, and Using MMUUS Historical Information


Project Description


May Memorial Unitarian Universalist Society (MMUUS) members have preserved much of the church’s history since its inception nearly 170 years ago. In addition, Rev. May’s prestige as a national religious figure has meant that considerable information about him has been preserved, too (see an MMUUS web site link devoted to him at [Attachment A summarizes the WWW links shown in the proposal.] Some of this historical material is stored in the MMUUS church building, some is at the Syracuse University Arents Library (see for a depiction of the material there), and some is located in various other places or formats (see Also stored in the MMUUS basement is a large marble tablet honoring Reverend May that hung on a wall in the former James St. church in Syracuse.

            Unfortunately, much of the material at MMUUS is deteriorating rapidly and the marble tablet is broken (see information on the tablet in Attachment B). In 1994 Dr. Suzanne Etherington, Certified Archivist, carried out a survey and made several preservation recommendations (these suggestions are shown at She noted the information’s precarious nature due to inadequate storage facilities (old, unsecured filing cabinets and  cardboard boxes), material in various church locations, no acid free containers, and ongoing damage due to insects, rodents, light, and moisture (see for a narrative and pictorial portrayal of the material and basement location). Most recommendations for the material still at MMUUS have not been addressed because of inadequate financial and human resources.

            There also have been few efforts to gather and preserve historical information during most of the past decade. Fortunately, several people in their 70s and older living in Central New York and elsewhere have a long history of involvement with MMUUS. Their living testimony will be crucial in obtaining past knowledge. If an important aspect of Central New York’s Unitarian Universalism history is to serve as a study resource for current and future generations both locally and nationally, better procedures must be quickly put into place for preserving, perpetuating, and using MMUUS historical information.


Project Objectives


            Therefore, this project has the following objectives:

  1. Follow the preservation suggestions about our historical material made by Dr. Etherington.
  2. Encourage use of the historical material by scholars and people interested in MMUUS and Unitarian Universalist history.
  3. Create and maintain a new MMUUS web page link pertaining to the historical material.
  4. Enhance May Memorial’s Samuel J. May heritage for both church members and Unitarian Universalists in Central New York and beyond.
  5. Interview current and past long-term church members to capture more of our past history and obtain information on our recent history.
  6. Develop a policy and procedure for systematically gathering photographs, newspaper articles, church leadership material, and membership activity mementos.


Project Activities Related to the Six Objectives


Preservation Suggestions

  1. Acquire better storage facilities and resources (acid free containers, steel storage file cabinets, wide drawer file cabinets for scrap books and oversize material, etc.).
  2. Seek volunteers to bring all historical material to the basement storage area, analyze the condition of these material, and take appropriate steps quickly for their improved preservation.
  3. Begin taking long term preservation activities as appropriate, such as optical scanning, digital photography, etc.

Encourage Use of Historical Material

  1. 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.).
  2. 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.

Create a New Web Page Link

  1. 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.
  2. Include various research suggestions pertaining to the historical material.

Enhance the Samuel J. May Heritage

  1. Restore the marble tablet, hang it in the MMUUS building, and have a rededication service for church members and other interested people.
  2. Electronically scan research papers, sermons, and other material related to Reverend May for incorporation into the existing Web link.
  3. Encourage members and friends of MMUUS to write and/or speak about the Samuel J. May heritage as a means of promoting the church and the rich heritage of Unitarian Universalism.

Interview Current and Past Church Members

  1. Contact current and past members to obtain permission for oral interviewing sessions.
  2. Identify and train some church members to interview them about their knowledge of church history.
  3. Digitize the information obtained, create printed documents for storage, add summaries to the new web page link, and develop appropriate “stories” for use by church members and leaders.
  4. Seek photographs, newspaper articles, reports, church activity mementos, and other memorabilia of historical relevance pertaining to the past decade.

Develop an Information Gathering System

  1. Appoint an advisory group of people from within the MMUUS membership knowledgeable about history, documentation, and/or systemization and seek help in creating such a system.
  2. Develop a record management policy and implement procedures for systematically gathering information related to the “ongoing” history of MMUUS.

The project director (Roger Hiemstra) will carry out appropriate management of available funds, have overall responsibility for volunteer and interviewer training and recruitment, coordinate the various project activities, provide periodic reports to the church board and minister, and complete all progress and final reporting as required by the NYSCU. He will donate 25 to 40 hours per month in these oversight activities. See for Hiemstra’s resume showing relevant work experience. The MMUUS Office Administrator and Webmaster also will donate some time to the project.


Project Value


            Although this project seeks funding to assist in an enhancement of historical information and related data gathering for only one institution, it is anticipated that the efforts will promote an overall growth of Unitarian Universalism. By creating and implementing a system that increases knowledge about the history of MMUUS, current and future church members will have a better understanding of the heritage they have received as well as their own stake in leaving a heritage for others.

            Furthermore, by disseminating this history via the WWW and other means to people throughout New York and beyond, public awareness of Unitarian Universalism will be increased. NYSCU is encouraged to consider this effort as a demonstration project for determining means and disseminating resulting information whereby other UU societies can promote their own historical preservation, interest in heritage, and increased awareness of Unitarian Universalism.


Project Budget:  Estimate cost of each applicable category. (See Attachment C for a detailed budget)

    Category (e.g., honoraria, publicity, travel, copying, etc. [please specify])

    __Equipment_________________________             ___1322____

    __Miscellaneous_____________________                ____250____

    __Preservation______________________                 ____511____

    __Restoration_______________________                ___1000____

    __Stamps____________________________             ____117____

    Total Request (should equal amount on p. 4)              __$3200____


Please provide a summary budget for the present year for your  congregation or UUA affiliated organization.


Income (2005-2006 Budget)

    Pledge Income                                                         ___194,800______

    Endowment Income                                                 _____2,000______

    Other Income (e.g. Bldg. Rental)                             ____71,900______

    Fundraising                                                              _____8,000______

                                 TOTAL                                       ___276,700______


Expenses (2005-2006 Budget)

    Salaries                                                                    ___184,600______

    Administrative Expenses                                          _____8,500______

    Maintenance (& utilities)                                          ____62,000______

    Religious Education                                                 _____3,800______

    UUA and District Dues                                            ____19,000______

    Other                                                                        ____21,000______

                                  TOTAL                                      ___298,900______


Number of members _246__               Number of pledge units _156__

Change in pledge income this year          ___+18,000__________

Change in membership this year              __________-11_______ (voting members = 246)

Number of “Chalice Lighters”               ____40 pledge units (50 people total)

Fair share congregation (past year)      UUA:  Yes__X__ No____      District:  Yes__X__ No____


Identify organizational participation in training programs relative to leadership, canvass, growth, religious education, or long-range planning.

EAGLES participation in 2005

Ongoing attendance at St. Lawrence District conferences

Representation at the General Assembly in 2005

Worked with Jerry King on Stewardship in 2005

Ongoing participation in Chalice Lighters

Ongoing donations to the UUSC

Take part in the regional food bank

Ongoing meetings with Tom Chulak in 2004 and 2005 to discuss future of the District

Ongoing participation in and support of Unirondak

Ongoing utilization of District resource for our ministerial search activities






1. - This is link in the MMUUS web page for the Samuel J. May material. Among the information in that link is a number of other links to material written by or about Rev. May.

2. – this is a description of the various items that are already contained within the Syracuse University Library’s Arents Archives.

3. – this is a description of the various materials written about Rev. May, only a portion of which is shown in no. 1 above.

4. – this is a report developed by Certified Archivist, Dr. Suzanne Etherington, in which she makes various recommendations related to the archival material stored at MMUUS.

5. – this is a description of the historical material remaining at MMUUS and two photos of the storage containers in the basement location.

6. – this is online version of Dr. Hiemstra’s resume, and it depicts his past work with archives and his management experiences relating to the oversight requirements for directing the proposed project.



A large marble tablet (approximately 7 feet by 2.5 feet by 1.5 inches) honoring Sam May was installed in our old James Street church in 1885. It was moved to the Onondaga Historical Association’s Research Center in 1955 as the James Street church was being razed. In the summer of 2005 it was moved from the Research Center to MMUUS and currently is stored in our basement. It is broken into two large pieces and one small piece. To see the tablet in color go to  





(Prices, rounded to nearest dollar, from Gaylord Bros., Home Depot, Joanne Fabrics, and Staples)

Key: (E) = Equipment; (H) = Honoraria; (M) = Misc.; (P) = Preservation; (R) = Restoration; (S) = Stamps

Preservation Suggestions

2          5-drawer baked enamel finish, lockable filing cabinets @ 300.00       ea.                    (E)      600.00

1          2-drawer baked enamel finish, lockable filing cabinet (legal size)                               (E)      180.00

1          Desk for researchers who use the historical material                                                    (E)      150.00

1          Adjustable chair on rollers                                                                                           (E)       90.00

1          4-bulb (48”) florescent light fixture                                                                             (E)       60.00

8          Florescent bulbs (includes 4 replacement bulbs) @ 6.00 ea.                                        (E)       24.00

1          Ott true color desk lamp                                                                                              (E)       50.00

200      Letter size acid free file folders                                                                                    (P)        63.00

100      Legal size acid free file folders                                                                                    (P)        30.00

25        Letter size acid free storage envelopes                                                                         (P)        17.00

25        Legal size acid free storage envelopes                                                                         (P)        18.00

2          Photo boxes acid free (small size) @ 7.00 ea..                                                             (P)        14.00

1          Photo box acid free (large size)                                                                                   (P)        12.00

6          Curator boxes acid free, 3 inch thick, for magazines/pamphlets @ 4.50 ea.                (P)        27.00

2          Metal reinforced print boxes acid free (small) @10.00 ea.                                           (P)        20.00

1          Metal reinforced print box acid free (large)                                                                 (P)        15.00

84 ft.    Acid free lace for binding photo albums and scrapbooks                                            (P)          6.00

3          Memory scrapbooks with expandable spines (10 pages with

            polypropylene sheet protectors) @ 27.00 ea.                                                               (P)        81.00

2          Archival glue pens @ 2.00 ea.                                                                                     (P)          4.00

1          Package of 12 white cotton gloves (medium)                                                              (P)        17.00

1          Package of 12 white cotton gloves (large)                                                                   (P)        17.00

1          Package of 10 UV light filter wraps for florescent bulbs                                              (P)        48.00

1          Disaster recovery kit (flashlight, paper towels, sponges, polyester sheeting, etc.)        (P)        75.00

1          Single sided acid free scotch tape (2500 ft)                                                                 (P)        30.00

1          Double sided acid free scotch tape (1300 ft.)                                                               (P)        17.00

                                                                                                                        Subtotal                   1665.00

Encourage Use of Historical Material

300      Mailings to churches, universities, seminaries, etc. @ .39                                           (S)      117.00

300      Envelopes, necessary paper, etc.                                                                                 (M)      50.00

300      Brochures advertising the MMUUS historical material                                                (M)     100.00

                                                                                                                        Subtotal                     267.00

Enhance Samuel J. May Heritage

Repair and hang marble table in MMUUS building (estimate)                                                 (R)     1000.00

                                                                                                                        Subtotal                     1000.00

Interview Current and Past Church Members

1          Olympus DM-10 digital recorders @ 131.00 with batteries @ 17.00

            and with power adapter @ 20.00                                                                                 (E)       168.00

                                                                                                                        Subtotal                       168.00


Miscellaneous expenses                                                                                                           (M)     100.00

                                                                                                                        Subtotal                      100.00

                                                                                                                        Grand total             $3200.00